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John Muir's Tr'Ale

Four John Muir Tapestry panels, a Mural and his Tr'Ale

April 17th is a big moment this year as the 'new' comprehensive John Muir Trail is officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond - in Dunbar. The Museum there in his old home is offering an exhibition of all manner of artworks and artefacts associated with the world's greatest/ earliest conservationist. We'll be there from the Prestoungrange Arts Festival with all four of the completed John Muir panels from the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry. [It's a preview of them because the premiere isn't until May 31st during the 3 Harbours Festival at Prestonpans Community Centre.]

The first panel, seen below and stitched by Marilyn Nicholson, tells of his birth in Dunbar.

His later youth was in Marquette County Wisconsin USA where the second panel, shown below, has been stitched by Kathleen McGwin and many friends there of their John Muir Historical Trust.

The final two are coming from California where he made his international reputation as a conservationist with the foundation of the National Parks movement - stitched in the USA by Rebecca Terrill and Terry Hallowes.

Ronald Elliot's Mural not to be overlooked in The Pans either!

Back in The Pans, of course, the Trail passes right along the foreshore to the north of the Prestoungrange Gothenburg, our arts hub. There's been a John Muir mural there since 2003. Ronnie Elliot's present artwork replaced the damaged original, painted in 2003 by Kate Hunter - seen first here below which also emphasised Morrison's Haven's centuries old trading links with Sweden:

"The storms of 2010/ 2011 did a great deal of damage along the Pans shoreline and the victims included Kate Hunter's John Muir/ Gothenburg Mural which the Lord Mayor of Gothenburg, Sweden, had unveilied in 2003. So remediation and/or regeneration was required.

For the first time since the Murals Trail was launched a decade ago, simple restoration was not possible. The damage was too great. So the Prestoungrange Arts Festival confronted the 'big' decision which all ageing Murals Towns eventually face: do we replicate with a new artist, re-interpret the storyline from the original mural, or create a wholly 'new' storyline? After much deliberation it was decided to invite Ronnie Elliot to re-interpret. We all agreed that John Muir and the town's connections with Sweden's Gothenburg were vital elements of the stories recounted on our walls.

"Ronnie's 're-interpretation' still depicts a familiar John Muir but this time he's sitting holding a glass of Fowler's ale having just launched a paper boat containing a sapling onto a turbulent Forth. His accustomed horse stands behind him. At the far end of the river lies Gothenburg waiting to receive it with its modern cityscape. To the side the citation reads:

'John Muir, born in Dunbar in 1838, sent forth an idea which inspired the nation of America and indeed the world for generations to come.

The least we can do is stand him a pint of Fowler's!'"

... and indeed we do. From our own Fowler's microbrewery, to celebrate the 'new' John Muir Trail, a fine John Muir Tr'Ale is on offer, in bottles or on draught. Well worth another visit to The Goth asap.

Published Date: March 12th 2014

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