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Sun to Set on a Happy Cultural Clash

Friday, December 19, 2014

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Question: Why is a medieval Scottish castle clad entirely in a "bold and shocking" technicolor explosion of Brazilian street art?

Answer: Why not?

Meet The Graffiti Project, the seven-year-old public art experiment that began as a childish lark, caught on spectacularly, and is now nearing its end.


The transformation started as a whim and became a tourist sensation.

Homeowner Woes

The project began in 2007, when Patrick Boyle, 10th Earl of Glasgow, got the news that every castle owner dreads: The 50-year-old concrete facing on Kelburn Castle, the clan's ancestral home outside Glasgow, would need replacing.

That is no small project. The newest part of the castle dates to the 19th century; the oldest, to the 16th century.

So rather than rush into the replacement project, the earl (and, indisputably, cool dad) agreed to a suggestion by his children: Why not paint it before we replace it?

Thus, the earl commissioned four Brazilian street artists to paint the exterior in what the BBC describes as "a psychedelic series of interwoven cartoons depicting surreal urban culture."


It took four artists and 1,500 cans of spray paint to complete the project.

The £20,000 (about $31,300 USD) commission (captured here on time-lapse video) reportedly consumed 1,500 cans of spray paint.

Making a Deal

The North Ayrshire Council and Historic Scotland, whose jurisdiction includes the castle, agreed to the plan—if it was temporary and the graffiti was removed within three years for resurfacing (or reharling, in the Scottish vernacular).

The family agreed, but the art then became a tourist sensation. (The estate opened to the public in 1977.)

In 2011, the work was named one of the world's top 10 examples of street art by author and designer Tristan Manco, whom critics compare to the world-renowed Banksy.


The BBC described the murals as "a psychedelic series of interwoven cartoons depicting surreal urban culture."

The earl's family, too, apparently fell in love with the murals and appealed to keep them.

Authorities refused. Not only was a deal a deal, they said, but at that point, the paint was found to be damaging the castle walls.

The earl was reportedly devastated, but the graffiti will be removed and cleaning completed by the summer.

The Next Chapter

Still, Clan Boyle is already planning its next artistic move.


What will great-great-great-great-great-Grandpa think? The Boyles settled in Kelburn in 1140. The original Norman Keep, built by 1200, was later enclosed in a larger castle completed in 1581.

As fate would have it, David Boyle, the earl's son and now the Viscount Kelburn, grew up to be an architect who will inherit the castle and estate.

His goal is to turn Kelburn into a "hospitality venue and holiday destination," HeraldScotland reported this summer.

To that end, the family is planning a contest for architects and designers to find "an equally unique design" that won't damage the walls, the BBC reported this month.

“It could be anything, audiovisual elements, maybe, or lighting," David Boyle told HeraldScotland.

"We just want to put it out there and see what ideas we get back.”


Tagged categories: Architects; Architectural coatings; Color; Color + Design; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Exterior painting; Exterior Wall Coatings; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Murals

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/7/2015, 11:06 AM)

Very nice.

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