The focus in the 2nd year of both Lindsay’s and my residency was on each artist producing a public art commission for the Pennywell All Care Centre. Built by NHS Lothian and the City of Edinburgh Council, through the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, the new health centre in Muirhouse was opened in December 2017.
Celebrating the unique, the ubiquitous and things that tell stories.
Following in the European tradition of the ‘Wunderkammer’ The People’s Museum of Memory and Myth (PMMM) is a curated collection of artefacts with the intention of generating curiosity, reminiscence, association and wonder. A bespoke ‘cabinet of curiosities’ installed in the foyer of the Pennywell All Care Centre in Muirhouse, the cabinet consists of 9 vitrines each populated with objects donated or salvaged from communities and individuals within North West Edinburgh. Each item holds a fragment of history, personal or collective, factual or mythical, and carries with it the potential to ignite memories, generate conversation and connect people through the power of objects and stories.
The objects have not been selected because of profound historical provenance or monetary value but for nostalgic or sentimental significance and to honour the diversity of social histories, personal experiences and collective stories; from a grandmother’s handbag imbued with personal and sentimental memories to a megaphone a symbol of collective activism and protest.
The design of the PMMM draws on influences from local history and concepts of the fluidity and chronology of memories. The cabinet stands on eight cast iron wheels rescued and restored from an early 20th century railway station bogey. This railway reference comes from the history of local railway networks that once connected outlying communities with Edinburgh City and also from the commercial railroad that once transported coal to the local Granton gasworks. The design of the stacked vitrines draws inspiration from piles of travel-trunks or transportation crates as if arriving from another time and place referencing the metaphor of journey as it might apply to memory, history and chronology. The PMMM logo of the station masters pocket watch is also derived from this and emphasises notions of time – travel. Finally, the colours of the cabinets, orange, blue, green and grey are derived from the linoleum floor tiles of El Mexi’s newspaper shop which served the Muirhouse community for many years and was laterally used as a studio for the artist residency.
Most importantly The People’s Museum of Memory and Myth would not have been possible without the participation, generosity and enthusiasm of the many local residents who shared their memories and donated their artefacts.