Express yourself art project - Burns Mall Underpass-4

Art Project Hits the Streets in Kilmarnock

An art project in East Ayrshire has brought a splash of colour to town, promoting diversity and supporting wellbeing for young people. The art installation, featuring dragons, flying fish and computer game inspired characters, has transformed a busy walkway in Kilmarnock town centre into a unique gallery experience. 

The project has been developed and delivered by East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership with The Articulate Hub, who provide opportunities for young people in Scotland to enjoy creative arts experiences. It enlisted the help of street artists Tragic O’Hara and Mackcolours, with East Ayrshire Council’s Kilmarnock Town Centre Regeneration team identifying the venue for the mural.

Entitled ‘Express Yourself’, the project ran over 10 weeks, culminating in the final art installation at Burns Mall Underpass. The young people participating chose to focus on diversity, developing their theme ‘if you want to be irreplaceable, you need to be different’ and taking inspiration from computer game characters.

Working closely with the street artists, the participants developed a host of new street art skills. The project also provided a creative outlet during lockdown, letting the young people use art to help manage their emotional wellbeing and as a safe way to freely express thoughts and feelings.

Amy Claire, a student at the William McIlvanney campus, said: “I love drawing and did lots of it during lockdown on my own, so I feel that I have got much more confident over the past 10 weeks, and this has helped me socialise with other people in our group.”

Hayley, who attends Loudoun Academy, said: “People won’t believe that I did this. It makes me feel really good to see people enjoying my art.”

Councillor Claire Leitch, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, East Ayrshire Council, joined the art group as they added their final touches to the installation. She said: “Projects like these are important because they bring multiple benefits to participants, while enhancing the places where they’re displayed. Wellbeing, skills, confidence and pride in our communities are all enhanced, while making the places we live, work and shop more attractive and inviting to be.

“The quality of the artwork, along with the commendable ideas and messages behind it, really truly blew me away. The murals are a fantastic addition to the town centre - a real asset that will help brighten up the day for passers-by. ”

Jamie Turnbull from East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership helped coordinate the project. He said: “The young people picked gaming as their topic as it’s so diverse and is shared across generations. Gaming can create a wide range of characters and allow you be incredibly diverse. The young people believe that society has more restrictions on your own character so they wanted to express this with the community and create a safe space for you to be you, creating unique characters within the mural.

“The young people are loving the feedback and ownership that the community are taking over their mural, which is just amazing to see”.


The Articulate Hub

Articulate Cultural Trust exists to remove the barriers and promote the benefits of creative participation.

Everyone involved in the Hub has a lifelong passion for the arts, creative learning and cultural education and shares a commitment to supporting as many points of access to the best quality, most meaningful and transformative arts experiences possible, especially for those who experience barriers to participation.

Our collective vision is for a world where young people fulfil their potential through engaging with arts practice, creative learning and cultural process.