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Scintillators

TOBY PATERSON

The works I have made for Chalmers and Carrubbers Closes aim simultaneously to accord with the environment within which they sit and to elucidate it. Titled Scintillators, these faceted, reflective forms borrow the scale and materiality of objects added into the Closes; brackets and stanchions, signs and spandrel panels, air conditioners and security apparatus, architectural metalwork and vents. However, in side-stepping any apparent function, they act as non-prescriptive points suspended within the visual field defined by the close as a route, a passage both between and through potential destinations.


The basis of my work as an artist has long been predicated on a visual engagement with the built environment. As my looking has become more sophisticated, I increasingly find value in the identification of small, often easily overlooked, details that might serve as compact analogies for a much wider set of conditions of place.


When we consider the Closes of the Old Town of Edinburgh, these often appear to us as negative space, both in architectural and experiential terms; they frequently smell grim, are claustrophobic or threatening or have a distinct ‘back-of-house’ feel to them. In short, they are spaces to be endured only for the shortest time possible in order to reach one’s destination efficiently as opposed to taking more circuitous yet picturesque routes. In that sense the closes themselves are condensed metaphors, exposing many of the truths that underpin the lives of the city.


The Scintillators shift that focus further in, exposing the complexity of these meaningful spaces in a way that crystalises their fragmentary nature while planting markers that advocate for a recognition of their significance.