This is what has inspired a local artist to transform this Victorian tunnel in Colinton
A local artist has taken it upon himself to transform the once derelict and dreary underground Victorian tunnel at Colinton.
The mural will become the biggest outdoor artwork of its kind in Scotland – even though it is technically underground.
Muralist Chris Rutterford, a popular figure on the city art scene, designed and painted the work with support from a team of professional and volunteer artists. Mr Rutterford spent most of his formative years in the Colinton area where his mother still resides.
Visitors are already being amazed by the stunning images that have begun to appear on the walls and ceiling of the 140 metre Victorian tunnel.
The concept of the design is to link Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage to local history. As a project it is already becoming an engaging, exciting and amusing public artwork.
Colinton tunnel project chairman Mike Scott said: “Chris Rutterford’s design, using RLS’s short poem, gives a wonderful visual description of how a rail trip from the city to the country might have felt to a child. It connects amazingly well to our community’s history. Chris having grown up here gives him a personal connection.”
RLS’s poem is being written and graphically illustrated on one wall of the tunnel and the blocks of text will link across the roof to more stunning visuals on the opposite side. This approach connects each line of the poem to the rich heritage of individuals and organisations who have had links with Colinton.
A week-long artist’s residency at Colinton Primary School saw the entire school population create a 56 square metre part of the mural on marine-ply boards, which were fixed to the tunnel last week. All in all, around 450 young people will be directly involved in the project.
The project is predicted to take around a year to complete. However the rate at which work is completed is dependent upon the progress of obtaining funding efforts. So far the project has raised 25 per cent of its £100k fundraising target.
Mr Rutterford said: “The goal of the project is to skin the tunnel in a fresh bold and optimistic new story. Turning it from a dilapidated eyesore into a destination venue on the water of Leith.
“By the end of the project we’ll produce a work of art that has a coherent vision and high level of artistic standard but has all the vibrancy and energy of a community project. The local area is already engaged, people keep coming back to see it grow, and it’s only getting better. It’s a huge honour.”
It is hoped that the increased footfall will help to revitalise the struggling village centre.
Cllr Scott Arthur, said: “I pass the tunnel most days on my bike to work, and it has been great to see it taking shape over the summer.
“Once complete, I am certain it will bring more people along the Water of Leith to Colinton to learn about its rich history and use local businesses. A wealth of research over the past few years shows that good quality public art actually helps to prevent graffiti.”