Published: 26th OCTOBER 2023

Young Creators transform National Cycle Network routes in Scotland with exciting public artworks

Throughout November 2023, a remarkable series of temporary outdoor artworks created by young people will be unveiled along the National Cycle Network in Scotland.

A young artist kneels on the floor and works with materials to create an artwork.

The Shapechangers project is helping young artists to shape the spaces around us and reimagine where we live. Photo credit: Rig Arts

‘ShapeChangers’ aims to empower young people and inspire residents of Glasgow, Alloa, Greenock and Inverness to explore their local areas by walking, wheeling, and cycling on the National Cycle Network.

Sustrans has collaborated with four dynamic organisations to bring this vision to life: 

  • RIG Arts in Greenock 
  • Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in Glasgow 
  • Highland Print Studio in Inverness  
  • Reachout With Arts In Mind in Alloa.   

The featured artworks encompass a wide range of forms, from textiles to ceramics and performance to printmaking.


Greenock: RIG Arts unveils recycled creations

The programme kicks off with RIG Arts in Greenock unveiling three temporary artworks assembled using recycled materials. 

The art created by young people will be displayed on National Cycle Network Route 75 at Greenock's East India Harbour from Saturday, 28 October, 2023, until November 19, 2023.   

The works are inspired by the local history of nearby mills and the transition to greener transport systems.

They explore how people are becoming more aware of the environment around them with a shift to active travel. 

Maya Rose Edwards, Lead Artist at RIG Arts, explained:

‘It’s been wonderful to be a part of the ShapeChangers project, witnessing young artists find their voice and break free of the limitations of mainstream education.

“Teaching them about social engagement, site-specific art, and navigating public spaces has been a pleasure. 

“The chance to offer paid work experience in the creative industries is rare and would have been invaluable in my own development.

“Fostering opportunities and instilling best practices in young people before they venture into the world is a fantastic opportunity.    

"There have been new challenges and responsibilities in the commission that the young artists haven't encountered before.

“I'm proud that, with my support, they've fearlessly overcome these challenges." 

Location: National Cycle Network Route 75, East India Harbour, Greenock

Artwork on show: 28 October - 19 November 2023 

Artists: Alex Cushnaghan, Ruby Rose Elliot, Iona McKnight 

Young artists at work in Greenock. Photo credit: Rig Arts

Glasgow: Birds of Paradise Theatre Company -  People Are Hope 

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company worked with three young artists to produce a film that explores stories of community change and envisions what the future might look like.

The film records their performance, mixing in interviews with disabled activists from as far back as the 1890s and looking ahead to the years 2030-2060. It asks people what kind of world they want to create. 

Fully powered by bike, a screening was held for the public on 21 November on National Cycle Network Route 756. 

Morna McGeoch Fergus Arnott, Development Officer at Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, said:

“The group had a great time learning about the history of disability activism and travel.

“Some in the group got really excited about diving deeper into these topics, and others found a renewed love for active travel thanks to the project." 


People Are Hope: A film created on National Cycle Network Route 756 by young people in Glasgow and Birds of Paradise Theatre Company.

Inverness: Artwork by Highland Print Studio and Inverness High School

Highland Print Studio has worked with students from Inverness High School to produce Reflections of Inverness, an artwork that examines Inverness's built environment, its people, and community use, along with desires for improvement.

Before creating the artworks, they engaged with the local community group Spokes for Folks, an organisation providing cycling experiences for seniors and those with support needs.  

The resulting artwork will feature a combination of painted and printed images inspired by Inverness's memories, its structures, and its people.  

John McNaught, Studio Manager of Highland Print Studio, explained:

We were thrilled to commission three students from Inverness High School through the Shapechangers project to craft public artwork for the National Cycle Network.  

“This art, set to grace Inverness High Street, has provided these students with a chance to explore diverse printmaking methods.

“Their artworks will feature linocut and screen printing on wooden panels, creating modular screens lining the street.  

“This project has been an invaluable learning journey, offering lessons in community involvement, art techniques, materials, and budgeting. It has also shed light on the impact of sustainable transport and Sustrans' work." 

Location: National Cycle Network Route 1, Inverness, outside Eastgate Shopping Centre 

Artwork on show: 18 November - 24 November 2023 

Artists: Berri Bryla, Calin Donaldson, Lucy Horsburgh 


Young people in Inverness have been part of the Shapechangers project. Photo credit: Ewen Weatherspoon

Alloa: Ceramic creations by Reachout With Arts In Mind

Created by four talented young artists from Alloa Academy, the project showcases ceramic art inspired by the natural beauty and architectural history of the area. 

The artists use clay to bring to life elements of local heritage and wildlife, drawing inspiration from stags, birds, intricate textures, and the essence of Alloa's architecture. 

Lesley Arthur, Executive Artistic Director at Reachout With Arts In Mind, said:

“We are ecstatic to be empowering local young minds through this public art commission along Alloa’s cycle paths.

“This project will not only beautify our community but also foster a profound sense of ownership and creativity, forging a brighter path towards a vibrant, inclusive future." 

Location: National Cycle Network Route 76, Alloa, near Alloa Tower 

Launch Event:  22 November 2023, 3:30 pm - 6 pm 

Artwork on show: 22 November - 10 December 2023 

Artists: Harrison Barnes, Isobel Conlan, Meja Paulauskaite, Olivia Ritchie 

Ceramic creations by Reachout With Arts in Mind, Alloa. Photo credit: Reachout With Arts in Mind

 What is Shapechangers? 

Shapechangers is supported by funding from the Scottish Government and administered through Sustrans Scotland’s Art and Diversity programme. 

Bruce Phillips, Network Engagement Coordinator at Sustrans explained:  

“ShapeChangers is all about helping young creative people change the way we experience outdoor spaces.

“It's exciting to see these students take on the task of temporarily transforming their local travel routes on the National Cycle Network.  

“Young people are the future, and it is vital that they can help shape the places they live.

“We hope this will encourage more young people to discover and use their local routes on the National Cycle Network.

“Travelling independently is a great way to help improve young people’s mental and physical health.”  

Shapechangers is the latest in a series of annual projects which support community groups in creating artworks which encourage more people to explore their area by walking, wheeling and cycling on the National Cycle Network.  

In 2021, temporary artworks and events were created for Black History Month.

And in 2022, there was a focus on Disability History Month, resulting in a mix of permanent sculptures and other temporary art.


Explore the National Cycle Network and find your nearest route.

Discover more artworks on the National Cycle Network.

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