Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We interrupt this blog to urge you to go to www.eh8.org.uk and check out the info about protesting about the redevelopment of the Canongate part of the High St in Edinburgh. Large swathes of buildings will be demolished (listed buildings) and will be replaced by hideous modern buildings.

I've been thinking about the High St a lot recently. There have been really quite successful redevelopments of the High St in the past including Ramsay Gardens which was an appalling slum until Sir Patrick Geddes persuaded some businessmen at the end of the 19th Century to redevelop it. If is of course now a major landmark in Edinburgh and we couldn't think of the skyline without it. However - Ramsay Gardens in beautifully built with incredible craftsmanship and expense inside and out. What we are being promised is something with a skim on the outside which will look hideous in probably 5 years.

Similarly I was in the Portrait Gallery in Queen St in a part I don't normally go to for work last week. As I was being drawn I had to sit still for 2 hours and only had the building to look at. I had all that time to appreciate the craftsmanship. The carving on the pillars and the gold leaf applied to the stonework. I don't know how long it took to create the Portrait Gallery or what it cost but over 100 years later it is still stunning and still in use.

Then I got given a watering can by my mother. My last watering can sprung a leak a few months ago and I've been looking for another. To be honest I thought the gifted watering can the ugliest watering can I'd ever seen in green plastic. I felt terrible - looking a gift watering can in the pout. I took it home and eventually hid it under the stairs. But I thought about it more. My last watering can I lived with 7 years. The buildings they are proposing to build in the Canongate will be for us for decades or hundreds of years. Don't we have a duty rather like Morris would urge us to make sure that they are beautiful? elegant? pleasing to the eye? I would rather have something which gives me pleasure to look and and use it entirely up. Than something that 'does' then I throw it away when tired of it. I'm currently searching for a new bag and the one I currently own is in a sorry state (a very sorry state) but I will not get some thing that will just 'do'.

We don't as a city have to just 'do' because a property developer is scamming us to make money

Here is an article on the public meeting last week. And this is the installation at Causewayside as part of the 6 cities festival. Where some unfortunate woman came up to me to interview me on my opinions on design and I think I ranted for about 10 mins.

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