Tam o’ Shanter art in action

Chris Rutterford with his 20-metre Tam's Night Out panoramic painting
Chris Rutterford with his 20-metre Tam's Night Out panoramic painting
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Most artists would be thrown into panic at the thought of displaying unfinished work at an exhibition.

But Edinburgh artist Chris Rutterford is to offer the public a rare glimpse of a painter at work.

And with his mural measuring a massive 20 metres by two metres he can be forgiven for not having completed it.

Chris, from Comiston, will work live on the Tam o’ Shanter mural at the Drouthy Cronies display, to be held at the Arts Complex, St Margaret’s House, from September 10 to 24.

“I think so many artists are secretive about what they do,” he said. “It’s really nice to be open about it and let people see how these pieces are made.”

The 37-year-old artist, who has been working on the piece for the past six months, was commissioned to paint the mural by the owners of the Bristol Bar in Glasgow for a new Tam o’Shanter themed restaurant.

“I’ve got about 14 metres covered so far,” he said.

“The first section – which hasn’t been painted yet – is Tam in the pub having beers, and in the background I’m going to have Rabbie Burns chatting up a couple of women.

“The bit I have already painted has the most intense crowd scenes of the mural. There must be about 60 characters, including a life-sized horse and witches and warlocks chasing Tam to Brig o’ Doon.”

Chris completed an illustration degree at Leeds Metropolitan University with a particular interest in elaborately painted and drawn comics – a style that is evident in the mural.

The painting is made up of seven-foot boards – the largest size Chris could fit into the gallery’s lift.

“I think most artists would feel quite daunted about painting something this size,” he said. “I want it to be just as good as any other piece of work, that’s why I have given myself so much time.”

Fittingly, he aims to finish the mural in time for a Burns’ Night celebration.

Many of the artist’s models used for the witches and warlocks were regulars at the pub below the restaurant it will be displayed in. “They will be looking back at themselves as witches and warlocks,” he said.

“For me that’s my ideal clientele. I would rather my paintings were with a pub environment than in a gallery because more people can see it – and they’re more likely to have their beer goggles on and enjoy the whole experience.” The exhibition will also feature an animation of the mural’s manufacture so far.

Also to be showcased as part of the exhibition are paintings, prints and drawings by Chris’ wife Fiona and his friend Scott Baxter, who all work at the same studio.

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com