A walk down Memory Lane

Kate MacKay creating the muralLeith is where it all started for Craig & Rose in 1829, so when we were asked to supply paint for the Memory Lane mural project we were delighted to be involved!

Memory Lane is a project by Remembered Imagined and the Living Memory Association which tells the stories of the people of Leith, from whaling ships leaving Leith harbour to the celebrations of Leith pageant.

The project is a multimedia one, involving music, an audio walking tour and a permanent mural depicting the adventure and the heartache of past times.

Kate Mackay of Alchemy Arts is the artist commissioned to create the mural which will have pride of place beside Teuchters at the Shore. Kate took some time out to give us an insight into the project.

So how did Kate get involved?

The position for an artist as part of this project was advertised through Creative Scotland. Kate knew that the job was perfect for her, being a specialist in community projects and having collaborated with Amble Skuse, commissioner of the project before on Journey of a Thousand Wings.

Living in Leith herself, she also had a personal interest in the project and the community. Kate also has a mural sited in Seafield, which was created as a Waste Aware project for the recycling site using paint that had been taken to the dump.

Kate explained “It is actually above and beyond the original remit of the project for the mural to have a permanent home - the artwork was originally imagined to be a temporary installation with photos. The idea then grew wings as Teuchters offered the wall space for a permanent installation, and Craig & Rose donated the paint for the mural. The fact that the project has grown and evolved illustrates the real community spirit that still exists in Leith - we couldn’t have done the project without the community involvement and donations.”

So how did Kate go about creating the mural?

“First of all we gathered black and white photos and newspaper cuttings that had been passed down through generations. We then interviewed people, which really brought the images to life. Lots of the memories were snapshots of time that stay with you, rather than historical moments. I found myself wondering who some of these people were, and if they are still alive - what are they doing now?”

 “Through talking to people it became clear that there really was a sense of pride of having come from the area and people wanted to invest back in to it. Leith and The Shore has changed so much and hearing these memories really brought the history to life.”

“I then scanned all of the photos (rather than working with the precious originals) and began working out the main themes and drawing up the design on paper. Once I had this ‘blueprint’ I then chose the colours.”

I’m now in the process of creating the artwork on large panels of marine plywood, which, once painted, will be coated with varnish to protect the mural. I really hope I can do justice to everything I have been lucky enough to have shared with me!”

So what does the mural depict?

“The mural starts with young men leaving the port on a whaling ship, full of adventure. The next panel shows a wartime memory of a spitfire flying down water of Leith, along with some details of family pictures and street details like the beautiful craftsmanship on the lampposts. Then we have the Leith Provident building, the Leith Pageant and memories of the cinema and ballroom of great junction street. The mural then depicts the industry side of Leith with the whisky bond,  paint-making at the Craig & Rose factory, and the ironworks and Leith Bridge. We also have the women of the Seaman’s Mission, now Malmaison, and the flying angel icon. The community elements shows families living as a community, socialising from balconies and children playing. The mural then comes to a conclusion with the whaling ship returning to the port with the young men of Leith safe and sound aboard.”

When will the project go live?

The Memory Lane project launches on the 6th August, with walking tours available until the 31st August 2014. You can buy tickets for the launch event from rememberedimagined or download the maps, app and audio here.

The mural will be a permanent fixture and will be part of Leith’s history itself in years to come!