ARTIST Chris Rutterford spent a month at the Tron Kirk in the summer of 2013, creating a massive mural of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, inviting people to have their picture taken and then painting them into the crowd scene.
Now he has returned to the historic Royal Mile church on a permanent basis and set up a “mural factory”, painting new works in full view and displaying some of his earlier creations.
First up is a 16ft x 8ft mural of Wind in the Willows which he is painting for a new restaurant called Badger and Co, due to open soon in Castle Street, where Kenneth Grahame, author of the children’s novel, was born.
“I’m making them a large-scale painting for their beer garden,” said Chris. “It’s a real kid-friendly event picture and people have been really enjoying it unfolding. I’ll be building it for the next couple of weeks. Painting live isn’t something I do to show off. It really focuses me and forces me to come up with the goods.”
The Tron Kirk has evolved since he was last there. Instead of a bar and music venue, it now houses a market with an eclectic range of boutique stalls and a pizza restaurant.
“It’s a fantastic venue and one of the most beautiful interiors in the town – somewhere I have a lot of affection for,” Chris said. “It’s also the scene of my most productive ever month’s painting – around 800 portraits and 400 man hours of graft in one month.
“The place has a fabulous atmosphere now. There are a great bunch of people running the stalls. It’s a great place to be.”
Chris is currently displaying his 70ft-long mural of Robert Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter, which tells the poem’s whole story in moody detail.
The plan is to change the mural every month to keep the place fresh. In the next few months he says he will bring back the Hogmanay mural and possibly his epic painting of the Battle of Bannockburn.
“My aim is to fill the building with crowd-pleasing artwork with similar aspirations to the original craftsmen who built this kirk – art meant to entertain, inspire awe and tell a story to a congregation,” he said.
Chris’s work over the past five years has included a 21ft Christmas mural painted live in John Lewis’ shop window, a 64ft depiction of the baying crowd at an 18th-century hanging in the Grassmarket, and a huge community mural in Mayfield.