Hidden away in the currently unused ‘Kelp store’ - a heritage centre on the remote Orkney island of Papa Westray - 750 miles north of Reading...is mural artist Chris Rutterford.
This is where he has found it easiest to focus on the portraits of Royals fans as the orders come in to be part of our Madejski Stadium mural that will visually celebrate our 150th anniversary.
Chris recently spoke about the piece with ITV Meridian in a special feature on the project. “These portraits are a joyful testimony to the loyal fans who participate. In the front of the mural, for example, there are two grandpas who both recently passed away. Their family asked for tribute portraits and were really touched by the result.
"Doug Wheeler passed last year at 90 and Roy Pearcey made it to 96. True Royals sat in the same stadium for decades, following the clubs highs and lows. They maybe knew each other from the club's Elm Park days and now they are immortalised on the flank of the stand."
Chris has painted dozens of legacy portraits already, all at the heart of the party. But it’s not all about remembrance.
Down at the front there is a little girl, Rosie, pictured at her first Reading game with her dad stood just beside her and next to title-winning manager Brian McDermott. Her mum sent a photo of her on the way to her first game looking cool in her new sunglasses.
“We’ve got families all together, the Stone family for instance - stood near the mascot, they always come to the game in blue jester hats," explained Chris.
“And we painted generations of one family of nine, now spread all round the globe, but we brought them together. The kids sent us photos from Canada whilst the grandparents sent us shots from their back garden in Reading!
"We really are getting the full demographic, which is what I was after; the final crowd to have all the joy and atmosphere of the crowd whilst a fantastic Reading match is in full swing."
This will be a visual masterpiece at the Madejski with hundreds of fans at the very centre of it. It will be a reminder of how important our supporters have been in creating the journey we have enjoyed since 1871 and how vital they will be in shaping our future.
“When I’m doing a mural like this, it’s a big picture. But it’s also about the small picture for me,” Chris said.
“For Reading it’s going to become this landmark for the club, but for each of these individuals it’s a personal landmark.
"I feel I owe it to every single one of them to make them feel good about themselves. It’s a big honour and it’s a big responsibility.”
You can become part of our fabric…literally.
And you can upload your photos and kick start your portrait...NOW! All you need to do is upload a photo.
There’s an instruction video on Chris’ website, to help you take the best photo. Ideally portraits will be painted from photos taken posing outside, as though at the game, or from images taken of you or your family enjoying the game from the stadium or even the photos of fans who have perhaps inspired others to follow the Royals but who may sadly no longer be with us.
Chris and Lubi will help you with the best shot. Just speak to them if you need any guidance.
And the more vibrant and energetic the photo, the better; your image will then come to life and you’ll literally stand out from the crowd when the final mural is in position. So celebrate, cheer, hug, cry with joy and take pride of place amongst your fellow fans.
Next year will be our 150th anniversary and this will be just one of a number of projects we are aiming to run is this Madejski Stadium mural to help bring fans’ second home to life.