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Allan Crescent Flats - FLAT 124 - Potent

Ben Spencer

SEE EYE 23rd - 24th March 2007

 

Allan Crescent forms an arc overlooking the new recreational facilities at the heart of Abbeyview. Flat 126, a brightly painted top floor flat, has light flooding in from the windows, creating a lively and friendly space. Ben Spencer has stripped the flat completely bare of all furnishings, carpets etc, and in the back bedroom has created an installation made up of three yew trees, utilising the four walls and ceiling of the room, which allows the plants to seemingly colonize the space. This room has a view of Dunfermline Abbey where a yew tree is also found. The yew is traditionally associated with death and renewal and is therefore a potent symbol for the regeneration of Abbeyview. Yew sprays were apparently used as dowsing tools to find lost things, and tradition also has it that keeping a yew stick behind your door wards off evil. Yews are often used as landmarks, for example to mark boundaries, roads and paths, on ridge-ways and so on.


The fact that the trees are removed from the soil suggests an uprooting, like the people who have meet uprooted from the flats. Flat 126 has clearly been decorated recently, with a lot of pride put into the work – there are still relics of DIY work to be found in the cupboard, and children’s pictures mounted on the walls, creating a poignant setting for such a work.

 


In the next room, to the front of the flat, there is a transcription onto the walls the words of The Auld House by Carolina Oliphant. This provides a textual counterpart to the magical activities of the yew trees. Lines such as: “The wild rose and the Jessamine Still hang upon the wa’: How mony cherished memories Do they, sweet flowers, reca’!” sums up perfectly the symbolic and psychological importance of plants in reaffirming our place in the world, expressing our identity in a mysterious yet profoundly simple and beautiful way. The poem also sums up the sadness experienced when leaving a place we have grown up in and become attached to, the symbol of the Yew able to convey notions of life, growth, and in this instance, death: “Wi’ flowers o’ every hue, Sheltered by the holly’s shade, And the dark sombre yew.”


Potent can be seen as a work of continuity and foresight - building on the past for the future. Through a consideration of the environment, and particularly the lack of trees in Abbeyview, the work re-contextualizes observations of the landscape in order to celebrate the regeneration of the area. After the exhibition closes the trees will be planted in Pittencrief Park, Dunfermline.


Chris Hladowski

 

The Auld House

Carolina Oliphant

(1766-1845)

OH, the auld house, the auld house!
What though the rooms were wee?
Oh, kind hearts were dwelling there,
And bairnies fu’ o’ glee!
The wild rose and the jessamine
Still hang upon the wa’:
How mony cherished memories
Do they, sweet flowers, reca’!
Oh, the auld laird, the auld laird,
Sae canty, kind, and crouse!
How mony did he welcome to
His ain wee dear auld house!
And the leddy, too, sae genty,
There sheltered Scotland’s heir,
And clipt a lock wi’ her ain hand
Frae his lang yellow hair.
The mavis still doth sweetly sing,
The blue-bells sweetly blaw;
The bonnie Earn’s clear winding still
But the auld house is awa’.
The auld house, the auld house!
Deserted though ye be,
There ne’er can be a new house
Will seem sae fair to me.
Still flourishing the auld pear tree,
The bairnies liked to see;
And oh, how often did they speir
When ripe they a’ wad be!
The voices sweet, the wee bit feet
Aye rinnin’ here and there;
The merry shout—oh! whiles we greet
To think we’ll hear nae mair.
For they are a’ wide scattered now,
Some to the Indies gane,
And ane, alas! to her lang hame;
Not here will meet again.
The kirkyaird! the kirkyaird!
Wi’ flowers o’ every hue,
Sheltered by the holly’s shade,
And the dark sombre yew.
The setting sun, the setting sun,
How glorious it gaed doun!
The cloudy splendour raised our hearts
To cloudless skies abune.
The auld dial, the auld dial,
It tauld how time did pass;
The wintry winds ha’e dung it doun,
Now hid ’mang weeds and grass

 

© Nicola Atkinson.Does Fly. All images taken and created by Nicola Atkinson.Does Fly unless otherwise stated. Site produced by The Public & NADFLY.  

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