This fun-loving, charity art trail takes to the streets of Scotland today, so we’re getting inside the creative minds behind some of the most stunning sculptures!
Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail is bringing a splash of colour and childlike joy to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling this summer. From June 17 till August 30, Scotland’s major cities will unite for 11 weeks with 200 life-sized sculptures of the nation’s favourite and forever young son, Oor Wullie.
As the first of its kind on a national scale, The BIG Bucket Trail aims to raise awareness and vital funds for Scotland’s children’s hospital charities. Following the event, there will be a series of nationwide auctions in the five host cities.
We sit down for a chat with one of the trail’s well-known artists and discover more about the mind behind the art.
Artist: Douglas Roulston
Statue: ‘Oor Nevis’
Charity: The ARCHIE Foundation
Location: Inverness Castle
What inspired you to not only paint Nevis, but then climb the Munro with Oor Wullie practically strapped to your back?
When I first suggested this, everyone involved said to me, “You have got to be joking! You’re you having a laugh!”
I painted a penguin last year for Maggie’s Penguin Parade and the view I depicted was the top of the Sidlaws. The more that people like the sculpture, the more expensive it is at auction. So we thought, let’s climb the Sidlaws with it. And that paid off. My penguin went for £9,500 and was in the top 6.
So when I was asked to get involved with Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail, I thought how am I going to top that? I just instantly knew that I wanted to do Ben Nevis.
How did you go about getting ‘Oor Nevis’ to the top?
I got a team together from Forfar Academy where I teach, as well as some cousins and friends.
The people who were on the trip were just amazing and I couldn’t have done it without them. I’ve actually just finished putting their names in gold, very fine, on the base. Just to thank them.
It did look really bizarre to other hikers. We probably should’ve put a sign on it explaining what we were doing. But it was fantastic!
A crowd gathered at the top, waiting to find out what on Earth we were carrying. When it was revealed they all gave a big Highland cheer! It was just phenomenal. It was a really emotional moment because everyone just totally got behind it.
What does it mean to you to have your art supporting charities? How does that feel?
I am just absolutely overwhelmed by it. To be a part of something so large and to help such an amazing charity has just been fantastic!
Realising all of these wee things that you’ve done is going to make a lot of money for the charity is amazing.
People have been so supportive and I’m really happy about that and the lovely messages people have sent me about the project.
How long did it take you to complete ‘Oor Nevis?’
It wasn’t actually complete when it went up the hill, but that was actually part of the plan. I had never climbed Ben Nevis, so I thought it wouldn’t have been right for me to paint Nevis on Oor Wullie without having been there myself.
There are a lot of mountaineers who know every single nook and cranny of the mountain, so if I didn’t get it right… I mean have used a lot of artistic license due to my art style, but I wanted to get it right.
I also usually do my paintings in oil paint. BIG Bucket specifies that you use acrylics. Acrylics, for me, dry very quickly. With oil paint I would get a lovely blend, so it was hard trying to recreate my style on an Oor Wullie. But it takes a lot longer to build up those blends, therefore there’s a lot of paint on that Oor Wullie. It was actually quite difficult – very difficult.
Overall, it probably took a good month’s work of going in for a couple of hours each night after work. But it was well worth it!
‘Oor Nevis’ is stunning! Tell me a bit about your artistic style?
Being outside and actually in the elements painting rather than in the studio is my favourite thing to do. I started out going to Scottish Islands to paint beaches and it’s the colours of that really inspired me.
My art is quite realistic in the sense that it’s detailed but I put a contemporary slant by adding very vibrant colours. I’m going for a realistic look with colour twists, lots of light and over-exaggerated things to create a romantic scene.
Really I just paint because I love colour and I love the Scottish landscape.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: “We are thrilled to work with Douglas Roulston to create an ‘Oor Nevis’ Wullie. Capturing the rugged beauty of Ben Nevis, this wonderfully painted sculpture celebrates Scotland’s stunning scenery and landscapes, which we know to be a major draw for visitors.
“Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change. At VisitScotland we want to champion collaboration and spearhead innovation, and this nationwide trail is an excellent new way to get visitors travelling across Scotland.”
For more information on Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail, visit www.oorwullie.com
And track down ‘Oor Nevis’ at Inverness Castle here.
NEXT read all about Art Director Suzanne Scott’s Oor Wullie process as she paints not one but two for the nation’s biggest and greatest art trail here >>