Glasgow-born artist Toby Paterson discusses his 2017 commission and its connection to Patrick Geddes, against the shadow of Chessels Court.
For 2022, we mark the 75th anniversary of the founding year of the Edinburgh festivals. Coinciding with this moment we are delighted to install a sculptural element from Toby Paterson’s work, The Sociology of Autumn (from our 2017 Commissions Programme), as a permanent work within the entrance to Chessels Court, on Canongate.
In 2017, we invited artists to reflect on two important anniversaries for our city: the foundation of the Edinburgh festivals in 1947, and the publication in 1917 of sociologist and town planner Patrick Geddes’ The Making of the Future: A Manifesto and a Project. Separated by a generation, both were born directly out of the experience of global conflict, and a strong belief that artists could play a critical role in helping societies to imagine new and better ways of living.
Paterson’s work was developed for Chessels Court, a tranquil close associated with Geddes’ network of green spaces in the Old Town, and today entered from the Canongate through an arcaded frontage designed by architect Robert Hurd in the 1950s. The close was recently refurbished as part of Edinburgh World Heritage’s Twelve Closes project. The work borrows its title from Geddes’ 1895 essay of the same name, in which Geddes finds ‘in Autumn its secret: that of survival yet initiative, of inheritance yet fresh variation’.