Mayfield Haiku

Mayfield Haiku Collaborative artworks by Midlothian Artist in Residence Susan T Grant and residents of Mayfield & Easthouses, created as part of the two year pArtners reside residency, funded by Creative Scotland and Coalfields Regeneration Trust and supported by Midlothian Council and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Launching this weekend, details here. Preview the book online.

Mayfield Haiku is a series of fourteen poems and photographs of sculptural interventions created by local residents at Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust. A limited edition book of the works, prefaced with an essay by poet Ken Cockburn, has been published to accompany an exhibition of the artworks in local shops and a rolling programme of billboard posters, displayed in Mayfield Square advertising hoardings 29th October 2012 – 10th February 2013.

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IPod X-Ray

IPod X-Ray Large scale photographic artworks created by local young people and on permanent display at Y2K youth project. Created with Midlothian Artist in Residence Susan T Grant and residents of Mayfield & Easthouses, as part of the two year pArtners reside residency, funded by Creative Scotland and Y2K and supported by Midlothian Council and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Launching this weekend, details here.

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Mayfield Haiku & IPod X-Ray: Collaborative artworks launch

Before my tantalising last 5 Top Ten choices, an invite to the first of the Reside art launch events! Next Saturday 10th November as below, or preview and purchase the book online here… A worthy Christmas Gift for any loved one 😉

Collaborative artworks by Midlothian Artist in Residence Susan T Grant and residents of Mayfield & Easthouses…

Billboard posters, limited edition book and photographic artworks launching

3pm

Saturday 10th November 2012

Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust, 12 Bogwood Court, Mayfield, EH22 5DG. Followed by refreshments at Y2K, the Manse, EH22 5DY

All welcome

Preview and purchase the book here: http://www.blurb.co.uk/bookstore/detail/3677653

Mayfield Haiku: A series of haiku poems and photographic artworks of sculptural interventions, created in Mayfield by members of Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust art group. A limited edition book of the works, prefaced with an essay by poet Ken Cockburn, will be launched alongside a display of the artworks in Bogwood shops and a rolling programme of billboard posters, exhibited in Mayfield Square 29th October 2012 – 10th February 2013. Funded by Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

IPod X-Ray: Large scale photographic artworks created by local young people and on permanent display at Y2K youth project.

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PLAY: Treehouse

On the subject of treehouses, one of my very favourite structures is this small but perfectly formed structure tucked away behind the West Church of Charles Taylor Woodwork. Easily missed, I spotted it one day by chance. The shape of a boat, it sails amongst the lower branches; a beautiful structure and really quirky thing. And quirky should very definitely be celebrated.

Charles built it himself with his children: “The children are 12 and 14 now so it’s not much used nowadays, but the fun was in the process of building it, rather than the end result. It has to be very high up because I wanted to disuade people from using it – I made a rope ladder which hangs down from the back in the manner of a fishing net. The shape evolved around the structural opportunity the tree gave us – it just became obvious.

One of the best stories I heard was that there was a little child in the public car park at the back saying to his mother, “Mum, mum there’s a boat in the tree!” and the mother said, “Don’t be stupid.” But of course the boy was right. And then I had a minister who came up to me one day saying very drolly that I was obviously planning for the next flood.”

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COMMUNITY: Bilston Glen Treehouses – Summer Winter

Some of the most interesting examples of Midlothian architecture and community are found at the Bilston Glen Treehouses. Originally a protest site, started in 2002 in reaction to a planned re-routing of the A701, it is now an ever-evolving activist community with visitors coming from all over the world.

People come for a variety of reasons – all are welcome as long as they contribute towards the community in some way through house maintenance, communal cooking or tending the vegetable plot. There is a small group of permanent residents who have the right to the best houses, with the ones situated high in the trees used mainly by visitors. While some of the houses are just basic shelters, others have been lovingly designed – recycled crafted structures with heating, carpets and bookcases. The higher houses are lashed to the trees using bicycle inner tubes and ropes, allowing the trees to move, and are taken down every couple of years to avoid damage.

I’ve always been fascinated by ‘self-built’ communities – those purposely created rather than those that organically evolve. Stereotyped by the hippy commune in recent decades, there is a wide range of examples – indeed often bound by common idealogy – the eco-village; the co-op; the Christian community. How humans organise themselves and design communal architecture to live together harmoniously is fascinating. Nowadays most of us live in urban environments with varying degrees of contact with our neighbours. Whatever your politics, settlements like Bilston help you reflect on how you would design your ideal community.

See further images of Bilston in Winter Spring Summer slideshow below and www.bilstonglen-abs.org.uk and here for more info on Bilston Glen. Email me at midlothian@susantgrant.co.uk if you’d like to tell me about your Midlothian community, whatever its shape or size.

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SHELTER: The council house

In this age of tensions between deficit reductions, benefit cuts and housing crisis, the value of our welfare state this last century is brought into focus. In a global context, is there anything more humane and charitable than a system that, at base line, distributes wealth to shelter the low waged and the disadvantaged?

Clichés now, but it really wasn’t so very long ago that everyone was sharing outside toilets and sleeping five to a bed. Recent conversations I’ve had with Dalkeith residents tell of overcrowded, low quality housing that was a joy to escape. My own grandparents, like many, took the classic twentieth century domestic journey from a crowded tenement flat to their own wee post-war prefab, to over 30 years of home comforts in a 2-bedroomed council flat (which I can confirm enjoyed some blindingly patterned furnishings over the years).

Local authorities were required by law to provide council housing after 1919 and Lloyd George’s “Homes fit for Heroes” campaign, sparked by concerns over the poor physical condition of army recruits. But it was not until after World War II that the age of the council house arrived.

A 1930s social housing guide that I shouldn’t enjoy reading, has a recommended ratio for the optimum number of residential properties to associated community halls. By the 1950s and 60s pure demand meant this ratio was blown out of the water, as were the housing space and building standards. I love the leveling repetition of all planned housing schemes and the simplicity of Corporation design, but do grieve the lack of planned public space in this era.

Midlothian has its fair share of such post-war housing, but has been unusual amongst Scottish local authorities in building new stock in recent times. Here’s to the humble council house. And the community centres that can sit alongside them.

See a full history of council housing: http://fet.uwe.ac.uk/conweb/house_ages/council_housing/section1.htm

Photogram artwork by Susan T Grant

   

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HOME: Marchwell

Marchwell House, Silverburn

Designed by Morris and Steedman architects, famous in the 1950s and 60s for designing a range of Modernist buildings, especially domestic properties. They designed some of the most radical architecture in Scotland during this post-war period. Their second commissioned house has featured in this project already – Wilson House, Lasswade – but my favourite is Marchwell, Silverburn, in the foothills of the Pentlands.

Built in 1964, it’s created in the form of a “white-walled spiral”* that is integrated with the garden wall, leaving the front door as the only exit point. The curved glazed colonnade acts like a sundial as light moves around the south facing building.

Sited with a main road close by, the original owners had young children so shelter was important. Standing alone on an open hillside, the design echoes traditional circular sheep shelters found across Britain. That’s the ideal it represents to me – a C20th minimalist shelter; crafted domestic insulation from the modern world.

Which is great until you fancy a chat / need to borrow a cup of sugar from the next door neighbours.

* To find out more, go to Historic Scotland feature: http://www.msastudio.co.uk/M&SFEATURE_30_1_07.pdf

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