The Craigmillar desk project:
This project from June - August of 2022 where I was given the task to bring life back to a unusable 1920s desk that had been donated to the centre the previous year. Here there was a desire for the desk to be upcycled into a piece that inspired the community to use the outdoor shed space and to have somewhere to store creative projects. With the final aim of the project to finish on the 25th August with the launch of the Craigmillar Now's Here and Now project wich involves local artists running workshops to inspire creativity in the community through 2022-23.
The project began with exploring how I could bring new purpose to what was essentially a broken desk, thinking how I could give it a long term and functional role that keeps giving to the community rather than being simply a decretive piece of art, essentially having the desk as a work of art that encourages exploration and creativity with its function and design.
Key to this aim, was in changing its original function from a schoolmasters desk to a creative archive. Rather than its draws simply being filled with supplies or papers, my ideas worked with the aims of having the desk set up as a community art archive, filled with art made by the community. The desk essentially is like a free exhibition within each draw where opening one would be opening a box of ideas and discoveries for yourself to freely use, be inspired by, return to time whenever you visit the desk. Importantly too its a space to drop off community art where people using the space could, freely add to it keeping the art archive alive, diverse and constantly changing.
So the first stage in this was in getting the desk back into a functional state, wich resulted in sanding, waxing and refitting all of the draws since over time they had become warped and none as much as you tried even at that stage fitted into the desk!
After many hours of work things worked out all well and the desk was lovingly restored back to function, so came the more exiting chapter of the desks journey turning it into a peice of art!
Looking at the desk, I felt its traditional exterior needed to metamorphize to become exiting, engaging and a talking point where it would be noticed as a feature rather than simply being a piece of functioning furniture. So I Upcycled and created a few designs to tell a story of past, present and future
wich would be painted onto the desk working alongside much of the desks hand built original character.
The first part to my design was in giving the
three main draws of the desk some identity.
Here I painted the local names of Craigmillar,
Greendykes and Niddrie upon their fronts. Here with these
names I reflected the communities that surround Craigmillar
Now and the theme of today.
The next part of the designed was something upcycled from a older project designing interior features of a seed libary that due to changes in the centres plans never occurred. With these quirky pictish inspired designs being really liked by many in the centre it felt a perfect defining style to add to the desk. With the desks designs I drew up a couple of new additions to work alongside some of the old pictish symbols, creating a dormouse and goose, where with the latter we amazingly have evidence of being depicted by Pictish cultures over 1000 years ago!.
Pictish design through my research and personal love of it to me reflects the incredibly rich and diverse history in Scottish design, so I honestly couldn't resist adding such flair and a iconic signature to the desks design to represent the past.
I then finalised the painted designs with notes of vivid colour and gold leaf with the gold shining light to the desks architectural features and the colour highlighting and catching the eye making the desk alive and bizarre at first glance. Here with the desk illuminated in such ways I represent a vibrant, diverse and hopeful future, led by the freedom to create.
So by the 25th August the desk was completely transformed and brought out to the outdoor community creative space of Craigmillar Now. On this day with the Here and Now launch event we placed the first artworks into its draws from a drawing workshop I ran on the same day to start the creative archiving and journey of inspiration with the desk.
The desk as I found it in storage.
with its draws refusing to fit and
it certainly in need of some
work before i got to the painting
one of the draws during its restoration work where I was sanding off years of grime and old varnish.
The Niddrie draw with the texts design inspired by the arts and crafts movement and traditional signwriting skills I studied in my university years.