A special event was held this week in Winchburgh to celebrate two art projects linked to the fascinating history of the community.
The joint public launch for the ‘It’s a Bing Thing’ public art installation and the ‘Kitchen Conversations’ oral history and creative writing project took place on Thursday 19 September.
The public artwork was a joint project from West Lothian Council and Winchburgh Developments Ltd, while Winchburgh Community Development Trust managed the Kitchen Conversations project with funding support from the National Lottery’s Awards for All grants.
The ‘Kitchen Conversations’ project offered women living in Winchburgh the chance to come together and share life stories which they crafted together to create an original publication. The women come from a range of backgrounds, cultures, ages and experiences, all interested in making Winchburgh a great place to live for current and future generations.
A male perspective primarily dominates written and photographic records from when Winchburgh was founded back in 1169 with women’s voices rarely heard. However, their contribution as wives, mothers and daughters, particularly in relation to the home environment, was vital to successful growth of these industries and the community.
Dr Catherine Mills of Stirling University said: “Kitchen Conversations expands an establish body of knowledge bringing important new dimensions to the history and heritage of the oil shale industry and its communities.
“It focuses on the story of Winchburgh told by its womenfolk and opens a window onto home-making, family and community both in the present and in the past.”
Project writing development officer Valentina Bold added: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of this important project working with the knowledgeable women of Winchburgh to understand this remarkable community, now and in the past.”
The ‘It’s a Bing Thing’ public art installation was designed and created by architects and artists team Dallas Pierce Quintero as part of an overall strategy for public art in the area. It represents the first step in a wider plan of works to be commissioned in future as part of the wider programme of development.
The artwork is a playful sculpture that doubles as a seating area for the new civic square, inspired by the landscape of Bings around Winchburgh and the disappearing Niddry Castle Bing.
The artwork also includes a poem inscribed around the edges of each tier of the artwork penned especially for Winchburgh by Scottish poet William Letford. It is credited to Billy Letford in recognition of the author’s father and grandfather, who were both miners and went by the name Billy.
Executive councillor for culture and leisure Dave King said: “It’s great to see another fascinating piece of public art for West Lothian.
“Winchburgh is a growing community thanks to a landmark deal involving the council that will deliver massive investment in new schools, new homes and vital infrastructure to transform the village.
“Developers are required to make a contribution to public art in the area, which pays for artworks such as this.
“The combined sculpture and practical seating area should improve both the look and amenity of the Winchburgh’s civic square for the whole community.”
John Hamilton, CEO, Winchburgh Developments Limited added “We’re delighted to see the outcome of the first of Winchburgh’s new art installations by Dallas Pierce Quintero. Winchburgh has a rich heritage in culture and art, which we look forward to continuing to support in the coming years.”