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Golspie Recycling and Environmental Action Network

Community Garden
The Art Garden Project
Community Interest

Platform 3 with marigolds; Photo: Pete Higgins

The Golspie Recycling and Environmental Action Network art garden project will increase access to contemporary art for the whole community, enhancing the exisiting community garden.

Community Garden

The Community Garden was created in 2004 to ‘close the loop’ by using the compost generated by a community composting scheme.  Local groups can now grow fresh fruit and vegetables in mini-allotments in a central octagon, while the peripheral beds are being planted to create a pleasant place for relaxation, to attract wildlife, and as a resource for local schools.

Platform 1: Photo: Pete Higgins

It is the centre of a wide range of activities, including sowing, raising and growing plants, encountering wildlife, raising awareness of recycling, imparting rural skills, and training in basic job skills.

The Art Garden Project

A project to develop the garden as an arts garden is now nearing completion. The art garden project will increase access to contemporary art for the whole community; it will also create a place to meet in the centre of Golspie which will be used by school students, local residents and visitors.  The Art Garden is set to become a prominent venue for all sorts of art-related activities, which stimulate interest in and raise awareness of artistic issues.

A trellis, designed by artist Nigel Mullan, has been installed along two sides of the garden, fostering a sense of seclusion and raising the eye line to emphasise the mountains behind Golspie.  The garden is laid out on an hexagonal pattern, and the trellis reflects this, with thin lathes woven into geometric shapes. Platform 1; Photo: Pete Higgins

The central part of the garden, at the meeting point of four paths, has been paved with squares of Caithness slab incised with another geometric pattern mimicking a flower, picked out in red.  In the four corners, between the paths, stand four columns of Clashach stone whose surfaces are inscribed with a semi-ordered pattern based on that of stomatal pores found on the underside of leaves.

Central area with sunflowers; Photo: Pete Higgins

In the peripheral beds three Caithness slab structures have been erected to serve a variety of purposes.  One will provide additional seating, and all are platforms for the display of outdoor artworks.  Their positioning and the perspectives they create form the second tier of architectural elements in the garden, building on the basic layout and dividing space to highlight different planting regimes.

More seating, made of recycled plastic milk bottles, is being installed to allow the central area to be viewed during performances.  The furniture is low maintenance, needing no painting or preservatives, and ties in with the recycling theme of the garden.

Community Interest

Considerable interest is being generated by the project, with enquiries from many local artists and visits from councillors and MSPs. The High School Art department has shown a close interest and press coverage has been very favourable. One dramatic performance has already been staged, artworks produced by local children are ready for installation, and a series of fortnightly musical performances, probably with dancing, is planned for the summer of 2008.

Half of the available cropping space is used by Golspie High School students taking a two year course in Rural Skills.  There is a partnership agreement with the school whereby placements for up to 13 students per week are provided.

Platform 2; Photo: Pete Higgins

Since 2005 placements have been provided for a training project aimed at non-academic school leavers, although other groups are also taken.  The scheme seeks to impart basic job skills, a good attitude to work and learning, and improved employability.


The project was made possible with the help of an award of £6,875 from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund and additional support from Highland 2007, Landfill Community Fund, GREAN, Golspie High School, and Co-op Community Dividend.

Related links
* Govan Housing Association
* Scottish Enterprise
* Glasgow City Council
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