Toby Paterson: The Sociology of Autumn (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

Toby Paterson: The Sociology of Autumn

Striking Patrick Geddes inspired installation

The publicity material may well call this new installation a 'micro-landscape that invites reflection on Patrick Geddes' observations on the city, in the context of Chessels Court and the High Street today', but there's no question that it must already have been referred to – and will be referred to again – as a big bus shelter; one without a road or a timetable to call its own. That's no insult to the work, because the Glaswegian artist Toby Paterson's interest in the built environment includes an interest in modernism and in the more functional, utilitarian constructs which make up a landscape.

So a sculptural installation which reflects upon and memorialises Edinburgh's Old Town may well involve a bus shelter, given that the area has become a small transport junction for the city; the only complaint would be that there aren't actually that many bus shelters in the Old Town. Otherwise, 'The Sociology of Autumn' reflects upon a different aspect of the area's design, the small, hidden green spaces which Geddes – the Aberdeenshire-born town planner who revived this area in the late 19th century – sequestered away behind the main thoroughfares. The leafy green courtyard of Chessels Court is one of the most striking of these and Paterson's structure asks for repose and reflection.

A light grey metal frame, it has no walls or ceiling, and the materials used appear to introduce a splash of modernist influence to the courtyard; shaped concrete benches and a wall of concrete squares, as might be found in a post-war Scottish New Town; a roughcast red-harled wall of the sort which lengthens the life of old buildings to unique aesthetic affect; and a bench of the same pale wood which clads new build bespoke arts centres and office buildings. The resonances of each material somehow democratise this exclusive space, and with the structure cemented into the ground, it seems appropriate to wonder if it might be staying.

Chessels Court, until Sat 27 Aug, free.

Toby Paterson: The Sociology of Autumn

  • 3 stars

Toby Paterson has a strong interest in the built environment, and in particular, the approach to architecture and public space which emerged in post-war Britain, inspired by modernism and the utopian ideas which underpinned it. Many of his projects emerge from extended periods of time spent directly observing and…