5 QUESTIONS TO HEATHER GOODARE
Heather is the Convener of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (FOMBL), the chief sponsors of the Meadows mural project.
1. What was your reaction when you saw the mural finished and in place?
I was just so pleased to see it. It was quite a complicated task, fitting together all the pieces in the jigsaw; finding the funding, getting agreement and co-operation from all the participants in the work - the artist, the poet, the printers, the owners of the wall, the Council’s Park officers, and finally, the teachers and children from James Gillespie’s Primary School. It is something we can be really proud of.
2. Where did the idea for the mural come from?
Scottish Power, the City of Edinburgh Council and FOMBL were all concerned at the upkeep and visual appearance of the site. The Council had suggested the use of advertising hoardings to ‘brighten it up’. FOMBL wanted to find a much more imaginative solution. At the same time, students from the School of Art came along to a South Central Neighbourhood Partnership meeting suggesting that artwork on the Meadows might be an interesting thing to encourage. We took the bait.
3. This is an enormously ambitious project for a voluntary community group to have steered to fruition. How did you go about gathering the necessary permissions and funding?
South Central Neighbourhood Partnership awarded us a grant that has covered half the cost. Edinburgh Evening News made a contribution and the balance was funded by Scottish Power, who own the walls and kindly gave their consent.
4. How will the mural involve the local community and visitors?
The mural depicts local landmarks, some of which date back to the ‘International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art’, which was housed in a huge pavilion on the Meadows in 1886. I hope it will encourage the local community and visitors to explore further and that it will, in its turn, become a landmark, enhancing the cultural amenity of the area.
5. FOMBL is interested in preserving local history: can you say something about the history of the four Meadow walks named on the mural?
• Boys Brigade Walk was set out in 1954 as part of the centenary celebrations honouring the birth of Boys Brigade founder Sir William A Smith in 1854. There was a ceremony when 75 trees were planted by Boys Brigade members.
• Middle Meadow Walk was the first of the Meadow walks, set out by Sir Thomas Hope when the parkland was created out of a boggy loch. A contemporary letter praises it as standing comparison to London;
• 'Mr Hope has beautified the meadow wonderfully and made it another St James's Park.’
• Coronation Walk commemorates the coronation of George VI in 1937
• Jawbone Walk is called after the iconic arch (now temporarily removed for repair) at the Melville Drive end of the path. The whalebones date back to the 1886 Exhibition where the Zetland and Fair Islands knitters showcased their work by draping it on the jawbones which formed their stand. It is little wonder there is now the urgent need to carry out restoration work on this much loved landmark.