The project originated during the Covid lockdowns in 2020-2021 when local people were spending time working from home and walking locally. Residents became more aware of some drab aspects of the built environment and approached Cambuslang Community Council with suggestions for improving the town.
One major outcome was the Cambuslang Gateway Project. This was inspired by a five-year old boy called Hamish. He started growing a sunflower during the pandemic at a time when everyone was isolating, and he left it on Glasgow Road where he hoped it might cheer people up. The yellow colour was striking and brought colour to what was a desolate spot. Hamish’s parents uploaded a video showing the sunflower’s growth progression with Hamish on social media. It struck a chord locally and around the world (as far as Australia and Canada) during bleak times.
This lovely initiative chimed with other suggestions to bring more colour to Cambuslang especially at the entrances to the town.
To develop the ideas, Cambuslang Community Council created the Cambuslang Gateway Project group in mid-2021, comprising also Cambuslang Apiary Project, Cambuslang Rotary Club, Central Cambuslang Community Garden, Conservation Area residents, Grow 93, Lightburn Elderly Action Project, South Lanarkshire Council (SLC), the Universal Connections Youth Club and local school children. The group identified three gateway structures suitable for murals:
a) the Beech Avenue railway bridge wall, facing the main road (Glasgow Rd) into Cambuslang, which was grey and prone to graffiti;
b) an area across from the bridge, where Hamish left his sunflower, christened the Sunflower Garden, which also had a grey wall, broken benches and derelict planters;
c) the forecourt of Cambuslang Station, which had become faded, with a drab wall and unauthorised advertising.
With the infrastructure owned by the railway, the support of Network Rail and ScotRail was crucial. Along with the local Community Rail Partnership CRP74, all were core members of the partnership.
The project had a budget of £15,000, funded by awards from the National Lottery Community Fund Scotland, Community Rail Partnership CRP74, and the SLC Cambuslang-Rutherglen Area Committee.
The artwork was developed pro bono by a local creative designer, Chris Hannah. The bridge welcome mural was designed to create a 3-D effect (physical letters could not be fixed to the parapet), with colours reflecting the brick/stonework of nearby buildings. The station mural showcased 14 of the town’s best-loved community landmarks and architecture, selected through a public consultation. The colours of Sunflower Garden were intended to create a colourful backdrop for planting and a new seating area.
The painting of the murals was done by Artisan Artworks and Robert Bell Decorating in June-July 2022. As each mural was developed and completed, a social media campaign promoted local interest and excitement. The final stage involved repainting of the station frontage, the replacement of bike lockers with a modern bike shelter, repainting of the station post box and phone kiosk, and removal of unauthorised advertising. Lastly, local volunteers planted the station forecourt and the Sunflower Garden with vibrant colourful flowers.
Supporting StatementCommunity engagement. The project is the most significant community-led project undertaken to date in Cambuslang. The Cambuslang Community Gateway Partnership Group involved representatives from different parts and demographics of the community, as noted above.
This community engagement is ongoing. Local businesses sponsored a competition ‘How well do you know Cambuslang?’ based on the images on the station mural. A Christmas Calendar, featuring photos of the ‘best-loved places’ in the town (from the mural designs), raised £1200 for food vouchers for struggling families. Local schools are growing plants from sunflower seeds for the Sunflower Garden, which is now on a local bee line. Residents and businesses are working together to develop further murals to revive drab gable ends in the town centre and replication of the station murals at two roundabouts on main roads leading into Cambuslang.
Benefit and impact. Social media recorded the highest-ever number of views and likes on the Cambuslang Community Council Facebook and Twitter accounts and reposting/retweeting via other accounts. Young people posted selfies of themselves posing in front of the Cambuslang signs. The heart-warming story of Hamish and the Sunflower Garden was picked up in local and national media, including an STV News item on 22 July 2022. More local people have expressed an interest in being involved in the community council and other community groups.
Enhancement of the environment. The project transformed three dull areas at the road and rail entrances to the town which have a high degree of visibility for residents and visitors. The improvements are evident in the community reaction in social and print media, typified by these quotes
“This is brilliant – love the cheery colours” (SM)
“Really lifts the place. Love it!” (CG)
“Great job, it brightens up the Main Street” (ED)
“A lovely colourful welcome to Cambuslang” (HM)
“I love seeing it driving in, looks great” (MS)
“Totally brilliant looks great and definitely makes a big difference” (LB)
Build design and quality. The design of the artwork was undertaken by a professional designer, a local resident born in Cambuslang and with a strong connection to the town. It was inspired and influenced by the local community through public consultation, from Hamish’s sunflower wall to the station mural which features some of the community’s best-loved places and spaces, including the parks, historic buildings and monuments (including the iconic Miners’ Monument). The quality of design was followed through in the creation of the murals by professional artists, with anti-graffiti finish. The spaces are being maintained and enhanced by volunteers ensuring year-round planting to ensure vibrant colour.
Achievement of the project. The Cambuslang Gateway Project fulfilled an important objective of the Cambuslang Future strategy, a community-led initiative to rejuvenate the town centre of Cambuslang developed by Cambuslang Community Council and South Lanarkshire Council in consultation with residents and businesses. The distinctive contribution of the project is to improve the built environment and promote civic pride. It has used murals to create a bright, welcoming identity for the town at road and rail gateways.