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Allan Crescent Flats

FLAT 124 - Bird's Eye View

Abbeyview Library - Ghost Lines

Carol Lambie

SEE EYE 23rd - 24th March 2007

 

On demolition day the views from the upper flats on Allan Crescent will vanish, as the flats are due to be replaced by two-storey houses which will look dwarfish in comparison. Like the ex tenants, many birds have built their nests in the buildings, and they will have to move house as well - but at least they will still be able to enjoy the view, flying around in the newly liberated skies. In contrast to the light outside Carol Lambie’s work is shown in the darkness of a boarded up flat with no access to the surrounding landscape except for the views described through illuminated drawings, which are projected onto the bare walls. Although the illustrations were originally hand-drawn they are shown as a light projection, representing the daylight image in an electric form. The austerity of the dark and deserted space, and the concentration on an obscured aspect of life there – the boarded-up view outside – offers the audience the chance to immerse themselves in that view, mediated through the eyes of an artist, one last time before it is lost forever.

 

The demolition of the flats in Allan and Duncan Crescent - part of the regeneration of Abbeyview - will change the entire landscape of the place. Often it is not until something changes, or disappears, that the eye registers its existence in our lives. Thus Carol’s work acts as a memorial, seeking the attention of as many eyes as possible, perhaps in order to provide a bridge between the human experience of living in the flats and the radical transformation effected upon their demolition. The window structure is included in several of the drawings to frame the view and give the viewer the sense of experiencing the obscured vantage point for themselves. The images represent the views looking around the curve of Allan Crescent, the back courts and details within them.


At the same moment of destruction the removal the buildings will open up entirely new vistas, such as the Firth of Forth, and the hills surrounding Abbey view, an issue which is addressed in an accompanying work, entitled Ghost Lines, which can be found in Abbey view library. This piece takes the form of an illustration of the changing landscape as seen from the library window, being drawn on the window pane itself. Thus Carol’s work deals both with remembrance of the past landscape, and the ever-changing reality of the present one.

 

Chris Hladowski

 

Bird's Eye View Story
Carol Lambie


The woman at the bus stop starts up a conversation. “They are pulling down these flats, eh. I still live in that block but I’m the only one left. It’s full of damp though, eh. I’ve got it lovely but the front rooms are full of damp.”
I’m standing looking at the close that will house our art event and it seems rather trivial in comparison. She is waiting on a house for her and her 5 kids to move into, not knowing when or where she will move. Regardless of this, she tells me that she desperately wants to redecorate her flat, although her boyfriend is having none of it, such is the need to have and take pride in her home. She asks me if I am photographing the damp on the roughcast and I explain that the mossy veins remind me of tree roots. I vaguely tell her the artwork will involve trees, aware that she would just like someone to tell her for definite what, where and when, in order that she is able to settle. As I speak however, I realise how relative and poignant the motif of the tree is.


The flats of Allan and Duncan Crescent have dominated the inner circle of Abbeyview for tens of years, each family settling and making nests with what they had. The connotations of putting roots down and of family trees are strong, with the buildings becoming the trees themselves in the landscape starkly devoid of mature wood.


I enter the close and climb the stairs to the top flat. From the living room window I look out onto the central common ground of grass, bright structures and the Bowling Club. This view will fall along with the window on demolition day, the vantage point never to be used again when two storey houses replace the lofty buildings. Standing quietly looking out of the window, I become aware of birds chattering in an exposed air vent beside the window. They have the same view as I do, having made their home here in this branchless concrete structure when the human inhabitants left. They too will have to find a new home, their high, safe houses disappearing as the regeneration continues.


The community of Abbeyview will cheer come demolition day, the dampness and modern antisocial nature of the common closes never to be repeated here. Rightly so, since these structures tried but failed to provide healthy, user-friendly homes for the community. Woven into this however, are views, memories and people putting down their roots in the area. The flats will be razed but the roots will continue to grow deep as the regeneration transforms this proud area for the community who belong here.


 

Abbeyview Library - Ghost Lines


Often it is not until something disappears that the eye registers its existence in our lives. With each visit, the users of Abbeyview Library have subconsciously absorbed the landscape of Allan Crescent from the window.


The image on the glass serves to focus the mind’s eye on the panorama that once was there, before the demolition of the flats changes it forever. As the viewer aligns themselves with the drawing they will see it from the artists perspective and the detail will complete the image.


Just as the library engages and informs us so too does the image drawn onto the glass. Whereas the library gives the information to take away, this piece of work gives the information of what has been taken away from us and will remain a reminder until the demolition is completed.

 

 

© 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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