Mine was a recent commission from Melville Housing Association for a new housing development at Langlaw Road, Mayfield, Midlothian. I worked on it with sculptor Susheila Jamieson, and P7 pupils from Lawfield Primary School. (This is a new building – the housing development is on the site of the old school.) The work was to be on the theme of mining, once the main industry in the area, and back in May Susheila and I visited the Scottish Mining Museum at nearby Newtongrange with the pupils.
Back at school we worked with the kids on drawings and texts, based on what they’d seen at the museum, especially some of the big pieces of equipment.
For the works, Susheila settled on five works in stone featuring texts I’d written, along with details from the drawings.
The texts were based either on work by the pupils, or on historical sources. Four of these were made using Caithness flagstone; three of these are laid flat on the ground, and one is a letter-day standing stone. ‘The wisp’ was a piece of lit straw, which at one time was the simplest way of letting those down below know their shift was over.
The fifth uses a boulder found on site, the top of which has been smoothed flat. It sits in an as yet unfinished playpark, with views across the estate to the Pentland Hills in the distance.
Susheila also made large metal panels to be hung on walls either side of the main entrance, and smaller panels for walls inside the estate, based on drawings of machine parts the kids had made at the museum.
Mine was opened on Tuesday 18 September by Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare.