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War efforts from rubber factory remembered in new sculpture

War efforts from rubber factory remembered in new sculpture

Brightly coloured architecture surrounds a singular black Wellington boot.

On a small square within the Bainfield halls of residence, the new sculpture lies.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

The boot, which is based on the modern Wellington boot, has fallen on its side to reveal a footprint modelled on the original First World War hobnail boot.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

An imprint on the war and the local community

The boot lies in the centre of a block of student accommodation, land which was once home to The North British Rubber Company.

Established in 1856, the factory was for a long period of time, one of the largest employers in Edinburgh. At one point, it has 8000 people working in the development and manufacturing of Wellington boots, car tyres, hot-water bottles, and even traffic cones.

via STV via STV

A new sculpture has been revealed to remember the soldiers lost during conflict and recognise the efforts factory workers at the former North British Rubber Company had during both wars, especially during the First World War when the factory made millions of pairs of rubber boots for the British Army, which in turn helped to reduce trench foot.

via STV via STV

Artists Maja Quille and Svetlana Kondakova were commissioned by Edinburgh Napier University to create the sculpture, and have been working on the piece of public art for the last six months.

  (© Kondakova & Quille)
via STV via STV

This is the second sculpture for the pair in the area following the installation of the nearby ‘Tree of Knowledge’ in 2014, with the pair leaning on local group NBR Wrinklies to build the narrative around the art.

“Every decision we took mattered,” Maja, 34, said. “We did a lot of research about the rubber factory and found the Wellington boot so interesting given the significance it had during World War One.

  (© Kondakova & Quille)
via STV via STV
  (© Kondakova & Quille)
via STV via STV
  (© Kondakova & Quille)
via STV via STV

“When we spoke to NBR Wrinklies, we realised the rubber factory was really important not just to the area but also that most people who worked there, really enjoyed working there so we thought it was important to commemorate that. It left an imprint on the area.

“We found a picture in an old army book so we made an exact replica then scaled it up. We then had a structural engineer who worked with us to make sure it was totally safe then we created it in steel and had it galvanised and powder coated and the imprints were stone carved.”

The Edinburgh College of Art graduates created the commission at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Newhaven and were delighted when a large crowd of students watched as the installation was moved to its new home.

Hundreds of student rooms look out onto the circle grass centre from the newly-built accommodation and Maja says she feels it is fitting to have a reminder about the historic significance the area previously held.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

“We went on site quite a lot of times - we wanted something that was in style and not too stark a difference to where we were putting it, but we also wanted it to represent the First World War and have a clear link to that," Maya said.

“It was trying to walk the balance between old and new. It was about remembering.”

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

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