They might be more Wild West than Wester Hailes.
But totem poles are to become a familiar sight in the Capital as part of a new interactive arts project.
Community group WHALE Arts is to create a 15-foot carved pine totem – known as a “memory pole” – which will use cutting-edge technology to record people’s memories of Wester Hailes.
The pole will feature quick response (QR) codes – commonly found on bus shelters or in adverts – which passers-by will be able to scan with their mobile phones and find out more about the social history of the area.
And there are plans to roll out more totems throughout the area.
Co-director of WHALE Arts, Allan Farmer, said: “The Totem will be carved with a design agreed by the community, and the mobile codes will be found in amongst the carvings.
“People will be able to scan the bar codes with their phones and find out more about the social history of Wester Hailes at our Facebook site or at the website www.talesofshings.com .
“They will also be able to go on to the web and add their own experiences.
“We are also looking at having QR codes for a ‘what’s on’ so people can find out what’s going on in the area.”
The first memory pole will be designed and carved by mid-February.
WHALE Arts is taking the lead in the project, which has also been supported by the Edinburgh College of Art – offering its expertise for the QR codes – The South West Neighbourhood Partnership, Wester Hailes Library and Prospect Community Housing.
“As far as I’m aware nothing has been done that allows you to leave your memories anywhere in the world – certainly nothing the researchers with the Edinburgh College of Art are aware of,” said Mr Farmer.
The function of the Wester Hailes memory pole is in keeping with traditional totem poles. The monumental sculptures were a feature of American Indians and recounted legends, clan lineages or notable events.
“The project is definitely gathering momentum,” said Mr Farmer.
“We’ve run a series of workshops at the library to help people get to grips with the technology surrounding the idea and we have had a couple of workshops centering around the design for the pole.
“Once the design has been chosen the carving will begin at the end of the January.
“We will be inviting members of the community to join in with the carving of the totem and then it will be put in place in a location of their choice. We hope this pole will be the first of many in Wester Hailes and they will eventually form a social history walk and public arts trail.
“I’d like to think the idea will eventually be expanded elsewhere in the city.”
To get involved, call WHALE Arts on 0131-458 3267 or to find out more visit www.whalearts.co.uk.