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Andrew Crummy's Transportation at Prestongrange - Virtual and On-Sea

What has been the most controversial mural of all so far for the Prestoungrange Arts Festival now proudly gazes north across the Firth of Forth on the baronial seawall; and can be viewed virtually below. Controversy has raged around its location, always intended to be on the Museum's BathHouse Wall as shown virtually below but never having made it there!

The story began with friendly discussions and understandings at Greencraigs that settled on a five year exhibition on the BathHouse Wall followed by a successful formal Application for Planning Consent to East Lothian Council. But all this goodwill reckoned without the subsequent cultural perspective provided by the Council's Cultural Services Manager who, speaking as an Officer of the Council 'claiming to be de jure Owner of the said BathHouse' declined to allow the painting to commence on 'her' wall.

Option 1 was to spend a goodly time seeking to reverse that decision but an informal meeting at Haddington convened by the Provost indicated no intelligent scope for progress indeed quite the reverse. A series of contrary planning decisions were in fact quite deliberately orchestrated within the next three months for two further proposed murals.

Option 2 was to paint the mural on the seawall and whistle while we worked! And so it came to pass that the mural was accomplished. And for those of us who still relish the notion of that BathHouse mural, this virtual projection gives us all our proper opportunity for its true appreciation on the said BathHouse wall.

Click on image to enlarge

Having manifest such churlishness... it must be admitted it also looks rather splendid where it stands on the baronial seawall, with the rocks in the foreground. It adds to the collection of three already there and there are more to come.

Click on image to enlarge

For the record, the Mural's Tale is given below:

Transport at Prestongrange

Painted October/ December 2002 by Andrew Crummy

The internationally renowned artist, Andrew Crummy who lives in Cockenzie writes:

Since the beginning of October until well after Christmas I spent at least two days each week painting my Transportation at Prestongrange mural onto the seawall owned by The Baron of Prestoungrange. The wall faces the beach opposite The Gothenburg. Between tides, rain, wind and cold, I have grown to consider the wall as ‘my office’.

It is an experience I have found most especially rewarding but mainly because of the many conversations and thumbs up from passing Panners, tourists and other lovers of the fantastic scenery that Prestonpans is blessed with. As the mural progressed the conversations became longer, often talking about the rich history of Prestonpans. We talked about issues ranging from who built the wall to the coal shortage of 1947; from the people who worked in the Prestongrange industrial site to how the passing trains made all the washing dirty; from local artist Wullie Coull to how the murals have travelled the world through the internet; and where the winkles go when taken from Prestonpans shore. All this and much more.

The people who walk their dogs became my conversational regulars. “My pal in Australia found the mural on the internet” shouted a man walking his dog. “It is fantastic that our history is travelling the world!”. “When are you going to finish the rest of that wall” asked another. Quite a few doubted that the mural would stay on the wall. But we are optimists and we have the technology. As we have been using a specialised paint that is actually soft stone, which petrifies when painted onto the wall, we are reassured and confidant that the mural should be there for quite a few years, although all will of course need regular maintenance.

The mural is based on 21 photographs of Prestongrange’s industrial heritage using the theme of transport to tell the story. The central portrait is of David Spence, who founded the museum and is truly a local hero even though his vision at times seems to have got lost. He is surrounded by trains, boats, trams, horses and pulleys, and by images of men, women and children hauling and carrying coal as was their wont long ago.

It has been a privilege to have been invited to create the work and I now regard myself as a fully qualified member of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival and will be involved a great deal more in the years ahead. My mural is the sixth to be painted and the programme is now looking towards August 2006 when the Global Association which inspired murals at Prestonpans has pledged to hold its 5th Global Congress at The Gothenburg just atop the seawall.

Published Date: March 6th 2003

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