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Cutting edge street art at world famous Scottish landmark

30 June 2011

A team of renowned Scottish street artists have descended on the famous John O'Groats hotel - as it takes its last moment in the limelight before it is redeveloped.

The 19th century hotel, built on the original site of the home of Dutch ferryman Jan de Groot, is being used as a giant canvas by six artists taking part in an arts project at the world famous tourist destination.

The largest street art project the Highlands has ever seen, the work will culminate, with that of three other professional artists, in the 'Transform' weekend at John O'Groats this weekend (July 2 and 3).

The John O'Groat hotel project is being managed by DUFI, which was set up in 2004 in the Scottish Highlands by artists Fin Macrae and Alister MacInnes. The team are working with Richie Cumming, Fraser Gray, Martin McGuiness and Mike Inglis.

All artists are well known to each other having worked together in the successful street art exhibition "Rough Cut Nation" at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in the summer of 2009.

Dufi's Fin Macrae commented: "John O' Groats is part of our national psyche - it exists together with Loch Ness, the Forth Railway Bridge and Gretna Green as iconic places in Scotland.

"It is a place I associate with my childhood - we want to bring something of that childlike excitement and wonder back there; of holidays, destinations, journeys and travel. One of the central themes that has arisen in our work is nostalgia and what that means to us as we look back on our childhoods. 'Are We There Yet?' - the title of the artwork - is something we can all identify with. To us it says something about John O'Groats being both a destination and part of a journey, especially as its re-development begins.

"The hotel itself is an amazing canvas to work on. We hope to achieve a visually striking and coherent narrative using a combination of traditional spraypaint techniques, paste-ups and installations."

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with additional European funding from LEADER, is organising the Transform weekend as part of the wider project to redevelop John O'Groats. This temporary exhibition will be followed by longer term arts involvement in the multi-million pound transformation of the village.

Nick Scroggie, of HIE commented; "This weekend's festival, with its dramatic blend of cutting edge street art as well as works celebrating the local heritage and culture of John O'Groats, will offer something for everyone.

"DUFI are experience in both community and artist led projects. Their exploration of alternative forms of traditional street graphics, in both two dimensional and three dimensional forms, will bring something unique to the area.

"It is exciting to have world class public art here at John O'Groats. We hope it marks the start of new ways of attracting people to the village and that as the redevelopment takes place it can better meet the needs of those who travel here from around the world."

The hotel is owned by Heritage Great Britain, which with private partners Natural Retreats, and with public funding of £1.8 million from HIE, will begin phase one of the redevelopment later this year.

Allan Leech of Heritage Great Britain said: "We are delighted that the hotel will have one final dramatic moment of glory before work starts on the site later this year. While it looks back to the past we, with Natural Retreats and our public sector partners, are very much looking forward to the new future of John O'Groats which has been so significantly shaped by the views of local people. It will be a place which will focus on quality and on reflecting the tradition and culture of the people and place."

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