Portobello Prom is a place for Art. Some of it is official, literally part of the fabric of the Prom like these two modern mosaics close to Westbank/Tumbles.
Other elements are remnants of specific projects, notably the annual Art Walk, which takes place every September. While much of the commissioned public art is temporary, some pieces last longer. The most notable of these is Cressida, the sculpted metal octopus at the end of the groyne at the foot of Bath Street. Initially installed for the first Art Walk in September 2015 she was twice claimed by the sea during winter storms but was successfully rescued and re-installed. (In fact the story of Cressida is probably worth a blog post all of its own, so I'll come back to that!) For now here is a recent picture at a high Spring tide with Cressida almost completely submerged.
Last summer's Art Walk had a strong musical element, including the Bandstands project which is still present on the Prom at the sites of two former bandstands, There is an app related to the project with music and archive photographs to download when you get to the locations.
Great as it is to see these works of art along the Prom, there are also other, unofficial, pieces that appear and stay a while. They can vary in size - some are large and unmissable but others are small and tucked away so you can overlook them if you aren't paying attention. Like the Portobello Public Pencil Sharpening Project installations. So far I have found four of them - I wonder if there are any more?
There were a number of wooden objects at different points along the Prom but most of them seemed to have gone except for the Fish, Fish, Not Fish piece.
I wonder what art will appear next on the Prom?
As 2018 comes to a close a quick look back through my year in Portobello. Lots of pictures down on the beach but also other places in Portobello. Scenery and weather, birds and sea creatures and plenty of community events. Some personal highlights were the reopening of Bellfield, the Big Beach Busk, Art Walk Porty, the Ganesh Festival and the Christmas Street Festival but I also love the little details I have spotted and photographed through the year.
The Big Walk came to Portobello on Saturday 26th May. Organised by the Eden Project four walkers set off from Morecambe to walk home, one to each of the nations of the UK. The Scottish walker, Angus McLeod, was heading for Dundee when he stopped off in Edinburgh and walked along the Prom at Portobello. I took some pictures of his visit, and chatted with him for a while to hear about his experiences on his walk.
AOC Archaeology Group are undertaking of a series of archaeological works on land previously occupied by warehouses and offices in Baileyfield Crescent, Portobello.
The project was undertaken on behalf of Barrett Homes Ltd and started in the summer of 2017. The most substantial part of the works involved the large-scale excavation and recording of structural remains associated with both the Abercorn Brick & Tile Works and the subsequent United Bottle Works. These remains included early 19th century brick kilns, floors, flues, chimney bases, brick drying structures and numerous wall foundations. The remains represented all phases of the brick works development as illustrated on historical mapping from the late 18th century to its demolition in the early 20th century.
The works also revealed that significant late 19th to 20th century infilling and levelling had taken place on site, with dumped material exceeding 4m. These deposits were especially deep along the southern and eastern parts of the development area.
A large number of small finds were recovered from the dumped material infilling the structures. These consisted of bottles, glass slag, stamped bricks and stoneware from the surrounding factories. The majority of the material appeared to date to the early 20th century and had been deposited once the brick works had been partially demolished and the area incorporated within the United Bottle Works.
A significant number of stamped fire bricks were recorded lying in situ within the drying kilns. These bricks represent the final firing undertaken within the brickworks before the operation went out of business between 1909 and 1919, with the site then being taken over by the United Bottle Works. [Information from the AOC Archaeology Group website]
There was an Open Day on the site, although there was some confusion over the date!
Although Bellfield Church and halls in Portobello - the building at the heart of the first successful urban Community Right To Buy in Scotland - isn't going to officially open until later in the year, it was the venue for a pilot community event this afternoon. A combination of Action Porty, Tribe Porty Youth Theatre and Portobello Heritage Trust hosted an afternoon event at which older residents of Portobello were encouraged to come along, enjoy some music and afternoon tea and share their memories of the Edinburgh suburb with the newest generation of Portobello residents. At the same time the team bringing the building back into community use were able to gauge their progress and see what things still need to be done ready for the big opening in June 2018.
Portobello Community Choir gathered in the Community Orchard at Donkeyfield next to Brunstane Station for an afternoon of apple-related songs. The choir continued a tradition of 'wassailing' - singing in orchards to encourage a good fruit harvest in the year to come.
Action Porty held its inaugural AGM at Bellfield. At the meeting the original Friends of Bellfield group, set up to support the Bellfield campaign, was disbanded and incorporated into Action Porty. Also, when Action Porty was formed it was a legal requirement to define a catchment area from which to seek a mandate for the Community Right to Buy of Bellfield. That boundary was extended to a new, larger catchment area when a motion was passed at the AGM.
Not completely sure why but there were loads of Starfish washed up on Portobello Beach. There seemed to be some debate whether this was usual for this time of year, when storms churn up the sea bed, or a symptom of something more serious happening in coastal waters. Either way the image attracted some media attention.
It appears to be a tradition to burn Christmas trees on the beach in Portobello to mark the end of the Christmas season. Another impromptu community activity that seems to attract local people of all ages.
The annual impromptu Loony Douk on Portobello Beach on January 1st. Unlike bigger, more organised events elsewhere, such as South Queensferry, the Portobello Douk is when a number of locals gather to run into the sea. Some wear fancy costumes, others are in more regular swim gear. And crowds of warmly dressed spectators watch the madness.