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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Ghost Village Project


Check out this short film, a gaggle of graff and street artists who travelled to a Scottish village allegedly built for oil platform construction workers that has been abandoned by all humanity and turned it into an art gallery.


Relatively unknown until recently, when it featured in the media with news of its forthcoming demolition and residential redevelopment, the village of Polphail was created during the 1970s to serve as accommodation for workers employed ont a concrete oil platform construction project to be based at Portavadie.

Despite millions of pounds of government money being poured into the development, both its concept and product were deeply flawed, having been rushed in order to cash in on the oil boom of the the time. The construction yard was never completed and never came close to production. The accommodation was never occupied and never saw a single resident. It did leave behind a hole, which we have seen referred to as the “biggest man-made hole in Europe” (but we haven’t been able to verify this one). The site was abandoned and has lain derelict ever since, and became the subject of a public enquiry.

Portavadie currently serves as the terminal for a CalMac ferry connecting with Tarbert, across Loch Fyne, and has seen a fish farm developed in the multi-million pound hole that was created where the concrete platform legs were supposed to be constructed. A marina opened in the mid-2000s, and a brand new facilities building opened there in May 2009, containing toilets, showers, bar and restaurant. Although there have been a number of proposals to develop time-shares on the Polphail site, none of these ever materialised, but a few holiday cottages have been built nearby.

However, progress was made in 2009, when a plan to create up to 270 home on the site was announced by the owner, and demolition of the original Polphail accommodation was scheduled to begin in following December.

Thanks to media coverage of the development, the site came to the attention of a group of artist known as The Agents of Change. Although they are graffiti artists, this in not a group kids running around with cans of spray paint vandalising the streets and tagging any clean surface, but are well-established artist, and in their forties. Having seen the derelict village in the news, they got in touch with the owner requesting permission to carry out a project in the village, and were pleased to receive a positive response to their enquiry, provided they were prepared to pay homage at hallowed altars such as Elfin Safety.

The arrival of the six artists involved was generally well met an appreciated by most of those who live near the village, who said the artwork made a welcome change from their usual view of the drab grey concrete of the decaying ruins which they have had to look at for some forty years.