A couple of weeks ago I organised a short project for our Illustration and Graphic Design master students and some staff at ECA themed around Edinburgh’s river, the Water of Leith. First we went down to the visitor centre where a member of staff gave us an overview of the river’s history and the work carried out by the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. We learned that the 24 mile long river once played a significant part in Edinburgh’s industrial history as it used to be the host to over 70 mills harnessing the power of the water to produce paper, fabric, and flour amongst other things. Today it is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals from wild garlic and orchids to brown trout, heron, kingfisher and otter.
After our introduction we set out to walk to one of the Modern Art Galleries and to do observational drawings along the way, which would provide a basis for making repeat surface patterns once back in the studio. Many students were inspired by certain plants, the allotments along the way, industrial elements or the water itself. I personally find it most wonderful to be able to walk along this river which almost secretly winds its way through Edinburgh and makes you pop out at good destinations such as the Galleries of Modern Art. And it certainly felt great to leave the studio on a sunny day and to get a breath of fresh air!
I drew a mix of things including plants, washing that was hung out to dry and exhibits from the Gallery of Modern Art. Back in the studio I decided to focus on dandelion and the folklore surrounding this plant. The dandelions integrated into my pattern have finished flowering and are about to mature into seed heads. Then they may get blown over the landscape by the wind or perhaps by someone who picks them and blows them off in the hope that a wish may come true.
The results of this project can be seen at the Water of Leith visitor centre until mid July, so why not combine a walk in nature with a cup of coffee and some art at the Water of Leith visitor centre?
Here are some images of the great work of our students and of my collegues Jonathan Gibbs, Lucy Roscoe and Sorcha Fitzgerald (Artist in Residence). The students involved are Rebecca Willmott, Rebecca Brown, Pat Hughes, Leilei Huang, Sarah Bissell, Norridzuan Rasid, Andrea Campomanes and Brook Piche.