Inspired by Zen

Commission for Grassroots Public Art, 2010

Armadale, West Lothian


A sculpture garden with three sculptures, Flying Crane, Tsuru and Bonsai, was commissioned by the Sunny Dale Association, a committee made up of local residents, in conjunction with West Lothian Council for Grassroots Public Art.

Christie was commissioned to provide a tranquil, relaxing space in the unused garden of the Mayfield Community House, a community support centre. Drawing on Japanese Zen concepts, she designed a permanent garden linking the front and back of the community house, interspersing the green space with works of sculpture. Stones from the local quarry were used throughout the garden.

Armadale is an ex-mining town known for brick manufacturing and its quarry. Flying Crane highlights the town’s distinctive industrial heritage by enlisting the support of the last remaining brick factory to produce special bricks for the sculpture. Children from the local community helped to create the work and inscribed the clay with the names of local people involved in the project. As a ground sculpture, it also acts as a multi-functional platform for performance, community activities and gatherings.

Tsuru is Japanese for a crane bird, which symbolizes health, peace and longevity. The sculpture depicts a young crane enjoying its perch on a rock while the mother bird provides supervision, drawing on the idea of the garden as a family space.

Bonsai is a miniature tree installation in a hollow tree stump; a metaphor for Armadale’s regeneration process.

Feedback from the community steering group:
‘Our artist, from the first day we met, demonstrated a high level of passion, tenacity and commitment towards the project. Our experiences in the project as a whole can be summed up in the following words:

• Educational
• Emotional
• Motivational
• Enlightening• Inspirational• Creative
• Spiritual’