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Cowdenbeath’s Larger Than Life Artwork

06 June

Year of Stories

It might be surprising to hear Cowdenbeath mentioned in the same breath as New York or London, but this little town in the heart of Fife is fast becoming renowned in the street art scene. 

Over the last five years, local artist Kerry Wilson has brightened spaces in the town’s high street with enormous, expertly painted murals.

This bold initiative was organised as part of wider efforts to help attract visitors to the town. It started with the Shutter Art project, where former youth worker Kerry helped brighten up Cowdenbeath’s shop fronts with help from local schoolkids. The success of the shutters emboldened the community to go even bigger with their next instalment of public art.

The first mural entrusted to Kerry’s capable hands was to adorn the end of the police station as a centrepiece for the Heritage Garden. The story of Cowdenbeath is closely tied up with its mining heritage which is still a significant part of the town’s identity today. However, when it comes to Cowdenbeath’s reinvention, it’s important to look forward as well as glance back.

By painting an anonymous child complete with an adult miner’s helmet and pair of oversized boots, the art has a more modern outlook than some traditional mining memorials. The viewer’s attention is drawn to the children of the future, who have been shaped by the generations that came before. It’s an astonishingly powerful piece and all the more impressive considering it was the first project of this scale Kerry had taken on.

With the popularity of the Heritage Garden, it was decided that Cowdenbeath’s green space deserved similar treatment, but with a different subject. The first mural had been dedicated to the past and so this time the focus would be purely on things to come.

It was another chance for Kerry to challenge herself and rather than including an anonymous face this time, she decided to paint the image of somebody local. Up stepped Lucie to be the star of the show, making dandelion wishes and ensuring that she’ll remain a Cowdenbeath legend.

There was one large wall left unadorned now, directly across from Lucie’s mural and by this point suggestions were flying in for consideration. Different toys were popular choices along with a commemoration of the Covid pandemic that had recently struck the world. In the end, Kerry decided to combine the ideas with her own twist.

A young blurred-out boy is seen playing with his toy cars, a nod to Cowdenbeath’s legendary stock car races. There’s a subtle message within the larger-than-life cars though, with a pickup truck towing away a smiling Lego man. It’s the story of an everyday hero coming to the rescue, in a time when many people feel like they could do with a helping hand.

The three prominent artworks mark a new chapter for the town and they’ve clearly been a success. Word has spread and their popularity is already drawing visitors from far and wide, just to see the Cowdenbeath Murals.

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