New flats to spell end for much-loved seaside mural

A MURAL that has graced the wall of a building for almost 50 years is set to be wiped off the city's arts map.

Tuesday, 30th May 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 7:51 pm
Mural on a building on Horne Terrace, Edinburgh is at risk.

The striking piece, depicting a colourful seaside image, was painted by former Edinburgh College of Art teacher Robert Callender in Horne Terrace, Fountainbridge, around 1970.

However, by early next year, the artwork will be covered by a new four-storey block of flats which is currently being constructed next door.

Professor Andrew Patrizio, who specialises in Scottish visual culture and art history, has studied the work of late Mr Callender in detail.

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He said: “This mural was one of Robert Callender’s earlier pieces of work.

“He very carefully studied the sea and the shoreline. He was interested in the different colours and reflections.

“But his work isn’t just pretty paintings of the sea, they are scientific and he paid attention to sea debris.

“His later pieces of work included plastic bottles and litter that could be seen lying on a beach.”

He added: “It’s a shame it is going to be covered – I’d rather see a mural than a block of flats. It’s nice to walk along a street and see art on the walls.”

Robert Callender was born in Kent in 1932 and died in July 2011, in Fife.

After a period as a student of medical illustration he moved to the Department of Painting at the Edinburgh College of Art, where he became an artist. Later, he went on to mentor younger students.

His work aimed to employ an exquisite level of precision to explore the relationship between environment, inhabitants and the coast.

Craig Dyet, site manager of the new development on Horne Terrace, which will boast 11 new flats, said: “The mural won’t be completely covered until around February or March next year. It’s quite a slow process.

“The new flats are going to be the same height as the building the mural is featured on.

“Over the past week or so there’s been loads of people walking by and stopping to take photographs of it. It is a shame it will be covered as it is quite unusual. I’ve even taken some photographs of it myself.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “I go along Horne Terrace most days by bike on my way into the City Chambers and I’ve often wondered about the history of the mural.

“For a long time, it has been partly hidden by the workshops on site until they were cleared recently to reveal the full gable wall.

“Although the painting has suffered a bit over the decades it is still obviously a striking piece of art.

“I’d love to see a picture of it when it was first painted, as well as find out why it was painted in that particular location.

“Looking forward it would be good if the new flats could be built in such a way that the painting is protected for decades to come and that developers AMA seek to photograph it, perhaps to show in nearby Fountainbridge library.”