'BEACHCOMBER' – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

At the very western end of a small cobbled stone lane in the capital’s New Town, a series of decorative metal panels enhance the side of a nondescript building. This is the work of local artist, Astrid Jakel and was commissioned by the group Essential Edinburgh to beautify an otherwise drab locale.

Together, they collaborated on a piece that would enhance the area and pay homage to the group known as the “Rose Street Poets,” who frequented the pubs in the area. The poem, Beachcomber was written by George Mackay Brown. The poetic verse with its maritime-themed artwork reads as follows:

Monday I found a boot –Rust and salt leather. I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.

Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob.Next winter It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.

Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits. I tilted my head.The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.

Thursday I got nothing, seaweed, A whalebone,Wet feet and a loud cough.

Friday I held a seaman’s skull, Sand spilling from itThe way time is told on kirkyard stones.

Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges. A Spanish shipWas wrecked last month at The Kame.

Sunday, for fear of the elders, I sit on my bum.What’s heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins.

The work of art resembles a paper cutout composed of metal. Jakel worked with Pentland Precision Engineering to produce this effect. Since it’s installation, the work was shortlisted for the Adrian Henri Prize for Poetry in Art in 2013 and for the Association of Illustrators (AOI) Awards in 2014. “Beachcomber” was supported by The Prince’s Foundation, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, and British Telecom.

Jaekel is also a collaborator for the Meadows Mural.

Rose Street was named by the creators of the New Town as a way to encourage the link between England and Scotland

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September 22, 2020

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