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Mural 2024

Granton:hub were recently awarded funding through the Sustrans Artroots fund for a mural that was to speak to the history and culture of Granton. We commissioned Eve Murray - her fantastic work is now up on display at Granton Castle Walled Garden. We asked her to tell us about the work she has created.

Eve Murray’s Artist statement 

The brief, as stated by the local community, requested that the mural should be bold, colourful, represent local nature, history, industry, the community and the working classes as well as William Speirs Bruce – whom the walkway is named after. 

 

I started with the two most conflicting elements -  nature and industry. How do I resolve that conflict in a meaningful way? I knew that the answer to this question would provide the foundations/inspiration for the mural.

 

On visiting the secret garden, I saw this –

I had found my answer – the reclaiming by nature and the subsequent camouflage effect. 

 

The mural, with its elements of disguise, requires the viewer to actively look and decipher rather than passively absorb the image. This serves as a metaphor for Granton’s past – there is evidence of lost industries if you know where to look, what to look for and have the want to do so. Beyond this, it addresses a more general need for balance between the industrial world which bolsters economies and communities, and the natural world which we often abuse and will ultimately pay the price for. Granton is currently seeking to restore that balance. Edinburgh Council along with its strategic partners are undertaking a regeneration programme in the area - “The overall development will make a significant contribution to Edinburgh’s target to become a net zero carbon city by 2030 through a mix of energy efficient buildings, renewable energy solutions, sustainable travel options and a nature-based approach to climate mitigation and adaptation.”

 

With that in mind it seemed appropriate that the nature layer provide the foundations on which the mural would be built. By depicting plant life found within the secret garden, past and present, I was able to touch upon a sense of community as the garden is both for and run by the Granton Community. It also allowed me to cross bold and colourful from my list of requirements.   

With the base layer complete I could add the other elements. 

1. Granton Oils – Manufactured inks in the late 1800’s with such success that it operated on a global scale and is believed to have had the largest capacity for production world-wide. 

 

2. Esparto grass –Printing and publishing was an important industry in Edinburgh and Esparto grass was a key component of paper production. Imports started in the 1870’s and by the 1950’s roughly a third of all UK imports came through Granton. 

 

3. Ship - When viewed in isolation this ship could represent the harbour, import and export, but when accompanied with the co-ordinates and a little intrigue to investigate further, the viewer will realise this is the Scotia and an acknowledgement of William Speirs Bruce and his work which resonates today as we face the impacts of global warming. 

 

4. Fishing boat – trawling began with sail boats in the 1840’s and steam trawlers followed around the 1880’s. By the 1950’s approximately 17,000 tons of fish were passing through Granton harbour every year.  

 

5. Train tracks – When viewed in isolation can represent the long-abandoned Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway line/Granton station, 1846-1925 and/or the Granton Gasworks Station 1902-1942. However, if its position in relation to the lighthouse and the suggestion of being its beam of light is considered, a connection between the two can be acknowledged and a little research should reveal the world’s first train ferry, the Leviathan, operational from 1849 to 1890 when the Forth rail bridge was completed. 

6. Lighthouse and outlines – provides a symbol of the many lighthouses of Scotland that received goods and equipment delivered by the Pharos which berthed in Granton Harbour opposite Granton Lighthouse, which served as a depot and tested all equipment before shipment. Built in the 1860’s for the Northern Lighthouse Board and operational between 1874 until the early 1970’s. 

 

7. Gasworks – Built between 1898 and 1902. Two other gas holders were added one to the West in 1933 and another to the East in 1966. These have since been demolished but the original, an example of Victorian architecture, has been given listed structure status and is currently being redeveloped into a multi-functional public space.  

 

8. 1507 – the date enclosed within a four-masted “carving” of a ship is a reference to the Great Michael. She was laid down at a purpose-built dock in Newhaven 1507 and completed in 1512. She was the largest war ship of her time. It is believed that her construction required all but one of the woods of Fife as well as timber sourced from other parts of Scotland, Norway, and France. 

 

The inclusion of lost industries and the nature of the industries themselves allowed me to cross history and the working class from the list or requirements. 

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