Oor Wullie BIG Bucket Trail

August 7, 2019 by Perthshire Creates

The Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail is the first nationwide art trail to take place in the world and launched in Scotland on 17 June and runs for a few more weeks, finishing on 30 August. The project is in aid of three charities: the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, and the ARCHIE Foundation. The trail ends with a series of farewell events and nationwide auctions.

According to a 2004 survey, Oor Wullie is ‘Scotland’s Favourite Son’ beating William Wallace, Sean Connery, and Robert Burns which made him the ideal candidate for this art installation (plus I think a Sean Connery art trail would have been a tad strange).

The trail stretches from Glasgow to Inverness and we have two sculptures in Perth: ‘Oor Tatha Rannsachair’ (‘Oor Tay Explorer’) by Victoria Wylie outside the train station and ‘Oor Flooers O’ Scotland’ by Freya Cumming in the St Johns Shopping Centre.

Freya Cumming, an illustrator and printmaker from Abernyte, has been involved in the project; ‘I have recently enjoyed creating patterns for a range of hand-printed wallpapers, and so I wanted my design submission to be a pattern too. I created the repeat using several wildflowers of Scotland. There are the ones you would expect to find, the harebell, thistle and heather. I also found some beautiful flowers that I had never heard of, the twinflower, shetland mouse-ear and alpine catchfly.

It was quite difficult to apply the pattern to a 3D object, and so I spent a long time marking out where to place each repeat before I started painting. The painting process was really enjoyable and I miss his presence in my studio! I have been to visit him in the St Johns Centre, and its really lovely to see people having their picture taken with him! I was delighted to have my design chosen and to be a part of the Oor Wullie Bucket trail for such a fantastic cause.  

‘Oor Flooers O’ Scotland’ by Freya Cumming in the St Johns Shopping Centre, Perth

Another Perthshire-based artist involved in the trail is Ceri White whose piece, ‘Wullie Yer A Pure Dancer’, can be found just outside the Glasgow Science Centre. She says she chose the Glasgow charity because  ‘I was saying goodbye to my childhood home in the area at the time of the application, and have been spending a lot of time back out west, personally and professionally.’ She says that ‘on the whole, it’s been a total joy to be part of the project’.

‘Sharing the painting unit with other artists, it was fantastic to see other sculptures come to life, seeing the volunteers come in and wrap them for transporting, to spray them when finished… then seeing the finished, varnished Wullies come back in all their shiny splendour was a thrill! I love seeing all the photos the public post of the Wullies I saw coming to life, as well as my own’.

‘In fact seeing the reaction and enthusiasm of people when they see my Oor Wullie is one of the best parts. I’ve had a few messages from folks whose kids have liked my guy the best for whatever reason, which is really touching and I love it! That’s the joy of public art and having interactions with people in a way I wouldn’t normally experience’.

Artist Ceri White working on her ‘Wullie Yer A Pure Dancer’

However, she did have to do a speedy repair on the sculpture after the first week when Wullie’s tongue stud was ripped out (not a sentence I thought I’d be writing today). But being exposed to the public she says ‘it’s to be expected and so far the replacement stud is still there’.

From a creative perspective, Ceri says her design, which has various embellishments, did involve ‘a LOT of trial and error! But that’s half the fun and it was refreshing to have non-ceramic problems to solve. It’s incredible to have this large finished sculpture in front of you when you started with a small drawing on a piece of A4 paper’.

Ceri White face to face with her design ‘Wullie Yer A Pure Dancer’

‘Since doing the Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail, (and because it gave me the confidence to deliver quickly) I’ve also designed and made a Crieff Cowch’. Ceri’s design, Moodnight Gardens, is situated at the old St Michael’s Churchyard in Crieff – for more on this trail, you can read our article here. And to whet your appetite Ceri writes, ‘When night falls, the rolling meadows and all their inhabitants change into something else; a new mysterious landscape with unknown inhabitants. Who knows what the cows get up to?’

To any artists tempted to get involved with a similar project, Ceri says ‘I’d say give it a go, submit a nice clear proposal and then really plan what you’re going to because nearly every artist has found it takes longer than they imagined!’

Other Perthshire based artists creating an Oor Wullie include Lorna Radbourne’s design ‘Soaring’ which is located in Hamilton, you can read more about her design on this blog piece from the Oor Wullie website. Gail Robertson’s ‘A Shadow of his former self’ is in St Andrews, and Alison Price’s ‘Can we Build it’ is aptly sponsored by Balfour Beattie and can be found on the Tay Road Bridge underpass in Dundee.

There are about two hundred Oor Wullie BIG Bucket Trail sculptures across the country, so if you want to see them all you’d better get moving. You can download the maps from the Oor Wullie website and you can also vote for your favourite sculpture in the OWBBT App.

Before heading off to auction in September, there are a number of events planned across Scotland for Oor Wullie’s BIG Farewell Weekend (13 – 15 Sept), tickets are limited and to find out what is on where, full details can be found here.


Copy kindly provided by Andrew Jameson, working as a Perthshire Creates Content Volunteer, one of the various volunteering opportunities available within Culture Perth & Kinross


Top image shows: ‘Oor Tatha Rannsachair’ (‘Oor Tay Explorer’) by Victoria Wylie outside the Perth train station