Craigton Community Garden
Craigton Community garden was a vision shared and driven through partnership between CRAG (Craigton Residents Action Group,) Glasgow Regeneration Agency’s South West Environmental Services (SWES) and Glasgow Housing Association with members of the Craigton community. A response to transform a derelict gap site dominated by a long standing history of antisocial behavior into a valuable, sociable and green community asset and to reduce local high levels of crime.
The Garden opened to the public in 2012 following many months of hard work and is now open as beautiful garden for the enjoyment and involvement of all local people in Craigton.
It is located behind Paisley Road West, entered from Barlogan Avenue and Barfillon Drive (The green triangle on the map – click on image to enlarge)
I was invited to give some artistic input into details the new community garden; to design two separate signs for the entrances to the Garden.
A beginning place: The historical context of Craigton
Craigton, or ‘Half-Way’ as it used to be known is exactly half way between Glasgow city centre and Paisley, south of Govan, north of Cardonald.
Until around 100 years ago the land it sits on was used as farm land and the grounds of a large manor house, called Craigton house. The community garden, is the development of the disused and vandalised shared communal garden belonging to some of the first original tenements in the area, built presumably to provide housing for people in Craigton, perhaps as a solution to over spill, as the population of Govan and Cardonald boomed with the success of the now derelict ship building Docks. The oldest remaining feature on the land is the old dry stone wall that snakes along the side of the Garden, pausing to allow traffic through Barlogan Avenue, and then continues cutting through the whole residential area. This wall is the remains of a boundary belonging to Craigton House. The earth that the community Garden grows on, was once the soil that nourished an apple orchard in this location, belonging to the house.
The first gate which is always to be closed, but it’s very publicly visible, is on a very busy main road, Paisley Road West. The second is the large opening gate on Barlogan Avenue.
Main entrance to the community garden, Barlogan Avenue
(Closed) entrance to community garden or Paisley Road West
Prior to beginning the design work I spent some time trying to gather for myself an image of the local area. I was interested in trying to understand the history of the area and how it had changed and developed in the past, just as it is now being changed and developed for the future. Craigton Primary School had celebrated their centenary the previous year, so I met with the head teacher and learnt a lot through reading the schools research and log book for the school, through the past 100 years. I also began to run an after school art class at the other local primary school, which helped me to connect with the place. I attended some of the local public meetings and through conversations with local people I was presented with many more facts and stories about the area.
I made a series of drawings for designs, ranging from aspects that hoped to reflect something of a reference to history to shapes that considered a slightly more contemporary invitation to enter the space.
The designs were displayed in the garden and discussed with the partnership groups leading the project.
The two key/most popular designs both reflect something of my research One design is much more playful and I have used the shape of an outline of an apple for the letter a, hinting at this original land use of the space, as an apple orchard. With adaptations of this design I also explored how different shapes and outlines of traditional gardening tools could be used to add detail and reference to the history.
The second main design is opposite in its use of bold capital letters making much more of a defining statement. With these designs I was interested in a fact that had struck me following some conversations with local people. This was that Craigton in many ways (perhaps due to the fact it’s not that old as a district of Glasgow) is not well-known in the city, and not well-defined. There is no where in the area that properly presents this name ‘Craigton’. It would be very easy to pass through on the way to Paisley, without realising this area was even known as Craigton. Yet, as so many people have now lived in this area for their whole lives, it appeared significant and important to them that they define this place. Perhaps, as one of the signs will be on the main road, Paisley Road West, it could be an important opportunity to name this area, publicly.
With this in mind, I began photographing traditional signs throughout Glasgow, and although I am aware that the purpose of the place is very different, I was drawn strongly to the Barras sign. It is in many ways incredibly familiar to people throughout Glasgow and holds a lot of significance in relation to an area that is rich in social history. I began re-designing the font used for this sign, figuring out how different letters would look and based my second designs on this.
Community consultation; first set of designs, March 2012
Following a community clean up event in Craigton, I presented my initial set of drawings, pinned to the old stone wall, within the garden. I encouraged all of the local people present to talk to me about which designs they liked/didn’t like etc, and as a means of recording and collecting their responses I passed around post it notes and pens, with which people could write-up their thoughts and stick the note to the relevant design.
Initial designs (with post-its, used for community consultation)
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Secondary designs (based on comments made on post-its at community consultation)
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Following a meeting to discus these next designs, the following 4 changes were made…
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The initial design was successfully fabricated in Steel and installed at the main open entrance on Barlogan Avenue in December 2012.
All are welcome to visit or get involved in the up keep and future of this attractive green garden…