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Find out more about the sculptures at Midlothian Community Hospital.

Malcolm Lemmon

James McLardy

The installation process

Artlinks Director, Jan-Bert van den Berg gives his first hand impressions of James McLardys new, interactive, green oak sculptures at Midlothian Community Hospital.
One warm May day in 2010 I took a
drive out to Pencaitland - a lovely village not too far from here. I was looking forward to meeting up with Malcolm Lemmon, an experienced green oak craftsman, who had been working with lead artist James McLardy to cut and build a series of interactive sculptures out of green oak that had been sourced both locally and from the Roslynlee Hospital grounds.

 Connections to local history.

In talking further with James, it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into sourcing the right materials and approach. The oak used in most of the sculptures is a clear link to Roslynlee Hospital. James discovered early on in his research that the use of the grounds at Roslynlee had been very important to patients and relatives and wanted to use this as a link between the old hospital building, and the new one that was being built. These connections to local history and relationships in the area continued with the naval brass sculptures adorning some of the wooden structures. These are designed by the artist Claire Barclay and machined at MacTaggart Scott who has a long association with Loandhead Hospital. The Mac Taggart Scott Loanhead Brass Band has been entertaining patients and staff at Christmas time for an awful long time. The painted metal gates were designed in collaboration with staff and forged by local blacksmith James Fleming from the Cousland Smiddy, bringing colourful motifs of agricultural and industrial heritage into the courtyards.
Painted metal gates Courtyards

 A thoughful approach from local crafts people.

In June of 2011 the final installation of a large oak hurdle and metal archway took place. This involved lifting and manoeuvring large curved oak beams in place, then drilling bolting and doweling the structure securely in place. I am pretty sure that you will have noticed the sculptures and the earthen mound as you parked your car, sat on the bus or walked towards the hospital. These sculptures frame an area, that it is hoped will become a more formal garden over time which can be enjoyed by patients and relatives. The sculptures here also have function; the mound and oversized hurdle provide shelter from prevailing winds and weather, whereas the metal arch invites you to enter the protected area. The thoughtful approach that James brought to the project and the skills of local craftspeople Malcolm and James has created work that sits comfortably in their surroundings and at the same time providing a stimulating visual experience.

 The product of months of hard work.

Malcolm hires a large farm storage shed for his projects and I found him, James and some chickens hard at work. It is always a delight to see REAL craftsmen at work and having a keen interest in how things are put together I was looking to get some tips on construction Of course I wasnt just out there on a whim, all this sawing, sanding and doweling was the product of months of hard work by James, that had seen him researching the local area, the histories of Roslynlee and Loanhead hospitals, and doing an awful lot of talking. The designs that James produced were a reflection of what he had found out; local skills, connections with the area and its history and the input from staff and patients can all be found back in the sculptures which you see in the courtyards and outside the hospital. Working in this way made sure that the artworks could both suggest a function whilst bringing a coherent visual addition in the courtyards and grounds.

Jan-Bert van den Berg Artlink Director

The project was carried out by Artlink on behalf of NHS Lothian Capital Planning & Projects. Artlink establishes partnerships with artists, venues and organisations to help transform lives.

 A link between the old hospital, and the new one that was being built.
Naval brass sculptures Courtyard sculptures

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