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Kirriemuir Signs of Change public art project launches in tribute to inspirational founder

Webster's High School pupils Isla Webb, Skye Ingram, Ronnie Hutchison, Owen Dalziel, Luke Mallinson and Mateusz Stanko.
Webster's High School pupils Isla Webb, Skye Ingram, Ronnie Hutchison, Owen Dalziel, Luke Mallinson and Mateusz Stanko.

A Kirriemuir public art project has launched in memory of its inspirational driving force.

Signs of Change has staged its first workshop with Webster’s High School youngster as part of a project which will also see murals created across the community.

The launch has been shadowed by the sudden passing of the project’s founder and inspiration, Neil Stevenson.

Philanthropist Neil approached Kirriemuir Community Council last year with the idea of a public art project.

He hoped it would both brighten the town and help rejuvenate its fortunes emerging from the pandemic.

DD8 Music

Local youth charity DD8 Music heard about Neil’s idea and immediately got involved to help develop it.

Tragically, Neil passed away on May 10, just before the project officially started.

Neil Stevenson was the inspiration behind the Kirrie project.

The 57-year-old spent his career in the oil industry in Europe and the US.

He was a keen advocate of community projects, including raising £2.7 million to build the Transition Extreme Sports centre in Aberdeen.

Signs of Change was inspired by a project Neil and his wife, Sheila, enjoyed in the Spanish village of Senija.

Town hall chiefs in the Costa Blanca community north east of Benidorm invited artists from across Spain to decorate buildings in a project which has boosted local tourism.

Neil’s family are now keen that the Signs of Change project continues in his memory.

A Just Giving page has been set up to support it and has already raised almost £2,000.

The project has secured initial funding through the Scottish Government’s Summer Fun programme.

Town mural locations

It will allow DD8 to offer a variety of art-based workshops and projects every Tuesday during the summer holidays for town youngsters.

The group also currently has an open artist call for a variety of sites in the town identified for new artworks.

Maureen Crosbie from Gallus Glass and Graham Galloway of Kirrie Connections are involved with Signs of Change.

They include ten boarded window panels on the distinctive Bellies Brae façade of the Wilkie’s textile factory.

A further three areas at St Colme’s Close in the town centre will also be used.

Project leaders hope famous Kirrie connections to Peter Pan creator J M Barrie, ACDC singer Bon Scott, mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro, textiles and agriculture will all feature.

And they are aiming for artists to engage with locals, particularly young people and senior citizens, in telling the story of the town through the artworks.

A deadline of June 30 has been set for artist applications.

More details about both the summer programme and the project are available on the Signs of Change Facebook page.

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