Creativity crushed by “killjoy” council


Residents and tourists alike have been getting up close and personal with the art works

By Claire Cameron


“guerrilla’ art that appeared overnight on the streets of Edinburgh is being removed on health and safety grounds.

The 40ft portrait of a hooded man was approved by celebrated French street artist JR and is causing a sensation after it was created on steps in the middle of the city.

But officials have ordered it to be removed on the grounds that a spell of rain could turn the artwork into a slip hazard.

It has been confirmed that the picture was created by students at Edinburgh College of Art.

The same group, funded and inspired by French artist JR, were earlier in the week given permission to create massive portraits on Edinburgh University’s McEwan Hall.

Their surprise artwork on the steps of Warriston Close has amazed and delighted locals and tourists alike, who have flocked to the area to be photographed.

But the city’s director of festival and events, Councillor Steve Cardownie, said the image had to go.

He said:

“They are spectacular and we want to give people a chance to see them. We don’t want to be killjoys. “

But he added:

“We’re going to leave them till tonight but then they’ll have to be removed in case the rain acts with the paste to make the stairs slippy and a health hazard. “

Joe Caslin, a student at Edinburgh College of Art, who created the artwork, said:

“JR didn’t put it up himself but he saw it and gave it his nod of approval.

“We informed the council a week ago that it was going up in the first place as part of the Inside Out project. It adds to the urban landcape so much more than other things do. The council says it’s going to cost lots of money to remove it. But how much does it cost to remove chewing gum?

“It was always meant to be a temporary piece of art and it is incredibly sad that bureaucracy has got in the way. “

Passers-by were today raving about the creation. The portrait depicts a hooded man looking out on to the street below. Invisible to people walking down the steps of the close, the image can only be seen from the base of the stairs.

They included Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, head of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, who likened the portrait to

“a contemporary Jesus.”

He said:

“It makes a great statement and must have taken whoever did it hours to do. It’s classical Edinburgh random art. “

Local worker Andy McGroarty said:

“I love it when people in the dark of the night get spray paints and do something that brightens up the place. I think it’s fantastic.

“All day people have stopped and had a good look. I think things like this pull people out of their sleepy mundane lives and makes them pay attention. “

The city’s economic development convener, Councillor Tom Buchanan, admitted the


“guerilla’ artwork’ had created

“quite a stir.”

The debate over whether health and safety rules stifle creativity and take the fun out of life has raged in recent years.

Earlier this year a group of Scottish soldiers were due to complete a gruelling 1,750-mile bike trip from Italy on Edinburgh Castle’s esplanade but were denied access because of health and safety rules.

A spokesman for Edinburgh council said later: “We’re trying to be flexible so the artwork can stay in place for longer.

“Rain was forecast for early Friday morning but that has changed.

“We do need to remove it before it gets wet, so that people can use the steps safely.

“The art project involved understands that we have to be responsible and we are talking to them about plans to remove it.”