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Huge painting transforms Dundee lane building in first of planned mural trail across city

A huge mural has completely transformed the side of a building on a Dundee alleyway.

The gable end on Tay Street Lane has been given a new look by collaborating artists Kirsty Whiten, of Fife, and The Fandangoe Kid, the moniker of London-based Annie Nicholson.

The 28ft artwork is entitled We Are Not the Sum of Our Trauma and centres on a striking female figure surrounded by bold messages.

The painting was facilitated by OpenClose Dundee, which plans to create a city-wide trail of murals across Dundee.

The Malting House Design Studio were delighted to support this project via the OpenClose crowdfund campaign.

Work on the Tay Street Lane piece began on September 29 and ended on October 5, however the scaffolding in place around the work was not removed until last Thursday.

Kirsty and Annie first met in Brooklyn, where the pair discovered a “strong crossover within their attitudes to making art”.

The artists explore taboos and subjects including mental health, sex and gender.

The Dundee mural came about after Kirsty travelled to Annie’s Hackney studio for a collaboration focusing on trauma and the body.

A joint statement from the artists on the city artwork reads: “Both artists are interested in transforming pain in their art, finding ways to move on. They created a sacred safe space, and a ceremony of painting of Annie’s story on to her body.

“This meaningful action generated imagery to fill a sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library.

“Over the course of the summer this work has been developed into an 8m-tall mural on the gable-end of a building in Dundee city centre, commissioned by OpenClose Dundee, and completed on October 5 2019.

The wall painting consists of a monumental female figure, powerful and tender, with bold statements around her and on her skin.

“We Are Not the Sum of Our Trauma focuses on wearing your story, weaving the fabric of past pain into the present through sharing and trusting. A way of owning moments of healing in a long process of recovery.

“The artists hope that the bold text and immense figure will have a reassuring, empowering presence for anyone viewing the mural and moved by its message.

“In this work the artists intend to shine a light on the beauty and strength of vulnerability, and the power that comes with sharing your pain and speaking your truth as you seek healing.”

The artists added: “Navigating your way back from trauma is work and a long, non-linear process of recovery, which ebbs and flows. This work celebrates that trajectory, marking the ceremonies and rituals for letting go.

“The mural seeks to prompt conversations around trauma, across all demographics, within the public sphere, taking an honest and personal story to reach out and smash the taboo around trauma, mental health, and healing.”

OpenClose Dundee manager Russell Pepper said the two artists were in the process of seeking a wall for a collaboration when he made contact with them.

He added he was “really, really pleased” with the finished work and that he has his eyes on “series of walls” across Dundee for future murals.

Mr Pepper said: “It is a lane that a lot of folk will pass every day but people might not have gone down. It is worth an explore.

“It is very close to The Rep and a good location for a mural.

“The ultimate aim of what OpenClose is doing is a trail of murals around the city centre, a city-wide trail encouraging people to explore the city and going to new places they wouldn’t usually go.”


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