'Edinburgh Suburb 8am' by Tracey Unwin
This painting was born from a series of photographs taken from the balcony of a third floor flat just south of Edinburgh, where I was at university studying for my Master’s Degree (in Animal Behaviour).
The block of flats was a rather uninspiring 1970s structure in the midst of a slightly run-down residential area. At first glance it did not look like the kind of place I would be able to take beautiful photos. However, in the quiet moments of early morning and dusk, I discovered that from the flat’s tiny concrete balcony it was possible to capture some stunning images. In the evenings, huge flocks of gulls travelled overhead, back to the sea after a day of scavenging on churned up farm fields. The dynamic yet peaceful pictures and videos I took as the birds soared above were entirely detached from the dreary setting below. The sunsets were dramatic too, and even managed to make the dusky buildings beautiful.
In the winter mornings before the day fully arrived, the sunrises could be spectacular too, and I loved the effect of the silhouetted house with birds swooping overhead – an interesting contrast of action and stillness. If I had a spare few minutes while getting ready for the trip to my campus at the foot of the Pentland hills, I would dash out to the balcony and click away with the camera until my fingers started to go numb and I realised I’d be late for the bus.
One evening I made a watercolour copy of one of my favourite shots, which then sat inside a sketch book for seven years until I found it in 2014 and decided to make a full-sized painting out of it. ‘Edinburgh Suburb 8am’ is a simplified version of the original photo, and I decided to paint the buildings with very clean, tidy lines in order to convey the stark impact that the scene first had on me as I stood shivering on that tiny balcony.
Written by Tracey Unwin
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