THE MURAL PROJECT
With the 2009 observatory refurbishment well on track, the subject of the rather dull staircase in the library was brought up at a liaison meeting between AAA and Airdrie Library. Aileen Malone, secretary of AAA suggested inviting art students to paint the walls as her daughter was an art student at Grey’s School of Art, Aberdeen, and enjoyed projects that involved working in the community. The suggestion was approved by the AAA committee and the library.
Ian Brady, Head of the Fine Art Dept at Glasgow Metropolitan College was approached by Aileen and was very supportive of the idea.
The project took five months of research, preparation and planning. Class lecturer Margaret Ker oversaw the project with great passion. The students embarked on the mural design as part of their Two Dimensional Practice Unit. As the students had no previous knowledge of space matters, Aileen went to college and spoke to them about everything from famous astronomers, constellations, categories of galaxies, rocketry, telescopes and the space race. She also provided the students with books and magazines on astronomy and showed them the club's fascinating globes of Mars, Venus and the Constellations. This proved an excellent motivational experience to help them get started on their personal research and investigation of the subject.
The students were required to collect a large volume of visual information on the theme of space; they also had to fill four A3 sketchbooks and put together written and visual research on at least two artists who had explored an aspect of the theme.
Margaret requested that the walls be painted dark blue to provide a unifying backdrop so that the mural would flow as a single piece of art. Fiona McDonald, Community Librarian, organised a repaint over the Christmas holiday period.
On 21st January 2010, Aileen, Fiona and Arthur Ker (graphic designer and husband of Margaret) had a meeting with the students to discuss the ideas that they wanted to develop. One idea was selected from each student’s sketchbook to develop into a final image. Fiona and Aileen were delighted with the work they saw and the wide range of topics which had been covered.
Margaret approached Millers Art Shop and The Art Store who were happy to support the project and both donated specialist paint. The students also raised funds by having a home baking day at a stall in George Square.
Aileen and Margaret had a final planning meeting and arranged the proposed paintings in the most attractive and appealing order. The students had until 25th Feb 2010 to make their final submissions and presentations required for a pass in the Unit.
Finally on the 10th of March the students arrived in Airdrie for their first session. With another session on the 17th and a marathon session on the 24th the work was completed in time for the official re-dedication ceremony.
Airdrie Astronomical Association wish to express their thanks to Glagow Metropolitan College. The mural project could not have been as successful without the passion and enthusiasm of class lecturer Margaret Ker.
At the opening ceremony, two of the students Liam Dolan and Ania Jantos did the grand unveiling. Ania also painted a portrait of her Polish countryman, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus which Aileen was delighted to recieve on behalf of the observatory and AAA.
Aileen Malone, AAA secretary and AAA members Kirsty Campbell and Grant Sloan with the finished mural.