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  • Writer's pictureMichael Inman

Finding My Roots : September - November 2021

In September 2021 I started my residency in the community gardens, and it was immediately clear that there were plenty of things to do!

I started by exploring and researching the remaining features of the garden from the previous Craigmillar Arts Centre that opened in 1977, transforming the grounds and space from the church (St Andrews) that was its predecessor.

From discussions with members of the community I feel it's really important to preserve and record features from the previous Craigmillar Arts Centre in our archives, so that some can be included in our plans for the garden especially when it comes to the works of art that the current centre has inherited. I myself have grown particularly fond of one that's been dubbed the ‘Elvis miner’ statue, lovingly created and designed by Alex Brown and currently sitting by the old font and main entrance to the centre on its plinth of local bricks.

part of my journey here will be in researching and learning about the art within the garden recording them all for the archives but also seeing new ways in how to include them within the new garden spaces I aim to develop. My journey in this will be recorded within the 'Art within the Garden' part of this site.

As i firstly mentioned ill be looking at new ways to develop and enhance the sites garden spaces so they can be brought back to being enjoyed and loved by the community, as a place to learn, grow and most importantly Enjoy!. Though before we get to that stage, theres lots of work to get stuck into in order to bring these spaces back into use. Ive therefore identified a few key focuses for my first year of residency from November 2021 - November 2022 to really organise in order to make the most of the fantastic spaces we have at the centre.

which are the following...

1- The shed.

This space is in some real need of TLC as when I first saw it, It was cluttered with old garden tools, a random assortment of damaged art supplies and an abandoned mouse nest made of crisp packets and wood within it its the floor! Thankfully I have managed over September ive managed to clear this all out, and it's all thankfully now mouse free!

I feel this shed has great potential to be a multi-use space, that wouldn't just be for storage but also with fantastic potential to be a outdoor community space for events or even future artists such as myself to work within during the summer months.

so far, I’ve been having chats with the Payback support team - Whom are trained in grounds management and repair and also Rachel whom is currently helping manage the centre to explore options of repairing and repurposing the shed space. Some of wich has already began this month where the hole in the floor and side has already been repaired.

2- The vegetable beds.

Within the Craigmillar now gardens directly in front of the shed space there are two raised beds: one that's constructed from breeze blocks adjacent to the centre with a lot of shrubs,

and then a second large wooden bed in which apparently used to be a pond of all things!

These currently have the remainders of a vegetable garden that was briefly used to grow food for the fantastic Craigmillar festival that happened in August but are currently looking rather sad and weedy.

within this area ill be looking at exploring the idea of setting up a Dye Garden.

Expanding on the current growing spaces that exist to teach and share the magic of colour and plants with the community as also provide a space that would benefit and be enrichening for local wildlife. This also will hopefully lead to some wonderful collaborations and workshops at the centre in the coming year, and could provide opportunities to work with the seed library that is also being established at the centre.

3- The big space to the right of the shed:

This area used to be the community allotments and is the resting place of Bob Cairns, a well-loved member of the Craigmillar Arts Centre whose ashes were interred here a few years ago alongside a memorial tree. Sadly, little else is growing here at the moment, and it's filled with fly-tipping and rubbish from the time the site wasn't in use.

As a result, much of the area as we see here is effectively buried beneath several feet of junk, brambles and branches!. Therefore I’m aiming to organise the clearing of this area as soon as possible, so that the resting place of Bob Cairns can be properly accessed and the area can be of use to the community once more. I'll be discussing with the future use of the site with Rachel, as well as exploring ways to prevent future fly-tipping that's been a real problem here in past. All being well this should hopefully be looking much better by the end of the year as is a key personal priority of mine with the garden spaces.

4- The shipping container:

A old relic from the previous centre its unfortunately in a poor state of repair largely damaged and leaking with its contents damaged and unidentifiable. I'll be looking at how in what is salvageable within the container at a future point and exploring options for its future clearance and purposing if it can be done with Rachel and the team at the centre in the near future.

Hopefully having these 4 big tasks taken care of, the garden will visibly will be dramatically in a much better state, wich then would reduce risk of further fly tipping and misuse, but also would make the centre visibly look much more welcoming as also being a big visual statement that the centre is reopened and back in use.

There also would be improved accessibility across the gardens alongside more facilities to then act as a good base for future long term development and use.

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