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East Lothian Crafts Residency

Since March 2006, East Lothian Council Arts Service has been running a twelve month programme based primarily at Prestongrange Heritage Museum, Prestonpans, funded through the partners artist in residency programme. 

For the past year, artist, sculptor and crafts person, Susheila Jamieson has been working with groups on the creation of pieces inspired by the rich heritage of the Prestongrange site, a former mine with a history of brick and glass works. Susheila worked in various locations with participants to create small-scale and medium scale pieces based on preparatory research and investigation. Groups involved in the project include primary and secondary school pupils, local residents and young people in  Prestonpans and Tranent. Susheila Jamieson, East Lothian Crafts Residency; Photo: Joanna Mawdsley

East Lothian Cultural Co-ordinator, Joanna Mawdsley writes about the different projects that took place.

Mosaic Panel
Transition Art Project
Ormiston-Pencaitland Railway Walk Sculpture Project
Wood Carving Project, Preston High School
Mosaic Art project for outdoor courtyard - Ross High School, Tranent
About the artist

The Residency Projects

Mosaic Panel
One of the first groups Susheila met with was the Pennypit Womens’ Support Group in Prestonpans. This group consisted of several women with varying mental health issues who met on a weekly basis for support, chats and tea!  They were delighted to meet Susheila and were really keen to get involved in an arts project to create something for their new centre.  Most of the ladies had fascinating stories about the history of Prestonpans – its industrial heritage and its importance as a major coastal town supplying coal, pottery, glass and brick.

Using photographs as a stimulus for ideas and sketches, the group began work on individual collages, looking at the colours/textures of the environment where they live.  It was decided they would like some text in their artwork to represent the industrial heritage.  After looking at lots of Susheila’s own work they opted to use mosaics.

Mosaic Panel, East Lothian Craft Residency; Photo:Joanna Mawdsley

This is now proudly displayed in the social area of the new Pennypit Community Centre, Prestonpans for everyone to admire!  The women are now looking to apply for funding with the help of their Community Officer to buy art materials so they can continue to create artworks for themselves and their centre.

Transition Art Project
In this project Susheila worked with 32 Primary 7 pupils from Cockenzie Primary School, Port Seton for approximately eight weeks to create artwork for their transition to High School. A research visit to Prestongrange Heritage Museum was the initial stimulus for the pupils. They were given a guided tour and spent time sketching the huge pieces of machinery and industrial landscape. These were photocopied for the next session and using the drawings they were set to work in small groups to design and create a 3-D structure using willow and tissue paper.  The finished structures had battery-operated lights inside them to create an illuminated structure. They were taken to the High School during the transition days and an installation entitled 'Let’s Glow!' was installed in the main hall.  At various times throughout the day the main lights in the hall were switched off and the structures illuminated.

Ormiston-Pencaitland Railway Walk Sculpture Project
A taster wood carving workshop was the key here in establishing an interested group of adults for this project. Several people got involved straight away and a group was established that met each week for approximately eight to ten weeks at Prestongrange Heritage Museum.

After discussions with Susheila the group decided they would like to carve three large totemic structures that represented the coal industry links to this area, the nature and environmental imagery present on the railway walk and the local agriculture that is market gardening. These would be placed on the walkway that links Ormiston to Pencaitland. The group have taken on the role of carvers and artists in their own right; democratically deciding on the work as they progress. They have all expressed an interest in further utilizing and developing their new found skills!

Railway Walk, East Lothian Crafts Residency; Photo: Joanna Mawdsley

Wood Carving Project, Prestonlodge High School
Liaising with pupil support at the school, we were introduced to a small group of S5 pupils who were involved in the extended curriculum. Susheila demonstrated how she worked with different materials and showed them some examples of past projects. The group were taken to Prestongrange Museum for a guided tour and to take photos of everything they found interesting there.  Using these photos as their inspiration they collated lots of images, text and dates found on the machinery at the museum, giving them the subject material for two large designs. Over several weeks they worked at transferring each design onto the wood panels using professional carving tools and techniques.

Wood Carving project, East Lothian Craft Residency; Photo: Joanna Mawdsley The group found the project challenging and enjoyable and some of them have professed an interest in developing their carving skills.  The finished artwork will be installed in one of the outdoor communal areas in their school.

Mosaic Art Project for outdoor courtyard - Ross High School, Tranent
Again liaising with pupils support at the school, a small group of S1 pupils were given the opportunity to work with Susheila.  A research visit to Morrison’s Haven and Prestongrange Museum was the stimulus for them.  The group used photography as a means of recording what they enjoyed and are inspired by. The photos were printed and displayed for the following session, and the group then worked on reproducing their preferred images using collage. The collages were then transferred into mosaic paving stones/slabs using broken tiles, vitreous glass mosaics and found objects such as coal, brick glass and pottery from Morrison’s Haven beach. These slabs are to be permanently installed in the outdoor courtyard.

Railway Walk, East Lothian Crafts Residency; Photo: Joanna Mawdsley The partner's residency has been a great success and really enjoyable for everyone involved. Some of the participants and pupils have expressed an interest in taking their newly acquired skills/learning experiences further, either a college course or a commitment in their own time to explore different ways of working.

This proves that art can be used as a positive learning experience and can inspire participants to continue learning long after a project has finished.

About the artist

Susheila Jamieson studied at Edinburgh College of Art and is primarily a carver working in wood and stone.  She now lives and works in the Borders and has been involved in several large scale community arts projects both locally and nationally since graduating.

During the residency she has been using a digital camera to record the changing seascapes and the immediate surrounding area at Morrison’s Haven as well as the many different reasons people visit the area.

Susheila plans to develop some mosaics themed around her exploration of the intriguing surreal mini landscapes at Ash Lagoons.

Visit our partners area for information on other projects funded through the partners programme.

partners: Scotland's Artist Residency Programme is supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council

Related links
* partners
* Prestongrange Heritage Museum
* Susheila Jamieson
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