Mosaics help foster an identity for the new neighbourhoods

Friday September 23rd 2016

Penicuik mosaic

From left to right: George Cuthbertson, Alastair Black, Ross Taylor, Robert Anderson and Liam Yorkston of Land and Countryside Services at Craigiebield Grove mosaic.

Tenants settling in to their newly built homes in Eastfield and Craigiebield areas of Penicuik are also enjoying two specially designed mosaics. The artwork, which has been produced by Maggy Howarth, of Cobblestone Designs, is in response to a planning condition which is placed on all larger planning applications, including these new-build housing developments.

Councillor Derek Rosie, the cabinet member for property and facilities, said: “The council’s house-building programme is providing much-needed, affordable homes in towns and villages across Midlothian. The mosaics help foster an identity for the new neighbourhoods. The Craigiebield Grove mosaic also helps link with the public pathway to ensure the new homes are accessible to local amenities.”

The new housing development in Craigiebield Grove is located off Craigiebield Crescent, in Penicuik, next to the Craigiebield Hotel, which is a landmark building in the town with its own architectural pedigree. The architect was George Washington Browne who also designed Edinburgh Central Library on George IV Bridge, Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Caledonian Hotel, among others.

Eastfield Grove, which is located off Eastfield Drive, is a development with 17 properties which responds to the needs of the council housing list. The site previously featured a series of derelict lock-ups in very poor repair. The route along this section of the Loan Burn is well used by the public and the development now provides a much improved environment with a safer pathway link from Eastfield Drive.

“The Land and Countryside team from the council were awarded the contracts to install all soft landscaping components at these sites following a successful tender bid. It is the first instance of Land and Countryside being appointed as a sub contractor to install soft landscaping in “new build” housing. Following the success of these two contracts , the team are now installing soft landscaping components at the councils new build in Loanhead, ” added Cllr Rosie.

Artist Maggy, who has previously undertaken other projects around Midlothian, said: “It took a month to make each mosaic. Most of the pebbles were imported from China or Indonesia, where there are no restrictions on collecting. There is also quite a lot of Cumbrian green slate, which we buy from the quarry, chop into small pieces and then tumble to grind away the sharp edges and make ‘pebbles’. It all takes a long time!”

“For Eastfield, we made a traditional interweaving design to remind people of their Celtic roots, and – did you notice – this one has a four hearts and a flower outline in it.

“The bird in the centre is supposed to be a cuckoo, which has associations with Eastfield. It’s rather fancier than the usual kind of cuckoo, but I Iike to liven things up if possible! Then I put in some little bees and a flower border to emphasise the wildlife nearby.”

And on the mosaic at Craigiebield, Maggy said: “I thought we should have a design about the nearby burn, so I drew the Frog and Fish and Dragonfly, all of which should be found there.

In Craigiebield, the inspiration for the mosaic was a response to the proximity of the Loan Burn wildlife and also uses the colours of the new housing, which respond to the Craigiebield Hotel. The development is composed of 17 properties and attempts to blend in with the existing residential environment while creating its own sense of place.

“There’s more artistic licence here, but I find that the mosaics are more interesting with a bit of exaggeration. Of course it’s quite a challenge to make it in pebbles. We spend hours searching for the right pebbles through our extensive collection and sometimes we carve pieces of stone to make the right shape. Sometimes, as with the little bees, we actually make them from clay – glazed and fired in the kiln.”

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