Perhaps, the last thing you may think of when imagining a 13th century castle is loud and colourful graffiti… However, that’s exactly what Kelburn Castle showcases. In 2007, Kelburn Castle discovered that the castle wall’s rendering would soon need to be replaced as part of an ongoing restoration project, and an idea to use the existing walls as a temporary canvas was formed. The Boyle family, whose family has owned the castle for over 800 years, brought together four of the world’s leading graffiti artists from Brazil to create a unique burst of colour on the walls.
The artists, who included Nunca, Nina and the Os Gêmeos twins from the São Paulo Crew, turned the walls and turrets of the Castle’s south side into a bold and shocking artistic statement. The artists lived together in the Scottish castle for a month, allowing time to share and explore new ideas from both sides of the equator, culminating in a one-off, giant piece of collaborative art.
The art is a psychedelic and vibrant mural, a mixture of Scotland and Brazil painted on a building steeped in rural conservative perceptions. It’s no surprise then that the project received huge media attention, as it challenged the public’s understanding of both urban graffiti art and the British institution the building represents.
12 years on from the initial project, the mural remains and is much loved by people from all around the globe. In 2011, the mural was named as one of the world’s top 10 examples of street art by author and designer Tristan Manco – on a par with Banksy’s work in Los Angeles and the Favela Morro Da Providencia in Rio de Janeiro.
The graffiti has inspired the whole estate. The art doesn’t stop at the castle – it’s been immersed across the grounds and inspires events all year round, including the ever growing Kelburn Garden Party.
The walls are still to be repaired, meaning the artwork will one day have to go. However, Kelburn Castle hopes to start another project after that renovation is completed. And who knows what that may involve?
Kelburn Estate is open daily in the summer months 10am – 6pm, for more information please visit the website here
Kelburn Castle: Kelburn Estate, Fairlie, Largs KA29 0BE – Scotland