As one of their first projects at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), a group of 90 first year students had the opportunity to collaborate in creating a collective map of Edinburgh. The resulting work has now been publicly displayed in Meadowbank by creative out-of-home agency Jack Arts.  

The students created the work over two sessions as part of the Drawn from the City elective, where their task was to build a collective map of their experiences of the city. Students were split into four groups, with the first session focused on walking tours to different parts of the capital, gathering sound, sketches and snapshots. These collected materials and introductory objects were arranged in the studio, and students were encouraged to respond to them through drawing. Each group then worked on top of the previous group’s sketches, creating a cumulative draft of the finished piece.  

The second session started with a blank, ten-metre-long sheet of paper and inverted photocopied fragments of their original charcoal drawings. Students began to cut and collage onto the plain paper then experimented by adding negative space marks, layering and tearing – representing the shapes and texture of the city – with sound and forms all informing the piece.  

A photograph of a student sketching outside during a walking tour of the city
Image: Edinburgh College of Art
Drawn from the City: Students were led on walking tours exploring different parts of the city

"“From one student’s vision of the immovable Castle Rock as evidence of glacial time to another student’s recording of an overheard fragment of conversation, this map gives us a glimpse of a group of disparate individual responses during a single day in September 2019 of this place we, and now they, call home.”"

Gordon Brennan, Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and elective organiser

These activities were a chance for both students new to the city and those more familiar with Edinburgh to explore and introduce themselves to it, while getting to know their fellow students at the same time. This emphasis on working collaboratively is an example of the working practices in the first year of BA (Hons) programmes in art. 

Gordon Brennan, Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and organiser of the elective, adds “Most maps are constructed from an individual, privileged perspective, whereas this map had no single author and no fixed perspective. The resulting work was a form of experiential map, where layers, time and traces were overlaid to create a map based on collective experience. We encourage students to question authorship, to question the relationship between the individual and the collective, and to be able to contribute to the bigger picture; this parallels our role as individual citizens contributing to the shaping of communities.”

Photograph of students sketching in the studio, drawing on sheets of paper placed on the floor and walls.
Image: Edinburgh College of Art
Students busy sketching in the studio responding after walking tours and from the prompts placed around the space
Close up photograph of the finished map displayed outside at Meadowbank.
Image: Edinburgh College of Art
Close up of display

To create the display, the map was digitally photographed and stitched together and then printed on a ten-foot hoarding on the development at Meadowbank by Jack Arts. Previously, Jack Arts have collaborated with ECA creating bespoke building hoardings which dressed the scaffolding during the Main Building refurbishments in 2017.  

Jack Arts' are pleased to be partnering with Edinburgh College of Art once again, supporting Drawn from the City, as part of an ongoing creative display project at their unique site at Meadowbank.

"The collaboration champions creativity and culture on the street, supports emerging local creatives and provides a powerful platform for young artists. We are so impressed with the work the students produced and delighted to use our sites to display the engaging final piece to the public." 

Drawn from the City is on display until 2020 and can be found on the corner of Wishaw Terrace and London Road in Meadowbank.

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