We are over the moon to launch a new mural at Seafield Prom in collaboration with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, artists Katie and Emma of Studio N_Name and local residents.
In Spring last year the Edinburgh Shoreline project hosted a walk along Seafield Prom to look at the plant species present there, and to plan to plant up some areas of amenity grassland with Scottish wildflowers to improve the space for people and wildlife. The walk was attended by lots of interested members of the public and some staff from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.
While on the walk many people commented on the graffiti on the walls along the prom and the fact that the area was quite unpleasant on the eye, despite the fact that it’s a heavily used active travel route for both walkers (particularly dog walkers) and cyclists.
A plan was formulated – perhaps we could paint a mural to brighten up the area and celebrate the amazing landscape around us in the artwork?! Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home had a wall we could use and loved the idea! It’s great to have such a community-focused business like Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home who could really see the benefits of sprucing up the area and wanted to get hands-on.
We appointed artists Studio N_Name and began community consultations. We hosted a session at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and did pop-up stalls along the prom to ask members of the public what they would like the artwork to reflect. Popular answers included the marine environment which is at the heart of the area and the rich cultural heritage – Porty has been famous for glassworks, pottery and is widely used for recreation.
We’re delighted with the finished mural, which is a bright, modern, cartoon-style and has may layers of meaning hidden within the depths. We think it makes a great addition to the Prom and hopefully will attract even more people to visit this end of the walking and cycle path on the prom and discover the amazing coastal views from this point, learn some more about the cultural and natural heritage of the area and get some exercise at the same time!
Here’s what Katie and Emma said about the design:
‘It has been great fun designing this mural as there are so many local themes to include. Some of the content we wanted to include was:
- Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home – We felt it was important to reflect Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home in the mural, as they have been part of the local community, particularly at the Seafield Prom for the last 60 years. Some of their four-legged residents are very lucky to be walked on the beach – what an amazing exercise ground to have access to!
- Marine animals – We chose the porpoise to represent marine animals for the mural, thanks to the Facebook page ‘Porty People’. Last year we spent lots of time checking out the posts on the page to find out what local people cared about. It was amazing the amount of posts about the porpoise which were spotted from the beach – every day a new post from an excited resident! There’s a whole eco-system just there in the sea in front of us and the porpoise reflects that. There’s also little fish in the mural, as fishing has been so important to the economy of Edinburgh in the past.
- Marine birds – The Edinburgh coastline is a Special Protected Area because of the marine bird populations that call it home, either year-round or as winter migrants. We wanted to incorporate a bird that we felt represented Portobello – the cormorant. The first time we came down to do a site visit we saw one fly the length of the beach, and they’re often spotted fishing from the groynes.
- Seaweeds and seagrasses – Did you know that in the late 19th Century collector George Traill collected 150 different species of seaweed from Joppa rocks? Many of those species have now been lost, but improving water quality means some are coming back. We wanted to reflect the importance of looking after our local environment so included the seaweed as a reminder of this.
- Bees and pollinators – Seafield is a really botanically rich area; the land behind the Seafield Sewage Plant is full of coastal species such as thrift and sea campion, and is ablaze with colour thanks to lupin in the summer months. There are local initiatives to plant more wildflowers along the Prom for bees and other pollinators; the bees in the mural represent the importance of these habitats.
- Recreation – During consultations people raved at how amazing it was for the area to have access to a beach for walking, jogging, cycling, dog walking, playing, spending family time, swimming, getting away from it all and finding place to think. In the past Portobello and Seafield were a holiday destination, with many attractions such as the Marine Gardens and outdoor pool. For this reason we’ve included lots of references to recreation in the mural. You’ll see an oar which reflects how important coastal rowing is in this area – it’s wonderful to see the skiffs out in all weathers! You’ll also see a sandcastle – who doesn’t love to build a sandcastle at ‘Costa del Porty’ on a summers day?
- Industry – Portobello and Seafield has a really interesting industrial past. Perhaps one of the best known industries is the Buchan pottery works near to the Figgate Burn. Ceramics were produced there, and at previous potteries, for around two centuries. We decide to reflect this is in mural by incorporating the two kilns which are synonymous with the local skyline, and also by taking motifs and patterns found on the beautiful Buchanware and using this to design our mural background.’
It’s been a real pleasure to work with Katie and Emma, and with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home who have been so committed to the project. We are grateful to our project funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund, whose generous help has made the mural possible. We are also incredibly grateful to local business Mark Smith Glazing Ltd. who also kindly donated to the mural – thank you for caring about making your local area a better place to be!