Botanical Roundels

Botanical Roundels - Mary Bourne with Historic Environment Scotland apprentice masons

How many people think twice about a leaf? Yet the leaf is the chief product and phenomenon of life: this is a green world, with animals comparatively few and small, and all dependent upon the leaves. By leaves we live.

Sir Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning
Riddle’s Court, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh
Client: Scottish Historic Buildings Trust
Collaborating organisation: Historic Environment Scotland

This education project was commissioned to create a physical, visual link from the Lawnmarket on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in, through two courtyards, to the entrance of 16th century Riddle’s Court. Patrick Geddes’ famous phrase “by leaves we live” was taken as the inspiration for the project which involved carving a series of botanical roundels to be set into the paving between the street and the building’s entrance.

The following elements were involved in the project:

  • Visit to P4/5 at Ballater Primary School in the town of Geddes’ birth in rural Aberdeenshire to teach the children about Geddes and his philosophies (SHBT Education Officer)
  • Observational drawing session with these pupils in local woodland, identifying species and looking at their specific characteristics (Mary Bourne)
  • Carving taster session for the pupils (Mary Bourne)
  • Work with three Historic Environment Scotland apprentice masons to design and carve the roundels with reference to the children’s drawings (Mary Bourne), including:
    – Visit to Allan Fraser Mortuary Chapel in Arbroath to see high quality botanical carvings
    – Consideration of selection of species (native Scottish species and species from countries where Geddes worked)
    – Drawn designs and cast maquettes, presentation boards.
    – Presentation of designs to client and architect at Riddle’s Court in Edinburgh
    – Carving of designs
    – Communication of process to pupils at Ballater by e mailed photographs, and visit to school with final roundels to show pupils how their work had been of help and to talk about Geddes’ international links (Mary Bourne + apprentice, Ross Kennedy).

This was the first time the apprentices had been responsible for designing as well as carving stonework.

Roundels to be installed, Spring 2017.

Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels
Botanical Roundels