Artist: Kitchimama (Rhiannon Moore)
The Oor Wullie Bucket Trail was an amazing event in Dundee that brought artists and the community together. Ultimately over £883,000 was raised at auction for the children’s charity: The Archie Foundation. In the end 70 Oor Wullie statues were designed and decorated for the trail, a particularly iconic one was the Oor Bowie placed at Dundee waterfront and painted by illustrator Rhiannon Moore (known as Kitchimama).
Rhiannon originally from Bath, studied Illustration at Brighton University in England. She moved to Scotland with her then partner not long after completing her Degree nearly twenty years ago and as well as having a shop/studio, trained as a tattoo artist in Kirriemuir. After being settled for some time she packed up her belongings, sold her house and went travelling around Europe. Upon her return she lived at various locations along the UK’s South coast during which time she studied iconography at West Dean College. Three years ago she felt pulled back to Dundee so that her children could be near to their relatives and be more rooted. Despite her great attachment to the land she would describe herself as a wandering spirit and is currently studying to become a Shamanic Practitioner alongside creating her illustrations.
Interestingly Rhiannon originally didn’t choose Bowie to base her Oor Wullie on. Her illustrations are principally inspired by nature, and she had taken her initial concept from the salmon ladder at the Hermitage. She described her vision of the salmon swimming up the legs of Oor Wullie culminating with moths over his eyes. However that design was not selected by a sponsor which was one of the requirements for proceeding. She was then approached by the Artist co-ordinator Suzanne Scott (WhimSicAL LusH) who she had met at a previous networking event. Having a knowledge of her work Suzanne asked if she would collaborate on the Oor Bowie. The idea of an Oor Bowie was that of Martin Lindsay licensing manager at DC Thompson, the design came from John Hunter Barrie, graphic designer at DC Thompson. Rhiannon combined the concept and design together and painted Oor Bowie.
Rhiannon was only given 10 days to complete Bowie, a challenging time schedule due to the scale of him. DC Thompson offered up space in their studio for the artists to complete their Wullie’s but due to childcare commitments Oor Bowie was lovingly created in Rhiannon’s kitchen. Although she collaborated with John and Martin, she never actually met them until after Bowie was completed. With a rough design to go from, based on one of David Bowies outfits, Rhiannon went about painting the statue. In her own practice Rhiannon makes her own paints using Egg tempera – a technique where the raw pigment is combined with egg yolk using a traditional pestle and mortar. Yet for Bowie acrylic paints were used, as prescribed for practicality from the commission.
Although the design supplied gave a strong idea of the overall look for the finished Bowie, Rhiannon described the challenge of working out the pattern on his outfit. She studied YouTube clips of David Bowies performance on Top of the Pops to get an idea of the exact design however the more she looked into the detail, the more detail she found. Rhiannon simplified the pattern to make it work on Oor Bowie, she described the relief after Bowie was approved when revealed for the first time to the two other designers at the unveiling.
Rhiannon, as did many other people within the community, loved the Bucket Trail. The Trail really connected with the people of Dundee, and with Oor Wullie being a part of the City’s heritage. What Rhiannon particularly loved was seeing children getting involved and interacting with the Oor Wullie’s, and that as a result of the trail so much money was raised for the children’s charity. The auction itself was really busy and had a great atmosphere, Rhiannon described it as fab but also said how it felt really nerve wracking watching the Wullie’s sell, partly because it was so long, and Oor Bowie was auctioned off near the end. Amazingly Oor Bowie made £19K and was bought by the Euro millions jackpot winner who lives in Carnoustie. She bought a total of 5 Oor Wullies at the Auction, spending over £100,000 the exact whereabouts of Bowie has only recently been discovered in the Gillies Christmas window in Broughty Ferry.
When asked which was her favourite Oor Wullie, Rhiannon choose two; one for the endearing background story behind it, and the other as one she would happily have in her house. The first is Oor Wullie Noo, designed by Alison Price. Alison painted Wullie at 80 years old, as he would look if he had aged from creation. The artist went to care homes and used elderly people as her models, what makes this story great is that he has come full circle, Oor Wullie Noo is now travelling back around care homes.
The second would be Oor Rabbie, The Bard and The Bucket, designed by Susan McGill, this reminded Rhiannon of her tattoo artist roots as she loved the detail of the tattoos on Wullie’s hands.
Rhiannon is very excited about the V&A coming to Dundee, she feels like the city is changing and has got a great arty scene going on. She commented on the cities changing reputation, remarking on how it used to be an undesirable location but now is becoming a cosmopolitan and interconnected city. Within the last 20 years she has noticed a shift in the city and certainly within the last 5 years it suddenly dawned on her that she loves Dundee, she commented on her love for the River Tay and the way the light catches and it sparkles. Rhiannon finds it fascinating to watch the city change and develop, she feels the V&A will be the cherry on the cake for this little city of discovery.
Rhiannon Moore interview