The Helen Crummy Memorial Sculpture; ‘Let The People Sing”
Designed And Sculpted By Tim Chalk 2014
Background Notes By Tim Chalk
I have a special interest in Sun Sculptures and Sundials, and have used the progression of shadows in sculpture for both symbolic and visual effects in many of my recent works. This sculpture has the symbolism of sunlight and illumination at its heart. It tells a story of inspiration which, once it has illuminated people’s lives, is reaffirmed and renewed on a daily and annual basis.
The Sculpture takes its inspiration from the story of Helen Crummy’s request to the school for violin lessons for her son, and how, when this was refused, she and other mothers set about organising musical activities themselves ... and the rest is history. Taking the mother and child playing a violin as the central motif, the sculpture aims to maximise on the symbolic nature of this image and its importance to the Craigmillar Festival Society story. A mother hands her child a bow, providing him with the means to develop his creativity. Standing in a south facing open doorway, sunlight pours through to open up new horizons, symbolised by the image of Craigmillar Castle, the venue for so much local cultural activity, sitting amongst books and clearly visible through the doorway.
THE SHADOW THAT CHARTS THE PROCESS OF CONSTANT RENEWAL - To enhance the feeling of illumination by sunlight (and to provide an effect on all those days when the sun doesn’t actually shine!) the shadow cast by the boy is etched into the surface of the plinth - but this isn’t just any shadow. Marking the day when the first Craigmillar houses were opened on the 17th September 1930, every year on that date at 12 noon the actual shadow of the boy will fall on the surface of the plinth to correspond with the etched shadow. The etched shadow contains text which explains this.
THE WIDER STORY - To tell the wider story of the Festival Society and the people involved, the surface of the door carries relief panels modelled by local adults and children; very appropriate to a work celebrating Helen Crummy and the Craigmillar Festival Society.
THE INSCRIPTIONS - In addition to the panels, the open door carries the quote “History will be made when the People play their part”, and the arch carries the celebratory inscription “Let the People Sing”, both quoted from the writings of Helen Crummy. Further quotes appear on the pages of an open book lying next to the Castle; “Craigmillar now; a fine place to be”and “Women tap the creative well”. All round the edge of the plinth run the words: “The beauty of Craigmillar lies in the strength of its people”.