5 QUESTIONS TO ASTRID JAEKEL
Astrid is the artist who devised the design and artwork of the Meadows Mural.
1. Where did your inspiration for the art work come from?
I came to Edinburgh from Germany to study at Edinburgh College of Art, and I am a keen cyclist, so the Meadows quickly became a place of great value to me. In the course of sketching and researching I found it is so much more than just a delightful green space. It has a vivid history to draw inspiration from.
2. How did you set out to illustrate the words that are woven into your design?
I have used paper cut work for a number of public art installations, both temporary and permanent, including pieces which were installed on Victoria Street and currently in Rose Street in Edinburgh.
Obviously a starting point is to bring the stories the words are telling to life, but I also like to add my own interpretation, going beyond merely illustrating the text. Word and image can bring each other to life without being identical in every way, and I want my illustrations to add to add a sense of discovery for the viewer and passer-by.
3. What were the key decisions you had to make?
Practically, I had to decide on how to use the site most effectively. Artistically, I needed to decide on the overall atmosphere of the piece and also think about who I wanted it to appeal to. The Meadows is a unique place that brings together people of all ages, including children and students, and I wanted the work to delight as many people as possible.
4. Why is the May Queen riding a penny-farthing bicycle?
The May Queen represents the students and the cyclists who frequent the park. She is of our time and also of a bygone age. If you look carefully you will find many Victorian remainders scattered across the Meadows. While I wanted to retain a timelessness within the work, I felt that adding some quirky elements hinting at Meadows history would let me create a somewhat surreal collage of times, characters and objects.
5. There are various other characters on the mural. Who are they?
• There is an archer to honour the Royal Company of Archers which has held its annual tournament in the Meadows for the past 300 years.
• A 19th Century knitting lady from Shetland refers to the history of the Jawbone Arch.
• The cow in the frame on Middle Meadow walk, as Miss Brodie is leading the girls into the Old Town, is a symbol of the cattle market that used to take place where my alma mater, Edinburgh College of Art, now stands.
• Also, how many people know that sheep used to graze on the Meadows?