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Tripod SPRING 2017


Tripod SPRING 2017 CONTENTS • Tim Stead Sculptures • The Barcelona Pavilion • The Value of Heritage. Paul Jardine on heritage’s contribution to reviving our town centres • Borders Forest Trust. Reviving the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland • Stories, Stones and Bones This issue of Tripod includes a few more words than before, and I am grateful to the following for their contributions, thoughts and comments: Philip & Myrtle Ashmole, Paul Jardine, Jane Rosegrant, John Savory, and to my wife for her suggestions. All errors are exclusively mine. Edited and produced by Colin McLean c All images © Colin M Lean Photography Printed copies by Elmbank Print, Peebles Front cover: The Barcelona Chairs

Tim Stead Sculptures

Tim Stead (1952-2000) was one of Scotland’s most

skillful furniture makers. He is best known for his furniture but his sculptures in wood are just as important. I have been photographing a selection of the sculptures for the Tim Stead Trust, which was formed recently to celebrate his work and identify a future for the house which was his home in the Borders. Some are the most

complex three-dimensional jigsaws, created by Tim on a bandsaw, sometimes without even a preparatory sketch, let alone a detailed scale drawing. Tim’s love of wood and woodlands led him to play a seminal role in the formation of the Borders Forest Trust and to create Scotland’s first community woodland, at Whooplaw, near his home. www.timsteadtrust.org


The Barcelona Pavilion

by Mies van der Rohe

The original Barcelona Pavilion was designed as a

temporary building for Germany’s receptions at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition and though it was dismantled only a year later, it became one of the seminal buildings of the twentieth century. In 1983 the City Council of Barcelona commissioned a replica, to be built on the site of the original at Montjuic and it was completed in 1986. Not many buildings in our history have become so respected that they have been replicated half a century after their loss. Why did the Barcelona Pavilion gain such respect? The name of German architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) is well known to any student of modern architecture. His dictum of “less is more” became one of the defining characteristics of the new international style, turning against the elaborate decoration of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Barcelona had housed its first World Fair in 1888, and that had prompted growth in the city and a new focus on architecture, planning and design. So much so that the city welcomed the opportunity presented by the World Fair’s decision to return to the city in 1929. It consolidated the city’s love for its own version of art nouveau, where Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) had been one of its principal exponents. The site for the Exposition at Montjuic was dominated by buildings in a Spanish national style which was monumental and grandiose, such as the Olympic Stadium. Pavilions were erected by a range of European nations. In contrast to the Spanish architecture, some of the international sections of the Exposition introduced the new styles of art deco and, significantly, modernism.

It was the German Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe that shocked and entranced the world. It was designed to do no more than create space for receptions; specifically for the Spanish King Alfonso to sign the document formally opening the German part of the Exposition. The German Pavilion was an exhibition pavilion, but it did not contain an exhibition the pavilion itself was the exhibition. With such a loose brief, Mies had the freedom to explore and express openness and fluidity, with no traditionally defined “rooms” but a series of spaces delineated by smooth, flat vertical planes; spaces which shifted and transformed as the visitor walked through them, all under a single thin white concrete roof slab. The materials were beautiful: slabs of green marble and golden onyx contrasting with clear and darkened glass. The roof was supported on a grid of slender stainless steel columns, cruciform in section and in some places detached from the marble wall panels. Two reflective pools were included, one housing a statue and the other larger pool left empty to act as a reflector. The transitions between interior and exterior were undefined, open interiors merging with open exteriors, and walls stretching out into the open. The spaces are entrancing. Though housing no exhibition, the Pavilion did contain two pieces of furniture, also designed by Mies van der Rohe, and also destined to become timeless icons. The Barcelona Chair, in stainless steel with cream leather cushions, and its accompanying stool, sat elegantly in the space, though Mies himself admitted that no one used them during the opening ceremony. (I sat in one of the beautiful replica chairs during my visit, luxuriating


in a quite moment of silence when I had the space to myself before other visitors arrived.) Each end of the plan is framed by a U-shaped wall. The northern wall encloses the smaller of the two pools: quite dark and calming, and housing George Kolbe’s statue of Dawn - the figure of a woman stretching to meet the new day. The southern wall also wraps round a pool - the larger one is very much external and a counterpoint to the enclosure of the pavilion itself. Both pools were absolutely calm on the day I visited, behaving as perfect mirrors. Slightly offset at the southern end is a small subsidiary building originally intended as a service annex and now the shop. This is beautiful architecture, even if it is a replica. The fluidity of the spaces, the quality of the materials and the calming reflectivity of the pools combine to produce a near spiritual experience. The pavilion is now managed by the Fundacio Mies van der Rohe. www. http://miesbcn.com


The Value of Heritage

Paul Jardine on the contribution that heritage can make to reviving our town centres

When did you last visit a city or town centre

shop? The last decade has seen a continued change in shopping habits and an increase in out-of-town and online shopping. It is now easier to buy books, clothes, footwear, food and many other items online. This has resulted in a need for city and town centres to redefine themselves and their core purpose. While the rise

The new street in an out of town retail park: Glasgow Fort

of Costa, Starbucks, Nero and AMT have filled many vacant units, they fail to provide the ‘heart’ to these centres. Heritage has a continuing role to play in redefining our various centres. Whether this is through leisure activities such as museums, galleries and historic attractions, or as accommodation for retail and other leisure activities, the historic environment is assisting the process of creating destinations and providing a purpose for our city and town centres. The process of transformation requires investment and this is recognised through new partnerships and funding mechanisms. The City Deal initiatives that are currently being developed and delivered across the UK with support from National and UK Governments and their agencies provide some insights into this future for our city centres. The good news is that there is an explicit recognition that culture and heritage have a major role to play in redefining the role of the city and town centres. The City of Inverness plans to have a major attraction located at Inverness Castle, currently accommodating the Scottish Courts Service and Highland Council.


Cultural and heritage venues can bring life to the street: National Museum of Scotland and (below left) Bergerac food market; contrast with the modern shopping mall: Cameron Toll (below right)

Blackpool intends to introduce its first museum, a Museum of Popular Culture. The Tay Cities Deal includes a range of proposals including investing in Perth Museum and Art Gallery, a new cultural attraction for Perth, and the development of Arbroath’s Hospitalfield to become a world class facility for cultural ideas and production. All these regeneration initiatives position heritage and culture at their core. Heritage and culture are viewed as key drivers of footfall. They also have the advantage of emphasising the distinctiveness of particular cities and towns and supporting the move away from the damaging effects of the ‘clone’ town syndrome. Where changing demographics and retail habits have reduced the population’s interaction with city centres, culture and heritage are at the vanguard of reconnecting these with local residents,


visitors and tourists. We have to hope that these initiatives will be successful in providing a new role for our city and town centres as leisure destinations. Paul Jardine is the Managing Director of Jura Consultants, an independent management consultancy specialising in the culture and heritage sector www.jura-consultants.co.uk

Retail in a historic setting (clockwise from top left): West Bow; Raeburn Place; Lawnmarket - all Edinburgh


Borders Forest Trust

Reviving the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland The Borders Forest Trust was formed in 1996 to help restore native woodland to Southern Scotland and to encourage an interest in woodland culture by those in the local community. Though not short of beautiful scenery, the South of Scotland has one of the lowest amounts of native woodland in Scotland. The Trust has set out to redress this by purchasing land for comprehensive replanting and working with other land owners. Its results, particularly at Carrifran, the Trust’s first major project, are now recognised as exemplars which other areas can learn from. The Trust has three principal land holdings. Carrifran, stretching north from the A708 just west of the Grey Mare’s Tail. Talla and Gameshope, at the south end of Talla Reservoir and reaching south to meet Carrifran. And Corehead and the Devil’s Beeftub, near Moffat. Along with the National Trust for Scotland’s estate at the Grey Mare’s Tail, this represents a substantial area of land on which to achieve change. Many of us have grown up to believe that Scotland’s bare hills and moorlands are the natural state of the countryside. Far from it; they were originally heavily wooded, but man’s activities, for example to promote sheep, or to encourage deer population for sporting interests, have denuded the land of its natural woodland. That woodland is what the Borders Forest Trust is re-instating. I spoke with Philip and Myrtle Ashmole - two of the Trust’s pioneering founders. They told me there had been a move to define just where Scotland’s “wild landscapes” were, but the map showed very few in the south, with the concentration in the Highlands. Determined to see an area of Southern Scotland restored to its natural wild state, they and like-minded friends started looking for a suitable site. A valley had its attractions: a discreet unit, a single watershed, and visual isolation. Carrifran, in the Moffat Hills, met the bill. The valley contained only one tree; a single holly. Philip examined the peat record and it revealed a quite different story of many tree types. This mismatch was significant; it meant that Carrifran’s current state was at variance with its past, and validated plans to restore the woodland. After protracted negotiations and an astonishing two years of fundraising - none of it from public sources Carrifran was purchased on Millennium Day, January 1st 2000. Fencing of the periphery was established, and tree planting began, using exclusively native species, collected and grown locally. Over half a million trees


Carrifran blooming in July


Specimen recording day at Gameshope


Beeftub, however, the aims are different. Corehead retains sheep farming, but nearly a quarter of a million native trees have been planted, mainly in the three upper valleys, and an orchard is already established. A key to nurturing the new trees is the management of animals. Carrifran valley is fenced - mainly on the surrounding ridge line, and this fence is checked regularly by volunteers walking its length. Stalkers are employed to control the few deer that manage to penetrate the fencing. The previous owner of Carrifran relocated his sheep and at Corehead the Trust purchased the stock and retains part of the estate as a farm. Whilst Carrifran is by far the most advanced in terms of re-foresting, it is Gameshope valley that I have come to know best, perhaps because it is nearer home. For me it is the Gameshope Burn, with its wonderful series of stunning waterfalls that is a photographer’s delight. The Trust is mindful of its connections to the local community, on whom it depends for support, and it runs a lively programme of training courses on rural skills, such as dry stane dyking and scything. Though very much a late-comer to the Carrifran Wildwood story, I now go there and to Gameshope regularly, relishing the changes that every visit reveals, and being inspired by this beautiful piece of wild landscape. http://www.bordersforesttrust.org have now been planted at Carrifran, by contractors and by volunteers. I asked Philip what we will see by 2050, half a century after the acquisition. “You will be able to walk in a genuinely wild landscape”. What impresses him most at the moment? “The flowers” he responded immediately. I agree - it is the tree planting that is achieving the major change to the landscape, but it is the richness and beauty of the undergrowth - the flowers, grasses and heathers - that strike you on a summer walk, together with the dramatically increased range of insect and bird species. An ongoing study shows there were only four woodland birds recorded at Carrifran in 2007, but by 2015 this had increased to a remarkable 262. The science underlying the Trust’s restoration plans is solid and impressive. The Ashmoles themselves are well published natural scientists, the initial group drew on a range of expertise in the disciplines required, and this continues today. When I joined a group of volunteers (only to photograph them) on a species recording day to establish base-lines of the incidence of flora and fauna, I was particularly struck by how many were experts in their own right, with careers in the natural sciences. The ambitions for the adjoining valley of Gameshope are not dissimilar: planting native tree species and restoring its wild state. At Corehead and the Devil’s


Gameshope Burn


Stories, Stones and Bones

Encouraging people to dig deeper into their past

As part of the year of History Heritage and Archae-

ology, the Heritage Lottery Fund introduced the Stories, Stones and Bones grants programme to encourage more people to get involved with their heritage. I was fortunate to join two groups getting to grips with their past.

The Options In Life group from Fife visited the National Mining Museum at Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange to experience the industry that had once been the backbone of Fife’s economy. Deaf Action assists people with sensory support needs, and the group visited Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to understand the significance of its monuments.

Architectural photography and photography for the heritage sector. 73 Whitehaugh Park, Peebles EH45 9DB, Scotland M 07980 750301 colin@colinmcleanphotography.com www.colinmcleanphotography.com

For high quality photography to promote your project, support your funding application, or advertise your product, service or business, get in touch.

Tripod, Spring 2017 issue  
Tripod, Spring 2017 issue  

Quarterly news from Colin McLean Photography

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