An international artist with a huge social media following has created a striking new mural to promote breastfeeding in Inverclyde.
Sam Bates, better known as Smug or Smug0ne on Instagram, is the creative influence behind the artwork which has transformed the gable end of a block of flats on Nicolson Street in Greenock.
The mural was a collaborative project between the Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) Infant Feeding Team and funded by the Scottish Government’s through its ‘Programme for Government’ with support from Oak Tree Housing Association, which owns the building.
The idea is around normalising breastfeeding to encourage more local mums and expectant parents to breastfeed and continue to improve breastfeeding rates.
Catriona MacLean, Inverclyde HSCP health visitor and infant feeding coordinator, said: “The immense health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby make it a public health priority.
“Breastfeeding rates in Inverclyde remain low, however, providing excellent information and support during pregnancy and immediately following birth can smooth the breastfeeding journey.
“Inverclyde has welcomed with open arms the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme with business and facilities continuing to sign up and this beautiful new piece of public art will support a whole area-wide approach to supporting families.”
The HSCP team approached internationally-acclaimed artist Smug, who has already created popular murals in Glasgow and has been commissioned for projects in Australia, after seeing his works on social media platform Instagram where he has almost 250,000 followers.
Smug, who is pictured putting the finishing touches to the mural, said: “Catriona originally reached out to me to pitch the idea and the whole concept behind it is thanks to her.
“She wanted something different so we did some brainstorming and came up with the mythical vibe.
“I’m not pleased until it’s done but I am happy with how it’s looking.”
The mural, which has been created despite four named storms and heavy snowfall in recent weeks, is a tasteful and striking portrayal of a mum feeding her baby to help promote the benefits of breastfeeding.
Councillor Lynne Quinn, Inverclyde’s women’s champion, said: “This incredible artwork will have a positive impact on mums and expectant mums but also the wider community by highlighting that breastfeeding is normal. And what’s more environmentally friendly than breastfeeding?
“I’ve seen first-hand the great work of the local Infant Feeding Team do in our community and they deserve huge credit for coming up with this brilliant idea and securing the services of such an acclaimed artist who has done a magnificent job.”
Councillor Robert Moran, Inverclyde’s health and social care convener, said: “This is a fantastic example of partnership working to highlight the very important issue of how perfectly normal breastfeeding is to not only reassure and encourage any mums and expectant mums out there who have reservations but also to educate the wider general public about breastfeeding.
“Huge credit to our HSCP Infant Feeding Team, Smug and Oak Tree for making this idea a reality and I’m sure this terrific mural will help to encourage many mums and expectant mums out there to think about breastfeeding and seek expert help and advice from our excellent staff to support them to do that.”
The project was made possible thanks to the support of Oak Tree Housing Association who helped identify a suitable, highly-visible building and gave permission to use the side of the block of flats near Greenock Town Centre.
Hazel Aitken, Oak Tree housing manager, said: “Oak Tree Housing Association were delighted to have the opportunity to become involved in this project and play a part in promoting such a positive message in this unique way.
“There has always been strong partnership working between the association and HSCP and we were happy to help.”
The project was also supported by a neighbouring store, The Range, which sectioned off parking spaces to allow the artist to work and provided some materials and space to store them.
The Inverclyde Infant Feeding Team hold a drop-in support group at The Waterwheel restaurant in Port Glasgow every Tuesday from 11:00 – 12.30 where all expectant and breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding families are welcome.