BBC News

Art attack: How idea for Belladrum's 50ft woman grew

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter


The Highland's Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival uses art to draw revellers to the event. Here festival organiser Joe Gibbs and artist Emily Fraser explain the thinking behind this year's new-look design featuring a giant woman.

image copyrightPAul Campbell

Dubbed Bella by its fans, the festival at Beauly's Belladrum Estate, in the Highlands near Inverness, is to be held for the 11th time this August. The acts performing will include Sir Tom Jones, Razorlight, Billy Bragg and Frightened Rabbit.

image copyrightPaul Campbell

For most of the past 10 years, artist Michael Forbes, whose fans include Ricky Gervais and Terry Gilliam, has worked with Joe and festival marketing manager Kris Reid on the artwork for posters and website. For 2014's event, ideas were invited from designers on the theme of "wild life".

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Emily Fraser, an illustrator and graphic/digital designer from Inverness, and illustrator/animator Alex Ashman, from Orkney, won the tender with an animal-themed design. Both are based in Edinburgh and have worked on previous projects.

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Emily said: "Our initial thoughts were to create an atmosphere akin to the feeling of going to the festival, arriving through the forests and approaching the buzz of the festival." She added: "We developed animals and scenery with a glowing sunset and warm colours to reflect the welcoming nature of the festival. We were delighted when our submission won us the competition."

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Joe said: "We chose to work with Emily and Alex because we liked their approach and design. Then we introduced the concept of the 50ft woman."

image copyrightRex Features

Bella's team had already been working on adapting 1950s advertising and B movie styling to promote the festival. The idea for Bella's giant came from 1958's science-fiction film, Attack of the 50ft Woman, starring Allison Hayes as a cheated wife who hunts down her husband after she is super-sized by aliens.

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Emily said: "After a couple of discussions with Joe and Kris we decided we wanted to merge the style of 50s movie poster design, used in previous Belladrum marketing, with the wildlife theme to create an eclectic blend of wildlife, people and nature."

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Emily added: "We wanted to take the theme of wildlife which is indicative of the festival's eccentric and unpredictable nature and present it in a stylised and visually arresting manner." The look of Belladrum's 50ft woman was completed with a Scottish wildcat mask.

image copyrightBelladrum handout

Joe and Kris, along with Bella's John Keiller and James Roberts, translated the results of Emily and Alex's work for the festival website, its posters, social media sites and advertising. Another of Bella's team, Paul Graham, also refreshed the event's logo for 2014.