Oor Torry Arts Project
It involved the local community in creating their own bronze casts for future generations to enjoy. Tullos is an area of Torry, a suburb of Aberdeen, with the area taking its name from the Vale of Tullos which lies between two hills. Tullos derived its name from a corruption of the Gaelic ‘Tulach’ meaning a hill. Tullos Community Centre is situated near the slopes of Tullos Hill (Torry Gramps), an area or heath and woodland which is also the location of many archeological sites ranging from the Bronze Age to World War II.
The weekly workshops over a two-month period were developed and delivered by Aberdeen City Council’s Arts Development Team. The adults received training in bronze casting at the Scottish Sculpture Workshops (SSW). They were then able to take on the role of mentors to the pupils, offering advice about how to go about creating their own designs ready for casting. The final collaborative design was taken to the SSW by the adults during a weeklong residency, and there they developed large moulds to be cast in bronze. The casts are about two feet in diameter and depict elements of the natural world and Torry landmarks. The young people also visited SSW and documented their design being developed. Also they were able to cast their own small pewter pieces. The climax at the end of the week was the ‘bronze pour’. The resulting bronzes were exhibited in Aberdeen Art Gallery, as part of an exhibition, ‘The Printed Word’, before being installed outside the entrance of Tullos School.
‘Oor Torry’ involved a range of partners, including Aberdeen City Council’s Arts Development and Community Learning and Development teams, the SSW and Fairer Scotland Funding. It was part of a larger scheme called Room 18, which involved workshops at Tullos Community Centre and elsewhere in the community, designed to inspire residents from Torry to work together on arts projects to improve the area. The project was showcased at the city council’s Children’s and Young People’s Awards for ‘Neighbourhood Working’ and at a local intergenerational conference as an example of good practice in working directly with the young people.
“This has been an excellent project, bringing children and older adults from the community together to create pieces which will be an inspiration for generations to come. The completed items are very beautiful and an asset to the community.” Aberdeen City Council Education, Culture and Sport Director, Annette Bruton.
“A project like this shows just how active the pupils at Tullos School are in the community. The children and the adults have created something constructive and permanent which makes a real contribution.” Education, Culture and Sport Committee convener, Andy May.
“This has been a marvellous project that has really enthused everyone. This kind of artistic activity brings great benefits by developing experiences in both craftsmanship and teamwork. I am very pleased with the excellent results of the good work.” Vice-convener Councillor Martin Greig.
Stakeholders and Funders
Children in Scotland managed the national pilot project of the Arts Education in Practice Professional Development Award – a new SQA accredited qualification for arts practitioners who work in either formal or informal education and community contexts in Scotland. The pilot project was supported by the Scottish Arts Council and Aberdeen City Council was involved from the outset in the steering group who planned the course, seeing a vital role for such a course in preparing artists for working in the community, and for ensuring communities get the quality ‘cultural experiences.
Mandy Clarke, an experienced Community Arts Officer, was one of nineteen arts practitioners participating in the pilot. The bronze casting project was devised as part of her work developed with the Torry Community and chosen as her work based learning project. During this time she investigated her own art form and practice with the context of Arts Development work.
- sense of shared pride in achievements.
- sense of the project in a team effort, and looking after and listening to each other
- building confidence through encountering a wide range of artists working in a range of media who treated them as equals.
Quotes from participating adults
“Thoroughly enjoyed mixing with the kids and knowing their views.”
“Loved working with the power tools.”
“I was surprised at the respect our ideas were given.”
Quotes from the young people:
“I liked working with older people making the tree.”
“I enjoyed the bit at the workshop where we saw flames and everything.”
“You’ve got to be safe with tools.”
“I learned you can make something beautiful out of something quite small.”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you are ‘good at art’ – it is about expressing your feelings.”
They all agreed that it had been like working with friends and in fact, they had become more like a family. One young person summed it up: When I pass ‘Oor Torry’ it reminds me of everybody.
The adults have stayed together as a group and are currently working on stained glass. The arts worker is seeking funding for further intergenerational activity as they are all keen to take part in another project.