Dallas–Pierce–Quintero

The Big W

‘The Big.W- A Public Art Plan for Winchburgh’ is a vision for how public art can help shape the £1 billion development of Winchburgh, near Edinburgh. Working with local residents, West Lothian Council Planning Services, Community Arts services, the Winchburgh developers and their design team we have envisioned a series a projects that can form part of this transformation in the medium to long term future.

Strategy document
Strategy document
Strategy document
Strategy document
Strategy document
Strategy document
Strategy document

The first half of the document collected together the historical research, explorations and first-hand conversations carried out over two and half years. The 347-hectare masterplan was explored on foot and through drawings, and interrogated to find potential artwork locations for future projects; the nine key sites were identified with the community. The document incorporates a series of recommendations for a site-specific approach to public art in Winchburgh. We distilled the research into a number of important themes that resonate with Winchburgh and that we will form the inspiration for future art projects.

Engagement workshop
Engagement workshop
Engagement workshop
Timeline charting the history of Winchburgh

Encouraging new contemporary public art commissions is the basis for encouraging people to experience West Lothian as a place that inspires, challenges and includes those who live, work and visit the region. The second part of the public art plan establishes mechanisms for achieving this aim from 2017 until 2024. Building on the research in part one, it identified a series of principles, potential sites and types of art that would enhance Winchburgh. The strategy proposed a series of project briefs for specific sites throughout the current village and future masterplan, and outlined the best practice required to implement these.

Strategy map

To kick-start the public art plan for Winchburgh we were commissioned to create a site-specific installation for the public square within the first phase of the town centre. We felt that this site is well suited to tell the story of the shale oil industry to local people, regardless of whether they have recently moved to the village or are born and bred in Winchburgh. The brief for the artwork called for a piece of sculpture that can be used informally for seating in conjunction with other more conventional seating in the immediate area.

Aerial view of Winchburhg and the shale bings
Landscape at the top of a shale bing

“Having climbed a bing, one feels removed from the everyday reality – the horizon is shifted, the world looks smaller and the view goes as far as the Firth of Forth and beyond.”

Dallas–Pierce–Quintero
Bing sculpture proposed for the new town square
Bing sculpture proposed for the new town square

The form of the piece has been inspired by the three oil shale bings that surround Winchburgh and that act as both guardians of this very important part of local history and a very impressive and sensuous landscape to visit. Their strong colour, the barren peaks and scarce vegetation sets them apart from their surroundings. Their recognisable shape gives them away as artificial heaps – poured, not grown out of the ground. The proposed sculptural seating takes the same approach, heaping layers of red brick upon the flat landscape of the new public square, creating a form reminiscent of a shale bing.

 

Winchburgh, Scotland 2014- ongoing
West Lothian Council

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