Borders mosaic map revealed at Eildon’s Wilkie Gardens
Tenants at Eildon Housing’s Extra Care development, Wilkie Gardens in Galashiels, witnessed the ‘big reveal’ of a beautiful mosaic map situated at the entrance to their building.
Created by local artist Joy Parker of WASP Studios, Selkirk, and part-funded by a community benefits project for Eildon and Cruden Building Scotland, the impressive artwork celebrates the history of Wilkie Garden’s unique location on the former site of Langhaugh Mill.
Joy was inspired to show the lines of the river, the roads and the railway line amongst the swirling contours of the hills around.
She said: “It was a real pleasure for me to work alongside some of the tenants at Wilkie Gardens on this project and introduce them to mosaic art with some hands-on workshops. That way I could hear their stories, many of them linked to the mills and the rich history of the town.
“My idea was for viewers, when looking at the mosaic, to feel the wind in their faces as a tawny owl hoots by, and to simultaneously wrap themselves up in the comfort of their heritage. The main product that was once made at the Wilkie Gardens location, the former Langhaugh Mill, was the Royal Stewart Tartan Scarf. And on that scarf, are the words “and follow my love thro’ the water” which comes from Gala’s best loved ballad. And of course, this map would not be complete without Soor Plums, Gala’s Coat of Arms.”
A place is always connected to other places, but at the heart of a town are its buildings. Depicted in this map are the spooky 16th century remains of Buckholm Tower, the new star-shaped building that houses the Tapestry of Scotland, and the beautiful and moving war memorial. On the other side of the river there is Abbotsford Mill chimney, the last remaining mill chimney in Galashiels.
Next to this is a burst of colour inspired by the work of textile artist Bernat Klein, to represent Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design, formerly the mill that Klein worked from. At the far-right lower corner of the mosaic is the ‘A’ status Netherdale Sports Complex designed by the prestigious modernist architect Peter Wormersley around 60 years ago. The map remembers the past but also looks to our future.
Alan Cowan, one of the tenants at Wilkie Gardens, said: “It’s great to see all the landmarks of Galashiels on the mosaic” and Violet Donaldson another tenant who spent her life working in the mills and for Bernat Klein, said how much she had enjoyed attending the mosaic workshops, and was very impressed with the work that had gone into the map.
Eildon’s chief executive Nile Istephan was full of praise for the work that Joy has done for the benefit of the tenants at Wilkie Gardens.
He said: “Joy is a real star. It is an absolutely wonderful piece of mosaic art, which brings the rich textile history of the Borders to life. We are extremely grateful for the time she has taken to share her craft, and now we have this impressive colourful creation to enjoy for years to come.”