It’s the Easter holidays, the kids are off school, and time for blogging is short again, so I’m a little late posting this week. We’re currently in Scotland on a rather cloudy and damp break, so I thought I’d share some photos from a visit we made to Kelburn Castle.
Graffiti Art and ancient castles don’t usually go hand in hand, but at Kelburn they do! We are more used to seeing this kind of artwork in an urban environment, but Kelburn brought together four of the world’s leading graffiti artists from Brazil to work alongside Scottish talent and create a unique burst of colour, embracing the walls and turrets of the south side of Kelburn Castle. As an important historic building, this sort of thing is not normally allowed, there are strict restrictions on what alterations can be made to a historic building of this kind in order to preserve it for posterity, and this extends to the colour you are allowed to paint it. Begun in 2007, permission for the mural was originally granted on the basis that it would be temporary, and removed after just 3 years. The decision was understandably controversial. However the artwork has proved to be popular with visitors, and has helped to put this part of Scotland on the map, with lots of visitors arriving especially to see it. So now the owners of the Castle are attempting to get permission to make the mural a more permanent feature.
I have to say from my own point of view, as someone with the dual (and some might think conflicting in this case) professional enthusiasms of historic buildings and art, I can understand and appreciate the arguments from both those in favour and those against. However it is an entirely temporary piece of artwork which causes no lasting damage to the building, and my feeling is that it should be allowed to remain until the artwork begins to deteriorate. It still appears to be pristine, and so it would seem a shame to remove it so soon.
The initial impression, seeing this kind of graffiti art out of it’s normal context, is quite shocking. But it’s so light-hearted and fun, that it’s difficult not to smile when you see it. Love it or hate it, you can’t help but notice it. My boys, perhaps unsurprisingly, loved it. I liked the way that the artists used the shape and form of the building to influence the composition of their work, rather than simply painting a completely unrelated series of images onto it. The contrast of old and new is arresting too, as are the bright colours in the context of the surrounding landscape.
So what do you think? Inspired artwork or cultural vandalism?
You can see a time-lapse video of the mural’s creation here.