Celebrating Success of Reaching First Milestone

Alloway Railway Tunnel (ART) Project has reached a major milestone, by successfully installing the first section of a mural that will become one of the longest murals in Scotland.

An event to celebrate this achievement, took place in the tunnel on Friday 26 April 2024 with an audience of elected members, trustees, volunteers, friends and family and many of the supporters that have helped in the first part of the project. Mural artist, Chris Rutterford, unveiled the latest section of the mural; Robert Burns ploughing fields with his Clydesdale horses, illustrating a scene from the famous poem, ‘To a Mouse’, where Burns disturbs the mouse’s nest!  

Visitors to the tunnel will be able to link to a short film, ‘Of Mice and Men’, made at the Scottish Ploughing Championships at Monktonhall Farm, to learn about the heritage skills involved in ploughing and the importance of passing on these skills to the next generation. A special recording of ‘To a Mouse’, is planned so that people can listen to the poem in the tunnel and enhance their enjoyment of this exciting new space. More films are planned to help tell the stories of Ayrshire’s vibrant history.

Alloway Railway Tunnel Chair, Ron Ireland said, “I am very proud of what we have achieved and believe it’s really important to celebrate the success of what has been accomplished and how far we have come. It’s been two years since I muted the idea of transforming this space having been inspired by the work Chris Rutterford in the Colinton Tunnel. I thought that as we live in the home of our National Bard, it would be fitting to replicate this incredible art project here in Alloway and transform a space that had fallen into disrepair.

“Over the last year the Board of Trustees and volunteers have been working very hard behind the scenes to create and approve business plans, start fundraising, and prepare the tunnel for the art installation. It’s one thing to have a vision and plan, it’s quite another to make it happen. There are many people to thank for believing in our project and supporting it in different ways.

“Key to the success of this project is raising the necessary funds, and we are grateful to the Postcode Lottery Players, the National Lottery Community Fund, Sustrans Artroots, and many more funders for helping us get this project off to a great start. We are nearly halfway to reaching our fundraising total of £200,000, but we need to raise more funds so that we can finish the mural. We’ve completed the first of four sections of the mural, and we need to keep the momentum of the funding going to reach our goal. Now that the community has seen the quality of the artwork and the sheer scale of the project, we believe they will get behind us and support us with donations.

“We are very lucky to have enticed ChrisRutterford to be the lead artist on the project. Chris is one of the UK’s top mural artists and visionaries. The scale of Chris’s projects are jaw droppingly ambitious, and his approach, pioneering. He has a unique touching way of telling soulful stories by illustrating and building safe spaces with a focus on community involvement and belonging. His murals breathe fresh life into the areas he transforms to create destination venues. The feedback we have received from the public about the ART mural has been fantastic and his work has been instrumental in the success of our project.

“The other main reason for the success has been our focus on community involvement. In this first part of the project, we have involved around 1000 people. From age three to 93 years of age, hundreds have enjoyed painting alongside Chris in our workshops.  We’ve been very fortunate to have so many willing volunteers helping us clean and paint the tunnel walls, assist with marketing and bookkeeping, and many more tasks. The business community have been incredibly supportive too by sponsoring us or donating products and services.”

ART trustees are looking forward to the next stage of the project and working with the wider community in outreach art workshops and making short heritage films throughout Ayrshire.

Art and Design students from Ayrshire College have been painting alongside Chris to create an Ayr Market scene. Art and Design pupils from Belmont and Kyle Academies will be helping to paint the bridges on River Ayr and there will be a spectacular scene inside an Ayr Tavern where Tam O’Shanter and his cronies will be characterised adding new life and humour into the mural.

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