The Graffiti Project led to a funky artistic Scotland

In 2007 Alice Boyle managed to persuade Brazilian street artists to paint a phantasmagoria on the ancient walls of her family home, Kelburn Castle, in Ayrshire.

The Graffiti Project became a global sensation and a symbol of a new, funkier Scotland.

Yet when it came to her own hopes of becoming an artist, she was afraid to follow her dream. ‘I’d just done a Masters in Interior Architecture and felt that I had to see it through,’ she explains.

For two years Alice designed other people’s homes in an architectural practice in London but compared to seeing 1,000 cans of paint sprayed onto the walls of a 13th Century castle, it paled in comparison. The experience of working with street artists like Os Gemeos, who paint fantastical creatures on buildings around the world, had changed her.

‘The Graffiti Project made me think you can do what you really want to do,’ she says. ‘I made friends with the artists and they encouraged me to pursue my painting. I just thought if I don’t do it now, I never will.’

The daughter of Lord Glasgow took a job in a bar at night and worked on her paintings during the day. Slowly, pieces began to sell and she made a name for herself. The paintings are inspired by the landscape of Scotland and eventually the pull of home – and a boyfriend – brought her back to live in Edinburgh. The 33-year-old now has her own studio in a warehouse in the capital where she works every day.

Her brother David, who is now running Kelburn Castle and Country Centre, was also influenced by the Graffiti Project, and runs a music and arts festival, The Kelburn Garden Party, every year.

Alice says they had an ‘eccentric’ childhood full of lots of people coming and going. The various characters and of course the character of the castle itself, mixing ancient brick with modern materials in a family home were all an inspiration.

Today she works with plaster to bring texture into a painting to ‘enhance the senses and connect to the psyche’. She is influenced by writers like Carl Gustav Jung, who believes that dreams tap into the collective subconscious, to try to express images the viewer can relate to – even without knowing it.

The paintings are full of animals and symbols, as well as splashes of bold colour reminiscent of the Graffiti Project.

Alice believes art should be a calming process for the viewer as well as expressing the feelings of the artist. Her canvases are peppered with mythology and folklore and even Egyptian hieroglyphs. ‘If people get the sense of fantasy, something surreal, a dream, then it is working,’ she says.

With paintings selling well , her own dream is coming true. ‘The Graffiti Project inspired me,’ she says. ‘If you really want to do something, you will find a way.’

Visit for more details on her latest work.

(This feature was originally published in 2015)