Author: skellystewart

Mural at Carlowrie Castle

The castle is located in Kirkliston, about 10 miles outside Edinburgh. It’s only been owned by 2 families since it was built in 1855

I was commissioned by Craft Design House to paint a mural dedicated to Isobel Wylie Hutchison (who lived in the castle for her entire 93 years). She was known for being a botanist, an explorer, artist, poet and anthropologist. The space to house the mural was to be in the top of the turret space, above the front door.

The inside of the turret space which has two windows, 2 doors, two inbuilt cupboards, a fireplace and a radiator.

My mission was to create a space that was dedicated to Isobels’ life and told her story through a timeline of key events. Isobel was known predominantly for her frequent expeditions to Iceland and Greenland, many of which she did on her own. I chose to feature an arctic scene because she referred to the arctic as her ‘fairyland’.

I began by drawing up the design and then taring pieces of paper and attaching them to the wall, which acted as a mask for the icebergs.

I proceeded with painting the sky and all the surrounding mountains in the distance (inspired by the Aleutian islands, off the coast of Russia as this is one of the destinations Isobel explored)

In her books and writings, she spoke of soaring birds, namely gulls, kittiwake and puffins off these islands, just to name a few.

For the timeline I was supplied with images and accompanying text which I decided to print out onto acetates, and transfer to the silkscreen so as I could print these images out onto lengths of plain white wallpaper in a colour of my choice.

Due to the existing colours on the Mural, I felt that the images needed to be bold yet fit into the colour scheme so I mixed the above two colours and screenprinted a few different images in the same colour, to compare their effectiveness.

Mural design at Carlowrie Castle, by Kelly Stewart
This is an image of Isobel during one of her expeditions to Iceland. She lived in a wooden hut for 6 weeks until the bad weather cleared before she could begin her journey.
Progress image after the wallpaper icebergs were attached to the wall, the paper masks were removed to reveal white icebergs beneath and the text was handwritten with an acrylic marker.

It all came together so well. I think it was a combination of not having any distractions as I was the only one in the castle during the 2 weeks that I was working on the mural. I quite often stared out the windows from standing on the scaffold peering out at the resident deer that were grazing on the manicured gardens below.

It was the end of November when I was working on the mural so I was able to enjoy many lovely sunsets during that time, which casts such beautiful light into the space.

This is the last photo I took before I finished up. I was absolutely delighted with the outcome of the mural. I particularly liked this image, showing the length my hair got to after lockdown and beyond!