Epic mural unveiled at Bannockburn

Thursday 18 June 2015

The award winning Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre is entering the next spectacular phase in its development. Their latest addition is a massive new mural by Chris Rutterford which has taken more than a year to complete.

Chris says the aim of the painting is to emphasise the heartbeat of humanity at the historic site and complement the visitor experience. The stunning 2m by 30m mural occupies the centre’s courtyard in time for the 701st anniversary of the battle, and is the first art-work to make use of the space.

The Battle of Bannockburn centre is the first of its kind in the world featuring state of the art motion capture and interactive technology. Visitors are immersed in a 3D medieval world. They are also given the opportunity to command a division in the army of Bruce or Edward II and win or lose the famous battle.

Chris said: “As a proud Scot the battle of Bannockburn is something I've always wanted to paint. It's a defining moment in Scottish history and such a powerful story. Not just that but the spears are amazing. They set up stunning dynamics in the picture. I'm so pleased to have realised this ambition and to have it hung on the battlefield itself is a huge honour.”

Chris has a track history of building huge crowd murals. In 2011 he painted a 20 metre Tam o’ Shanter mural with a coven of witches chasing the drunken horseman and in 2012 he built a painting from the Tron kirk on the Royal Mile with over 3000 portraits of the classic Edinburgh Hogmanay.

Last year was a busy one for Chris.  In addition to Bannockburn, he built a painting live from the Grassmarket in Edinburgh telling the 18th century story of the Hanging of Maggie Dickson. Once again the crowd characters were made up of visitors to the festival not only that but he painted a 60 metre long community mural with four schools of pupils as a new feature for Mayfield and Easthouses in Midlothian.

The way the crowd was gathered in this project was a bit different, however. Reference for the army was gained through a crowd-funding campaign. The project funded a live storytelling event at the Scottish storytelling centre in Edinburgh during the week of the 700th anniversary, the growing painting provided a backdrop for an interactive storytelling show.

Now the painting is complete, it has made its way to the most appropriate wall in Scotland and it is adding to the centre which has already been crowned ‘best visitor experience’ by the Association of Visitor Attractions Scotland. 

”I could not get over the size of the mural when I finally saw it.” said Scott McMaster, manager at the Battle of Bannockburn. ”I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get used to having it here - it is a remarkable mural.”

Though the painting is a serious work of art, for a battle picture it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Robert the Bruce in this picture is played by Charlie Allan from Saor Patrol. Both Charlie and other members of the Clanranald Trust for Scotland were heavily involved in the fight choreography for both the new and former visitor centres.

There are other more surprising combatants though. One of the warriors has brought his pet cat to the party, it is being held by a five year old boy with a battle axe.  Lorraine Kelly who previously appeared as a barmaid in Chris’s Tam  o’ Shanter mural has pride of place to the left of the king with Glasgow Warrior Alistair Kellock on his right.

“I think you need real diversity in the crowd an iconic Scottish story and everyone is allowed to have their own perspective on it. For me allowing people to add their character to the image is the only way to give it a ring of truth.”

The mural will be on display until 31 October.

The Battle of Bannockburn experience was supported by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s open all year round, seven days a week – book tickets at www.battleofbannockburn.com

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