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The BIG reveal: Jute, Jam, Journalism and Wullie sponsored by Hillcrest Enterprises

Posted: June 18, 2019

Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail is back and bigger than ever, and we’re delighted to finally reveal our Jute, Jam, Journalism and Wullie statue, which is sponsored by Hillcrest Enterprises and proudly sits at the front of Dundee’s Malmaison hotel.

After many weeks of keeping the design firmly under wraps, with the start of the BIG Bucket Trail on Monday 17th June, we are delighted to finally pull back the curtain and showcase oor own Wullie to the world!

Designed as an ode to Dundee’s rich industrial heritage, and the city’s key industries of Jute, preserves and journalism, the design sees Oor Wullie sporting elements of each. Wullie’s legs feature a painted jute rope texture, and jam is splattered across him from head to toe. He also sits on a bucket painted with newspaper pages.

We’d also like to cast the spotlight on the creative mind and skilled hands behind the design.

Geoff Gunning is a married dad of five who has worked in the city’s games industry for the last 26 years, currently plying his creative skills as an artist at games developer Ninja Kiwi.

Artist Geoff Gunning with his creation – Jute, Jam, Journalism and Wullie.

Having lived in Dundee all his life, Geoff was keen to get involved after seeing how the city came alive during the previous Bucket and Penguin Trails. Geoff said:

“It really felt like the Oor Wullie and penguin statues brought life to the streets of Dundee. It was so good to see kids and families everywhere, tracking them all down and posing for photos.”

Despite this year’s BIG Bucket Trail spreading out from Dundee to take over most of Scotland, Geoff was keen for his design to be specific to his home city.

“We have so much to be proud of in this city, especially with all the changes and redevelopment that is taking place right now. However, I wanted to look back to the city’s industrial heritage and submit a design based on the three industries the place was built on – Jute Jam and Journalism.”

Discussing bringing his concept to life, Geoff added:

“To be honest, the submission sketch didn’t take long at all, probably only half an hour in Photoshop one lunchtime.  It really was a huge thrill to hear that my design had been chosen, especially as it was Hillcrest that picked it up.”

“Of course, then there was the reality of having to paint a fully detailed 5ft sculpture. I didn’t have any studio space so Wullie was set up in my living room for the entire painting duration. My family were more than patient and every bit as chuffed as I was to welcome a new houseguest, and they didn’t even complain once that he was blocking the view of the TV!”

“The painting process took just over a month, squeezing in some painting after work and whenever I had a few hours on the weekends. The biggest task was creating the detailed jute rope areas – Wullie has some extremely awkward to reach bits, which made things a little trickier. However, once the background colour for the splattered jam area was added, it really began to take shape quickly.”

Director of Hillcrest Enterprises, Stuart Dow added: “Hillcrest Enterprises was officially launched on the 1st of April following the merger of Northern Housing Company with our existing commercial trading subsidiary.”

“Looking to hit the ground running, and with the BIG Bucket Trail taking centre stage across Scotland, sponsoring a statue made perfect sense in helping put Hillcrest Enterprises in the spotlight while also supporting this incredible and worthwhile community art project.”

Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail is Scotland’s first ever national art trail taking place across five host cities – Dundee, Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh until 30th August.

The initiative aims to unite the country as it raises awareness and vital funds for Scotland’s children’s hospitals, including Tayside Children’s Hospital.

For more information on Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail, visit www.oorwullie.com.