Artist in Davy lamp tribute to war dead

David Paterson's lamp features 105 poppies for each life lost. Picture: Gordon Fraser
David Paterson's lamp features 105 poppies for each life lost. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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An East Lothian artist’s work in memory of his great grandfather, killed in the First World War, has “come home” as part of a tour of Midlothian’s libraries.

Amateur artist David Paterson, from Macmerry, created a 5ft tall Davy lamp in tribute to John McGuff, a miner from Arniston.

The piece, made completely with recycled materials, has 105 poppies cascading from it, to represent the 105 people, including his relative, remembered on the Gorebridge War Memorial.

The tribute piece is currently on display at Gorebridge Library, just yards from Mr McGuff’s Engine Square home.

David is delighted with his work, although it remains untitled.

He said: “It hasn’t got a name. I would just call it ‘the miner’s lamp’.

“It’s made completely from recycled material – car parts, a bit of down pipe, parts of an extractor fan, roof slates.

“All the work I make is made from recycled waste.

“But, when it is put together, it’s hard to recognise. I’m particularly proud of it.

“John grew up in Engine Square, just next to the library where it is currently on display.

“It was great to produce something in memory of a family member. It’s not a piece of work for sale or anything. And there is a poppy for each person on the war memorial, 103 men and two women, so 105 poppies.

“I believe it’s an important piece of work, very poignant.”

David hopes to have the piece placed in a permanent spot before the Remembrance events this year.

He said: “It was used for the spring exhibition at DAME [Dalkeith Arts and Music Events] this year.

“From that, Dalkeith Library suggested it went on a tour of the Midlothian libraries. It’s still to go to Lasswade, Penicuik, Newtongrange and Loanhead, spending two weeks at each one.

“I have got an idea roughly where it’s going, it’s still to be confirmed. The intention is to have it permanently placed before November 11.

“My mum seems to have taken quite a shine to it. It’s very important to her.

“She has been over to Le Havre to visit the grave, a couple of years ago.”

David’s mum, Mary Flynn, said of her grandfather: “He left a family of five sons who all went on to work in the pits. Hence the connection with the Davy lamp.

“It’s great that the piece is now ‘home’ in Gorebridge.

“It’s quite an impressive piece of work, with a really poignant story behind it.”

David, who is currently exhibiting work at Cockenzie House, hopes to have the Davy lamp on show in East Lothian.