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?