Opinion: Janet Christie - There’s an art to enjoying the outdoors

There’s an art to enjoying the outdoors

Legal graffiti walls are a creative use of temporary wasteground in urban spaces
Legal graffiti walls are a creative use of temporary wasteground in urban spaces

With the days shortening, covid cases rising and new restrictions kicking in it feels like we’re being sewn into our underwear for the winter. (A quick Google reveals this to be a true part of Scotland’s lingerie legacy, among other stuff I’d rather not have seen. Children and adults bound into their breeks till spring, with only a flap for convenience.)

But being told to stay in only makes me want to get out more, to travel, roam, bogle aboot. I love a good box set, but my eyes are red raw from the 24/7 screens - think spiral hypnotising spectacles - and the only thing that’s calming them is not looking at one.

So outdoors – green things, trees, grass, sky and the like beckon and I head off for a walk round my neighbourhood for a screen break. Everything’s lovely, the birds, the trees, the autumn leaves, the loaf of pricey but nicey artisan bread from the bakery on the industrial estate, the sea, the ships, the huge self-portrait of Middle Child graffitied on the wall in retina searing tones in front of me…

Urban artwork on one of Edinburgh's legal graffiti walls

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Unmistakeable. The image speaks to me of a troubled mind, and even more troubled dentistry. I wouldn’t mind but there were years of braces and trips to the orthodontists devoted to that child and his siblings. Oh god.

“Is this you?” I text him immediately with a photo of the muriel...

“Yeah! It was me.”

“It’s awesome, but...”

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“Don’t stress ma, it’s a legal wall.”

“Oh, good." To be honest, it was the teeth that were bothering me most.

It’s a lovely self-portrait, and you’ve definitely captured a likeness, but...”

“Aw thanks ma. Gotta go. At work. Love you… Hang on, I did paint it, but it’s not a SELF-portrait. It’s just what came out when I started painting. It’s OBVIOUSLY a surreal, cartoon figure, wild and crazy.”

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“Oh. Sorry.”

He’s still on the line. Awkward. “Is that really how you see me?”

The vivid clashing colours expressing a mind firing on all cylinders, the eyes bloodshot with exhilaration, the hair wild and unkempt…

“Er no, course not. Gotta go. Love you.”

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