When my children started school at Newburgh Mathers Primary, I saw a lack of visual art around the place and proposed the idea of a project to create an outdoor mural, based on local history, and including work by each child at the school. I was supported in this by the school and Aberdeenshire Council who facilitated my going into each of the 8 classes – from Nursery to P7 – and working with all the children to produce artwork about the history of their village. The main focus was on the large variety of shops which used to exist on the Main Street of Newburgh, the River Ythan which has always been important to the village which sits right on the river estuary, and the beach. It evolved to become a village project rather than just for the school, involving academy age children and also local adult groups. We worked in a variety of media including painting, drawing and printmaking.
I then collaged all the resulting artwork into a big picture which is a simplified aerial view of the village. I knew I wanted the mural to be permanent and so I researched different media and came across a type of digitally printed tile which is weather, light and graffiti resistant while also offering good quality reproduction of images. I raised the £6000 capital needed make and install the tiles through applying for grants. The finished mural is 5.4m x 3m.
The mural was awarded the ‘Aberdeenshire is a Creative Place Art Competition’ prize at the 2013 Aberdeenshire Council ‘Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards’. I also staged an exhibition in the school to showcase the process and the original artworks created by the children. This exhibition was also shown in the Aberdeenshire Council buildings.