Theme Park of Scotlandby Robin Baillie, Senior Outreach Officer, 21 December 2016
On an empty wasteland in Granton, the first signs of another way of looking at the world are appearing. After studying the Scottish art collection in the Scottish National Gallery, youngsters from Edinburgh have raised up a small plantation of their own paintings on this desolate brownfield site. These painted, wooden cut-outs of details from the ‘old, brown (gluepot)’ nineteenth century paintings in the gallery, have brought the past to life in this unlikely setting. Here begins what will become... a Theme Park of Scotland.
The young participants in this project wanted to make a ’fantasy land’, and wanted other people to see what they had done, ‘if it was good enough’, even though one of them, Shannon, said she didn’t 'like art, apart from like, drawing and painting'. This is what the project is trying to change, so that their own drawing and paintin’, which they enjoy doing, without calling it art, can actually link them back to the ‘real art’ or as Shannon said, 'culture, in the gallery'.
Asked to represent the culture that he was interested in, Sean said he wanted to make bizarre crests made of the badges up from different Scottish football teams. The pictures in the gallery made him think of their crests with their array of animals, architecture and weapons.
As this project develops over the next three years, we will add a whole forest of these painted signs of Scottishness, as groups of young people develop their creativity on the site. We would like to see them build a contemporary spectacle, which offers a great way into Scottish history and heritage, from a young person’s point of view.
The project’s long term aim is to create an accessible presence for the National Galleries of Scotland in the Granton area, to develop links with the local community and to offer a local gateway to having a relationship to our collections. We will invite local community groups to visit the ‘theme park’, and add to it as it develops.
This project is part of the Scottish National Gallery redevelopment project, Celebrating Scotland’s Art, delivering creative development to young people on a work skills course offered by our partners the employment charity, Tomorrow’s People. This will involve the participants developing their own original, individual artworks, inspired by the content of historical Scottish art combined with contemporary art attitudes and strategies.
There is a long way to go, but already this little bit of North Edinburgh looks seems more positive and poignant, with these artists investing a little bit of themselves into Scotland’s environment. They now have their own little monument to talk about, and hopefully… be proud of.