Portobello Banksy adds seagull art along promenade

Elliott Finlayson, six, takes a closer look at one of the paper seagulls attached to a bin. Picture: Cate Gillon

Elliott Finlayson, six, takes a closer look at one of the paper seagulls attached to a bin. Picture: Cate Gillon

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Seagulls aren’t exactly a rare sight around Portobello, but some recent arrivals are standing out from the crowd.

A mystery artist has been brightening up the promenade by creating their own versions of our feathered friends out of paper and tape, and attaching them to lampposts and bins.

So far organisations and officials in the area are stumped as to who in the crafty community could be responsible for the avian art.

Damian Killeen OBE, chairman of Big Things on the Beach, the town’s public art festival, said the organisation had no idea who the creator could be.

He said: “Portobello is a creative community and a perfect place for artistic activities. So it’s full of surprises like this - people sharing the joy of life through art.”

John Stewart, chair of the Portobello Community Council, said: “Portobello has lots of local artists but I’d have no idea who this was. It’s a place with a lot of character and a really strong local identity, and it’s nice that people feel they can express that individuality in such a positive way.”

Businesses along the promenade, where the bulk of the striking seagulls have appeared, have welcomed the new editions to the area.

Nathan Davis, manager of The Beach House cafe, said: “There’s one right outside the cafe and people coming in have been telling me they’re seeing them all over the place. I like them, I think they’re really cool.”

Terry Magill, the owner of the Dalriada bar, said: “I’m really not surprised by something like this emerging as there are so many creative people and artists round here.”

Mike Bridgman, SNP councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, said: “I don’t know who is doing this, but it’s obviously giving pleasure to the people, so long may it continue.”

It’s not the first time a mystery artist has targeted the town.

In May 2010, an anonymous artist added his own planks to the fence bordering the promenade. Letters cut into them meant that on a sunny day the phrase “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” would be cast on to the walkway. However, despite many residents stopping to enjoy the effect of the boards, within 24 hours one of the planks had disappeared.

The artist behind a series of intricate paper sculptures left around the Capital last year is also yet to be unmasked, but as they are known to be female it’s unlikely to be the same person as the false-bearded plank artist.

The mysterious sculptor, who is now the subject of a book, peppered the literary landscape of the city with her creations, beginning with the Scottish Poetry Library last March. The “PoeTree” sculpture consisted of a tree growing out of a paperback book.

Nine more pieces appeared between then and August in the National Library of Scotland, the Filmhouse, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, two at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Central Library, again at the Scottish Poetry Library and finally at the National Museum of Scotland.

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