#GreenFests Highlights: India Street at Gayfield Creative Spaces

22nd August 2014

Creative Carbon Scotland’s blogger-in-residence Allison Palenske shares her thoughts on Gayfield Creative Space’s current exhibition, “India Street,” one of four finalists for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.

As a newcomer to the Edinburgh creative crowd, Gayfield Creative Spaces has already made its name known as a leading gallery/studio space/showroom in the city. Their summer creative programme offers proof that there is plenty going on in the green arts world to base an entire season’s programme on these artists and discussions.

Showing in the creative hub’s “Whitespace” gallery, India Street is a multipart exhibition inspired by The Bombay Sample Book held in the National Museum of Scotland’s collection. The Bombay Sample Book contains fabric designs from Scotland’s bygone Turkey red dye industry. The exhibition’s title comes from the India Street in the Vale of Leven, the former location of one of the largest Turkey red dye fabric factories. India was the largest export market for this business, linking the Indian and Scottish markets for many years.

Lokesh Ghai for India Street

The ideas included in the India Street exhibition reflect the social, environmental and political climates from 1800 to modern day. The artists in the exhibition were asked to respond to pieces in The Bombay Sample Book, making modern interpretations of the patterns. The pieces produced in the exhibition range from arrangements of chilli peppers- an essential ingredient in the Indian, and now British, kitchen- to a scene depicting Ghandi’s visit to Darwen in 1931.

The themes discussed at India Street reach beyond environmental sustainability, falling under categories of social and economic sustainability as well. Part Two of India Street will see the artists in the exhibition travelling to India to learn from local producers and craftspeople, eventually culminating work for another textile exhibition. Lokesh Ghai, co-curator of India Street, anticipates the designers will respond differently after learning from the Indian craftspeople, implementing handcraft skills much more than the digital techniques present in Part One of the exhibition.

Aside from the excellent craft displayed at India Steet, the entire Gayfield Creative Spaces venue is an excellent example of sustainability, as ‘upcycling’ and creative reuse are at the core of the creative hub. Gayfield Creative Spaces founder Dr John Ennis converted the former tyre depot building into the multipurpose space that it is today, repurposing much of the material left from the building’s tyre depot days for the current needs of the building. Ennis explained to us that his interest falls within design and well being, using ideas from case studies of creative hubs in Holland and America to shape the space.

Beyond India Street, Gayfield Creative Spaces is also showing work from artist Carol Sinclair in Fragments, as well as Piet Hein Eek, Laura Spring, Geoffrey Mann and Timorous Beasties in Garden Party. The entire Summer 2014 Creative Programme at Gayfield is incredibly rich and shows much promise for the future of this venue.


India Street runs Thursdays to Sundays from 2 August to 11 September 2014. The exhibition is nominated for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.

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