New mural to cover unsightly graffiti

An artist's impression of a section of the mural set to be installed in Clerk Street, below. Picture: Gordon Fraser
An artist's impression of a section of the mural set to be installed in Clerk Street, below. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A GRAFFITI hotspot is set for a major facelift after plans were unveiled to paint a sprawling mural highlighting the quirky side of south Edinburgh.

Clerk Street businesses have been battling serial graffiti artists for the last decade, with recurring tags daubed on walls bringing down the character of the area.

But now community leaders and national transport charity Sustans have stepped in to blanket over the inky scrawls with a colourful artwork.

Sustrans will foot the bill for the makeover which has been designed by Leith-based graphic artist Kate George, who has previously created city murals at the Braidwood Centre and Dumbiedykes Estate.

“The idea is to reflect the colourful side of south Edinburgh and celebrate what makes the area unique,” she said.

“And so the design incorporates a lot of fabrics because it’s a well-known area for fabric stores, the fresh produce you can find in shops – things that make south Edinburgh great. But we’re also open to new suggestions. For example, someone asked about incorporating ducks into the design, as there’s apparently a well-known duck that always nests in a flower box nearby.
Now, we’ve reworked the mural to include ducklings.”

The mural will line the walls of a new section of the national cycle network that begins at the Union Canal.

Lisa Sibbald, chair of the Southside Association, said the artwork should provide a lift to the area and deter further vandalism. She added: “This space is particularly prone to graffiti, and there’s nothing artistic about it.

“Business owners are constantly taking it upon themselves to cover new graffiti when it appears, but within days it’s back.

“That’s one reason that we decided to commission a mural – because in most cases, when you cover up graffiti with an actual piece of art, it tends to be left alone.”

Ali Quaba, the owner of tailoring business Stitch Master, said: “We’ve got a neighbourhood scheme that’s always out there repainting, and they work very hard.

“I know everyone on the street would like to see the graffiti problem to come to an end.”

Tom Bishop, Sustrans’ community links coordinator, said: “The installation of these new cycling facilities will give people the opportunity to travel actively on a regular basis. This will bring them a large number of benefits – health, financial and environmental.” If planners give it the green light, work on the mural should start by April.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com