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Case Studies > The Art of Business

Kelburn Castle and Estate

Case Study The Art of Business Kelburn Castle and Estate
Case Study The Art of Business By David Boyle’s own admission, his family has tried its hand at multiple schemes to make Kelburn Castle and Estate attractive to visitors. But nothing has put the venue on the map quite like a lick of paint.

It was no ordinary paint job, however. When David, current Viscount Kelburn, and his sister Alice were brainstorming ideas about cultural activities at the estate near Largs in North Ayrshire, they hit on the idea of inviting a team of Brazilian graffiti artists to paint the entire south façade of the castle’s two oldest towers.

David and Alice worked with four artists from Sao Paulo, who came to Kelburn to work and live for a month in 2007 to complete the project. It’s now Scotland’s most colourful – and perhaps controversial – castle.

The artwork at Kelburn was part of the Boyle family’s continued focus on diversifying activities on the estate in order to bring in new revenue streams.

The starting point was when David’s father, the present 10th Earl of Glasgow, and his wife, Isabel, started Kelburn Country Centre in 1977. That opened most of Kelburn’s grounds and gardens to the public and introduced new attractions, which have been added to and expanded over the years, with horse riding, mountain biking and other cultural events.

“The main focus for my dad at that time was to open up the estate to the public,” said David. “It was clear to him that continuing to run Kelburn in a traditional way wasn’t sustainable, because being in North Ayrshire we don’t have particularly arable land. But what we do have are a lot of beautiful hills and waterfalls and moorland, so at that time he developed the Country Centre as a means of trying to support the place through that form of tourism. Now I’m trying to push things in a more cultural and artistic direction.”

As part of that input, as Kelburn’s Commercial Manager, David has developed regular music festivals and is looking at setting up an arts trail and even a music studio. To him, it’s part of making sure you are engaged in activities that you yourself are passionate about.

“I think you really need to be determined about what it is you want to do,” he said. “As an estate owner, if you are only half committed, then I’m sure you’ll be thinking about other more lucrative or easier ways of making a living. But if you’re involved in doing something you feel passionate about then it’s very rewarding. You just can’t afford to stay static, because the world keeps changing so fast. You always have to be looking for other avenues of income or other opportunities.”
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