Making Apples from Guns

Orchard Sign Swords to ploughshares, but now we may have to think of from guns to apples.  Comrie Community Orchard is a great example of the imaginative reuse of a heritage site.  The remains of an assault course and firing range have been incorporated into the plans for the future.

Obstacles for Growth

Obstacles are being used to train fruit trees.

Assault CourseCompost bins are situated along the side of the firing range.

Compost Bins

And a wonderful wooden Shepherd’s Hut has been made by a local crafts person and situated in the growing orchard.

The Shepherd's Hut

I love the mix of the reuse of the old with new introductions such as The Shepherd’s Hut.  As the orchard matures this will become a distinctive and peaceful place.  Even better in due course, for those who help tend the orchard, it will provide food to sustain and share….


Comrie Community Orchard is located at Cultybraggan Camp, Perthshire, which was subject to a community buy out in 2007 through Comrie Development Trust (CDT).  Watch out for another post about the other elements of Cultybraggan Camp in the next few weeks. 

Walled Garden – The Bothy Project

The Bothy Project is transforming a stalled space in Glasgow: the site of a Glasgow City Council Cleansing Department building.  I first stumbled across the space three years ago and had not been passed it since.

Stalled SpaceReturning from The Whisky Bond (the red brick building partially seen in the distance), I was drawn to the space again by the presence of a newly painted wall.

Walled Garden (Painted)Stalled to Walled GardenA shipping container is being converted into a studio space for artist residencies, with exhibitions in the walled garden. I really look forward to seeing what else happens in this newly emerging place (they were building a great looking pizza oven today !).  It already looks like its going to become a great example of how a stalled space can become a creative hub.

Glasgow’s Schools of Art

Glasgow School of Art (GSA), is world renowned as a center of creativity, synonymous with the striking Mackintosh building at the heart of its campus.

Glasgow School of ArtI only recently discovered, through a commemorative sign elsewhere in the city, that GSA had previously been located at two other places before it was housed in the Mackintosh building.  The previous buildings would have undoubtedly been architecturally very different, in style and arrangement of space, from the Mackintosh building.

GSA pre-Mackintosh signageThere is further change for Glasgow School of Art, with another striking building currently emerging close to the Mackintosh building.

Glasgow School of Art - FutureThe new campus building is in striking contrast to the Art Nouveau style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  It is designed by Steven Holl Architects who explain the relationship to past on the site, including a drumlin (a post glacial geo-morphological mound upon which the buildings sit), and in their design of the new building.  They also reflect on the future, considering the:

potential to transform the GSA’s presence in the city to a 21st century vibrant, cutting-edge art school that simultaneously values continuity with history.’

Further information, including a webcam showing the construction works, can be found at the GSA Campus Redevelopment website.  It will be interesting to see how well this ‘complementary contrast’ of styles works when completed.

GSA, tangled in an historical web of different places, buildings and styles…and looking to the future.

Art, Archaeology and Incavation

A great example of creative participatory place making is Odd Numbers – Making Myths and Milton. 

Wee Creatures

It is an ongoing public art work which has involved artist Nicola Atkinson (with Lee Ivett/Baxdendale and Love Milton Project) working with Milton, a relatively new community that does not have such a deep history as other parts of Glasgow.

One key aspect of the project has been the production of 365 clay animal figurines (wee creatures), whom members of the community have been caring for over the Christmas holiday break.  The wee creatures have just been returned to the artist and are currently on display with a wealth of other materials produced by the community, which begins a process of creating a mythical history of people and place.  There is further information about the project online, where the artist explains the philosophy of the project in more detail, but one aspect worth highlighting is the response to the relative ahistorical nature of place:

It is a provocation to create a new and alternate history and mythology that through participation will connect people with place.

Furthermore, it is striking to read that the artist is well aware of the potency of archaeological practices in contributing to creating both peoples sense of identity and place making.  The wee creatures will be purposely buried (an incavation) at Milton, creating at once an art work, archaeological site and special place for the community. The public art work Odd Numbers – Making Myths and Milton has been funded by AHRC (Connected Communities) and the University of West of Scotland.  You can see the wee creatures, and the community documentation of the emerging history of the place, for the next week at All That Is Solid, WASPS South Block: well worth having a look at.

Finally, seeing this public art work also reminded me of a strand in archaeological practice which emerged about ten years ago which involved reflection on the inter-relationships between art and archaeology.  More specifically, it reminded me of an incavation project undertaken by Cornelius Holtorf in Berlin.  This comprised the incavation of the remains of a shared meal, which subsequently became the subject of an exhibition.

Further information about Cornelius Holtorf’s archaeological incavation can be found at the project website and in the published article:

Holtorf, C J 2004 ‘Incavation-Excavation-Exhibition’ in Brodie, N & Hills, C (eds) Material Engagements: studies in honour of Colin Renfrew. MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge.

Transforming a Place

Walking through a familiar place in Edinburgh, and crossing a busy noisy junction with cars and buses hurtling past, I spotted signs on a building which I had never noticed before…!

One of the signs on the right side of the building says Guse Dub.  It refers to when there was a Goose Pond at this location in 1715, which was mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in an account of his child hood memories.

I paused and realised there was another sign, Transforming a Place, on the left side of the building.  It relates to a project from 2007-2009, as part of the Six Cities Design Festival.  One element of the design festival was a place making process for this location, with a series of design workshops which explored the history of the site and its potential future uses and appearance.  The sign has been set up by The Causey Development Trust who are trying to reclaim from the traffic this small urban historic space in Edinburgh for the people: Transforming a Place.

It will be interesting to see if the work of The Causey Development Trust transforms this place for people as opposed to cars….!