The story behind the #LivingWindow artworks
When I first went to Cumbernauld I was unprepared for how beautiful a place I’d find it. To believe the negative images portrayed in some past media would be a terrible shame. The Cumbernauld I now know more resembles the idyllic images conjured in the classic film ‘Gregory’s Girl’, with children playing outdoors exploring the landscape in the sun on lazy afternoons and evenings.
As part of the #LivingWindow project, six green spaces within the Cumbernauld Living Landscape area were chosen to be celebrated in contemporary artworks created by three talented young artists in Scotland, to be installed in the Antonine Centre and Cumbernauld Centre as a way of inspiring the public to visit them.
Each green space selected – Palacerigg Country Park, The Langriggs, Ravenswood Local Nature Reserve, Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve, Cumbernauld Community Park, Cumbernauld House Park – would have its unique character highlighted to the artist by each of the dedicated local community groups that care for them.
Over the course of July and August, we met with the groups connected to each site – Watch Us Grow at Palacerigg, Cumbernauld Village Action for the Community at the Langriggs, Cumbernauld Environmental Society and the British Dragonfly Society for Ravenswood, Friends of Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve, Friends of Cumbernauld Community Park and Friends of Cumbernauld House Park.
It was very impressive to hear the stories of how each of these communities have taken it upon themselves to take ownership of the green spaces, clean them up and make them safe and accessible for people to visit and enjoy once again. It has also been amazing to see how these green spaces have been the catalyst for regenerating the communities surrounding them.
Cumbernauld is one of the greenest towns in Scotland, with more than 50% of the town being green space, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear if it now has one of the highest proportions of plant and wildlife enthusiasts per capita too!
In my meetings with the community groups, the knowledge and pride that local people showed for their green spaces enabled the artists responding to the spaces to see deeper into the greenery and opened their eyes to the whole wonderful complex world of the different species of plants present as well as the rich history of the town.
As part of the #LivingWindow project, we were keen to pass on the knowledge and enthusiasm for the green spaces to the next generation by running what were incredibly fun workshops with local play schemes.
We took the children of Carbrain & Hillcrest Play Scheme to The Langriggs (the first time they'd ever visited) to learn about the history of these uniquely preserved medieval gardens. There they also learned about manipulating their environment to create a fantastic piece of environmental art.
With the children at the Cumbernauld YMCA, we ran a plant and wildlife photography workshop in Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve, where we encouraged them to look closer at the plants and explained how to identify as many different species within the Glen as possible.
It has been a great pleasure engaging with community groups across Cumbernauld to help inform the artworks, experiencing their wonderful green spaces and getting to know the people who care for them.
This work has culminated in the work of three artists – David Galletly, Emily Shepherd and Gabriella DiTano – whose task was to create something out of the ordinary within the shopping centres that would capture the imagination of people as they walk through and transport them to another place.
Each of the works they have created in their own way reflects the wonder of each of the green spaces which have really come to life since the public launch. We couldn't be happier with the end product, and hope you like it too!