A TALENTED artist is bringing creative kids’ ideas to life as he gives a Renfrew underpass a fresh new look.

Steve Blackmore, 32, has teamed up with young minds from the town’s primary schools to paint colourful murals on the walls of the underpass between Fulbar Avenue and Craigielea Road.

The project has been organised by Renfrew YMCA, which received funding from Renfrewshire Council to run workshops with St James, Arkleston, Newmains and Kirklandneauk primaries so each school could work with Steve to create an artwork.

Steve, who is originally from Erskine but now lives in Houston, has completed the first two murals, which portray Renfrew’s history and the struggles many young people face in the age of social media.

“It’s been absolutely great to work on them,” he said. “I’m commission-based, so I always work to clients’ specifications, but it’s been a really cool change to work on kids’ ideas.

“They have such wild imaginations. I’ve never really done workshops before, so that has been a really nice experience.
“My favourite part has been the reaction of the locals. It’s quite a busy spot, so there have been loads of people walking by and complementing the work.
“I think it is really brightening the place up and hopefully it will be nicer to walk through.”
The walls of the underpass had been covered in ugly graffiti for some time and a number of residents contacted Renfrew North and Braehead councillor John Shaw to ask for action to be taken.
He then arranged for better lighting to be installed and proposed the mural project, with the council agreeing to provide funding.
The first artwork, created by children at St James’ Primary, has a mental health theme and shows a young boy on his phone receiving online abuse, with an illustrative troll peeking over his shoulder.
It also encourages people, young and old, to speak up if they are being trolled, with a bold message of ‘just talk’ painted across the width of the wall.
The design for the second mural was created by Arkleston Primary pupils and depicts prominent features of Renfrew, such as the town hall.
Artwork done by children at Newmains Primary is set to be worked on next and will focus on important events in the community, while the Kirklandneuk Primary mural will look at nature.
Samantha Gillan, manager at Renfrew YMCA, said children were given a basic theme and then encouraged to come up with their own ideas for a painting based on it.
She added: “With Arkleston, we went into the school and chatted to the pupils about what they loved about Renfrew and what was important to them.
“We then took them on a walk around the town and they came up with ideas from that.
“With the St James Primary mural, we just went in and asked them about the issues young people face. Social media and getting trolled is a huge thing in their lives. That one gives me a real buzz because I think it speaks to everyone.
“The murals are amazing. We wanted kids to be involved in the concepts but we’ve been able to give Steve pretty free rein to build the artworks. “Councillor Shaw worked really hard to sort out the lighting and secure money from the Local Area Partnership, so we’d like to thank him.”
It is hoped that all four murals will be finished by the end of the first week in August.