A series of ordinary landscapes made meaningful by names and dates.
This was a mini-project I did while I was at college a decade ago but I wonder if it is something to re-visit in more depth. Considering the historical significance of some of the battles I was surprised how little had been done to protect these locations. Even when there are museums and interpretation centres, the broader 'battlefield' can be spread over a considerable area of which only a fraction has been protected from development. At some of the sites, particularly for the older battles, there are still disputes over the exact location of the key moments in the battle with several different theories from different historians.
A few years ago I took a different set of portraits with a couple of friends. Lorna brought some costumes with her from her own collection of vintage clothes and Rachel posed in outfits from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. We used a space in another friend's house in Portobello - a lovely old house that was built in the nineteenth century so we could have been creating a fictional former inhabitant through the ages. In the course of the afternoon we created a great set of portraits of Rachel.
As well as the fun of dressing up Rachel ended up with a stylish set of portraits - the sort of picture you can put up on the wall that visitors look at and ask, 'Is that you?'. While it might be a while before we can borrow costumes and use a personal stylist and MUA (Make Up Artist) because of COVID-19 restrictions if you can source your own costume and do your own styling we could take a similar series of portraits either indoors or outdoors. Check out my location portraits page.
Sorting through my photography archive recently I rediscovered my small collection of post box images. I was 'collecting' them a number of years ago and although that early enthusiasm has waned, I still take the odd one these days. I think I need to restart a more systematic collection before they start to disappear. And unlike red phone boxes I can't see any useful repurposing of them that will keep them on our streets when they are no longer used for posting letters.
Sometime my work as a Community Photographer leads me into community activism. I was involved in the campaign for the successful community buy out of Bellfield, documenting the campaign and providing publicity images to help the cause. Last year (2019) Edinburgh Council announced that Portobello Town Hall was to close. Following on from that, community consultations and meetings led to the formation of an informal, unconstituted, group currently called 'Portobello Central' The group includes representatives from both The Wash House and Action Porty (which runs Bellfield) and as well as people involved in various aspects of community, council or commercial life in Edinburgh.
Action Porty is supporting Portobello Central with some services e.g. banking; it considers Portobello Central to be a working sub-group of Action Porty. This is on the clear proviso that the work of Action Porty is not impaired in any way by the connection to Portobello Central. It does not follow that Action Porty would take on the management of the Town Hall, however, there is recognition that there is scope for considering the management of community spaces in Portobello in a joined-up fashion.
A properly constituted and accountable body will have to be established if the Council offers to lease on the basis of a Portobello Central proposal.
The City of Edinburgh Council put out an open call for expressions of interest and asked that any submissions...
"..should provide information on your proposal for the property and in particular: 1. The use to which it may be put together with provision for community or other public use.
2. Any refurbishment and upgrading works together and how these are likely to be funded.”
Portobello Central now wants to have 300 conversations in 30 days from mid-June to mid-July. These are to gather structured feedback about possible uses for the space and costed works to be carried out to make the building ready for opening. These conversations will inform the group's offer to the council as they develop a model to fund these works and finance the running of the building on a leased basis.
Portobello Central want it to be Portobello's offer, based firmly in the community, and so are encouraging people to participate. Obviously in these COVID-19 days it isn't just a case of inviting everyone to a public meeting. so meeting will take place online via Zoom or via online surveys or phone conversations. All the details are on the Portobello Central website.
Currently the Group hopes to have a proposal ready in mid-August 2020.
Images from pre-COVID days when Portobello Town Hall could be used for public meetings without social distancing. Above: political hustings in 2015. Below: Action Porty event organised to canvass community opinions about the Westbank Powerleague site.
A selection of pictures from the year, with a particular emphasis on the Beach busk and the Art Walk, when I took a LOT of pictures! Just some of the many varied activities that were going on in our little bit of Edinburgh that give a flavour of the very real sense of community that exists here. Something that was recognised by the Academy of Urbanism that awarded Portobello their Great Neighbourhood Award 2020 at the 2020 Urbanism Awards in November 2019.
A fabulous fortieth birthday party at the Ghillie Dhu in central Edinburgh. An international gathering with a very Scottish flavour!
International FIRST conference at EICC - six days of lectures and networking with delegates from all over the world.
Larry the Lobster and local children keeping the beach tidy in Portobello, in a campaign supported by local business St Andrews Restaurant & Takeaway.