Response Priming


Installed inside the watchtower at New Calton Burial Ground in Edinburgh, this collaborative work with Christine Borland draws upon oral histories directly and indirectly related to Edinburgh’s Trade Maidens Hospital. This historic institution was founded in 1704 to provide for the ‘board, lodging, clothing and education of the daughters and granddaughters of “decayed” tradesmen’ and had close connections to Edinburgh’s artisan and Incorporated Trades.

The resulting work is created from punched cards, as used on a Jacquard loom, on which are encoded these oral histories. Chains of the cards are suspended within the burnt out Watchtower of the New Calton Burial Ground, which was itself initiated by the incorporated trades of the Calton area. The circular tower is one of several such structures built in Edinburgh in the 1820s to address a growing problem with ‘Resurrectionists’, individuals who dug up recently interred (not yet decomposed) bodies and sold them to the Anatomy School for dissection, and provides a highly resonant site for the artists’ exploration of ideas around decay and dereliction from the 18th century to the present day.

A commission by the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013.
Installation View: Edinburgh Arts Festival 2013
Install viz