The Castle Mills EPscope is a public realm invited commission from Edinburgh Printmakers (EP) to celebrate the opening of their new £11m home, once the HQ of the world famous North British Rubber Company (NBRC), exploring the rich heritage of the building, and the history of the surrounding area.
A collaborative commission between Colvin (artist), O’Leary and Smith (architects) to create a permanent artwork integral, both physically and conceptually, to the fabric of Edinburgh Printmakers new home the old North British Rubber Company Headquarters in Castle Mills in Edinburgh. The research question proposed was how to create a public artwork which would both visually and physically integrate the historic dimensions of the building with its’ contemporary purpose as arts hub whilst referring to the creative, industrial and architectural heritage of both organisations (including a reference to the popular public ‘viewing platform’ into the old EP Workshop in Union Street).
The research process initially gathered historical documents and artefacts discovered in the derelict NBRC building and the NBRC archive in the Ewart Library in Dumfries, such as examples and documentation of the objects created in the heyday of the rubber factory. These were subsequently re-interpreted as visual elements which refract and collide through the viewing scoop on the ground floor café to present an infinity of patterns through the building that are at once obtuse and accurate, as memorial contained upon and within a structure which functions as a synthesis of sculpture, kaleidoscope and periscope.
The structure, constructed from steel, printed and milled black rubber and mirrors, the EPscope, stands at 6 meters tall. One turn of the wheel brings to life a myriad of re-imagined archival images that refract and collide with warped images of the print studio above to create an abstracted infinity of patterns that are at once obtuse and accurate, like a memory. The creative outcome thus presents a visual dialogue with the inner life of the EP workshop, connecting the first-floor print studio with the public spaces below and emotionally connecting the industrial past of the building with its creative future.