Inverleith Allotments
By Shona McEwan

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Year
1993
Media
Watercolour
Subject Matter
Domestic and Home
Reg. Number
L120
Size
61 x 77.5 cm

This sunny watercolour shows one of the allotments in Inverleith, close to Edinburgh's Botanical Gardens. The profusion of flowers and fruit and the untidiness of the structures suggest a summer garden - and possibly a relaxed owner who enjoys growing colourful flowers rather than "useful" vegetables! Red and yellow flowers and leaves in different shades of green dominate the foreground, though the flowers and plant are impressionistic rather than exact botanical representations.
The allotment contains both wooden sheds and glass houses. The solid huts in different shades of brown and the transparent greenhouses (and assorted panes of glass piled against the huts) make good use of both the translucent and the opaque colours available to the watercolour artist. The garden sheds suggest a garden which is permanent and well-cared for. However, there is something in the uneven shapes of the sheds to the right and overgrown shed on the left which may indicate a ramshackle, make-do-and–mend quality – a feature of many allotments! The windows and frames piled haphazardly also contribute to that effect, leading us to wonder if the greenhouse and the smaller glass frame are still being constructed. The trees and higher vegetation in the background show that there are other allotments around this one, while the view of the distant hills also helps to establish its geographical location.

Born in 1969, Shona studied Printed Textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, and graduated in 1991. She works at Fife Council as a support worker in a social work care centre, and is involved with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival annually. Shona is also a Communications Officer at Adult Protection Committee, aiming to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination, bringing an artistic slant to her work. She has a strong interest in art for public places and has produced art for children’s wards and young offender institutions. She has always enjoyed pattern, colour and texture and her bold colours and forms are intended to cheer public spaces.

Shona comments: "Since moving house in 2011 I've now at last got my own garden, and along with my seven-year-old daughter, am discovering the joy of planting seeds and bulbs and watching things grow”