On Wednesday afternoon, in a previously dull and damp underpass in Greenock, things were different. There was a warm glow of light, the bustle of people gathering, carols playing and festive cheer. The event was the official opening of the Westburn Underpass featuring our most recent work 3573 Oak Leaves.
As the more acute among us might have guessed, among other things, the artwork contains 3573 oak leaves (at least that is the total we got when we counted – we figured that anyone willing to count them all is welcome to correct us if we have it wrong!).
In our research for the project a few things caught our attention. The name Greenock among other things has become entangled with Green Oak (apparent folk etymology), this is something that is reflected in local shop and place names. The Westburn Underpass is the main pedestrian links from the bus station to the town centre. We wanted the artwork to reflect both the transient nature of the space as well as the deep rooted history in the town itself. And, as in much of our work, we wanted to reinforce a local sense of belonging and pride in place. This matched with carefully selected lighting solutions creates a space that is in the words of Reg Gove from Lightfolio “…a destination worthy of note rather than simply a transit space…”
“Great oaks from little acorns grow” 14th century proverb
As part of the project, we asked the people of Inverclyde to nominate 50 Local Heroes and the final list includes famous individuals from history to contemporary locals who are valued (from parents to painters). These names have been integrated into the artwork and form the acorns of our oak tree. Places are more than bricks and mortar and what makes a place “Great” is the people who live there.
Sophie Hearl with her Grandfathers medallion
The client, Riverside Inverclyde, put on a great opening event for all Local Heroes and contractors. Bubbly and some great food was provided for the group of 70 or so invited guests. The official opening was done by Provost Michael McCormick and the ribbon cut by Carrie Gibson (one of the Local Heroes and Everest Summiteer)
All our surviving Local Heroes were presented with a medallion by the Provost to match the embedded plaques in the ground or on the wall as a memento of the day.
A few big thanks need to be expressed to all who made this such a great project for us to be a part of.
Geoff Gregory of Riverside Inverclyde
Martin Tabor and Christine Schehle of architects LUC
Willie Meikle, Brian MacAlister & team at Landscapes and Contracts
Reg Gove and Ian Walker at Lightfolio
Adam Knight at Elektoled
Mike Marshall at Jet Cut
Jane Robinson at Cutting Technologies
Paul McAlindon & boys from Cutting Edge Fabrication
Duncan Macrae & Scott Aston of Aston Shotblasting
finally thanks also to Eric Forbes (Liason Officer) and all our Local Heroes!
Westburn Underpass before work began…
… and after!