Continuing collaborations with Edinburgh’s Greater Grassmarket BID

21 November, 2016

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Chris live-painting his Penny Farthing mini mural in the Grassmarket on September 24, 2016.

Live-Painting in Edinburgh’s Historic Grassmarket

The Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District is a five-year project (starting February 2013) where all businesses within the defined area have come together to invest collectively to benefit business and local economy growth through local improvements, activities and business support in addition to those delivered by City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Government. Their objectives include creating a sense of place, attracting more footfall to the area and raising the profile and improving the perception of the area, and I am delighted to be involved in these ambitions.

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Foreign visitors to Edinburgh capturing Chris’s live-painting event in the Grassmarket.
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Chris live-painting the Penny Farthing mini mural at left, while his Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

In 2014 I created my Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural within this Greater Grassmarket BID area, live painting onsite the notorious story of the one of the areas most famous residents – a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket on the 2nd of September 1724 for murdering her illegitimate newborn baby. Miraculously she survived the hanging and as she could not be executed for a second time for the same crime, she received a full pardon and went on to live a long life, garnering the nickname ‘Half Hangit’ Maggie.’

 

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Chris’s Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

In September of this year, the Greater Grassmarket BID events team led by Callum Ross wanted some extra colour in their proposed ‘Mobility Week’. Designed to celebrate mobility in all forms and set it within the historic context of the Grassmarket, they commissioned a diverse group of performers which included musicians, actors and even penny farthing demonstrations running up and down the square.

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Chris’s Half Hangit Maggie Dickson mural acts as an appropriate backdrop for the performance stage in the Grassmarket.

I was asked to provide some pictorial colour and I produced a two metre by two metre Victorian-era painting of two men on penny farthings racing a donkey-riding man through the Grassmarket. I took inspiration from the classic beachside postcards produced by Donald McGill in the early to mid 20th century, and built a painting that was fun and light humoured, very much in keeping with the spirit of the day

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Black and white and colour illustrations are the initial planning drawings for the Penny Farthing mini mural

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As always I asked visitors at the event to participate as characters in the picture, and they really entered the spirit of the piece. In addition to the new painting, I took my Maggie Dickson mural along and it was used as an evocative backdrop for the performers on the stage beside me. If possible it’s always nice to have some visual context from one of my previous artworks and visitors seem to enjoy seeing other finished pieces.

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Above: Jason Fricke, an American visitor to the Grassmarket, gets in character – and ends up in the mural (see final piece below).

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The event was held on my birthday and was a splendid way to spend the day, which was topped off by the best pastry ever delivered by Sheila, my studio manager.

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The (almost) finished Penny Farthing mini mural, being worked on back in the studio.

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