Image: Courtesy Irene Forbes, circa 1950s
A new book by Nicky Bird, with Mairi Fortuna, Irene Kozok, Barbara Naughton, Irene Forbes, Pat Banyard
The Decorators was one of Nicky Bird's projects featured in her solo show Legacy at Street Level Photoworks earlier this year. The project, based in Edinburgh, centred on Portobello’s distinctive bottle kilns, which are now the only physical remnant of a once thriving ceramics industry. The voices of the women, who painted the distinctive thistle design on pots at the celebrated Buchan pottery, have remained largely unrecorded until now. In this new book, Nicky Bird celebrates five of Buchan’s former decorators, through their own words, personal photographs and other memorabilia.
The Decorators of Portobello: In their own words aims to provide a lasting record that draws attention to a group of women’s working lives at a point in time when we have an increased sense of the important of place and industrial heritage. The book is a culmination from a two year residency (2019-21) with Nicky Bird, as part of Art Walk Projects LandMark residencies, which centred on the role of place and the shaping of community, to consider local sites of value, in particular relating to Portobello’s working land and industrial past.
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