Seafront Mural Aims to Inspire Visits to Stranraer

A dramatic mural is being painted on the Stranraer seafront, celebrating the town’s connections to the ocean and growing importance as a destination for water sports.

It is being created as a centrepiece for Dumfries & Galloway’s annual Spring Fling open studios weekend (25-27 May) to draw visitors to the far west of the region.

The dramatic, semi-abstract artwork covers the walls of the Stranraer Water Sports Association (SWSA) boathouse at Agnew Park.

It has been designed and painted by Amy Whiten and Ali Wylie, of Argyll-based street art specialists Recoat, along with local visual artist Jennifer Buchanan.

Themes include Stranraer’s seafaring history and the new ways its waters are being used. It features buoys and boats used in the hugely popular skiffie (coastal rowing boat) races and the oysters for which the town is now famous.

Amy said: We hope the mural brings colour to the town and that locals see it as a celebration of the past and future of Stranraer. Also, that it will spark conversations about Stranraer and what people value about their hometown. 
“The building houses the SWSA’s beautiful skiffs, paddle boards and kayaks and it would be a bonus if more people got involved in enjoying the water.”
Jennifer added: “This is a great project to be involved with an I really hope it inspires people to take pride in Stranraer, its history and its future.”

The Spring Fling Rural Mural (SFRM) project is a partnership between Upland (which runs Spring Fling) the SWSA and Creative Stranraer. It’s funded by the Kilgallioch Community Fund, which is administered by Foundation Scotland.

Joanna Jones, Upland Assistant Director, said: “Spring Fling is hugely successful in bringing visitors to the region, and the Stranraer mural will be a real centrepiece – helping attract people to explore all that the far west of this beautiful part of Scotland has to offer.
“This year 15 of the 104 studios taking part in the open studios weekend are in this part of the region, so there’s a superb choice of things to see and do.”

The painting of the mural coincides with the anniversary of Creative Stranraer opening its King Street hub, which offers everything from visual arts classes and events to lessons in song writing.

The hub is close to Creative Stranraer’s first mural project, by Tragic O’Hara, which also celebrates the town and region.

Janet Jones, Creative Stranraer Art and Engagement Officer, said: “Murals make Stranraer more colourful, vibrant and exciting. They are a great way to generate interest, to brighten up the town, brighten people’s spirits and inspire them.
“It will help getting more recognition for Stranraer – people will come to see it during Spring Fling and after that, share pictures on social media and that will raise our profile.”

Creative Stranraer believes the two pieces of public art will help link the centre of the town and the seafront.

There are also hopes that an artistic buzz, plus water sports, will help in efforts to attract inward investment – something much needed in an area that has suffered economically, partly due to the relocation of the Belfast ferry terminal after more than 150 years.

One plus from the loss of the ferry terminal has been the opening up of a large area of sheltered water which is perfect for water sports.

The SWSA sees the mural as a way to highlight this emerging part of Stranraer’s identity and the events and activities it has pioneered. These included attracting the Skiffie Worlds (world coastal rowing boat championships) in 2019 – and their much-anticipated return in 2025.

The painting of the mural comes at an important moment for the SWSA with the construction of its new Water Sports Centre due to begin in May.

Wendi Cuffe, SWSA Project Manager, said: “The mural looks great and is going to really help show off Stranraer as a centre for water-based activities.
“When the ferries went we were left with this fantastic expanse of sheltered water, so we’ve been working to make the most of it.
“We were established in 2016 with St Ayles Skiff Coastal Rowing, and over the last two years we’ve expanded to offer kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, sailing, swimming and lots more. 
“The water sports and the mural are exactly the sort of things that show Stranraer off as an up-and-coming location – a place to come to live, work and invest.”
Callum Sinclair, Chair of the Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company (Kilgallioch Community Fund), added:“We were delighted to support the Spring Fling Rural project. The creation of this spectacular new artwork for Stranraer fits perfectly with our aim of strengthening communities by investing in action that enables people and places to flourish.”

About SFRM24  

  • This will be the third Spring Fling Rural Mural (SFRM) – and follows successful projects in 2014 and 2016 which saw nine large temporary artworks created around the region.
  • This year’s partners held several sessions with the local community to get their ideas. This included sessions hosted by Creative Stranraer, a community workshop at the boat house, working with the Urban Collective skate club (which encourages young people to take part in outdoor activities) and a full day with 200 students at Stranraer Academy.
  • Local artist Jennifer Buchanan has made a particularly important contribution. Her elements of the mural depict historical imagery from archive photography of Stranraer, like the fishing boat or old munitions factory.
  • Creative Stranraer has just opened a special anniversary exhibition showing work from artist in residence Erinclare Scrutton.