A monument celebrating the life and work of Patrick Geddes has been unveiled in the public garden of Sandeman House, off the High Street, in the Old Town of Edinburgh.
Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a Scottish polymath, thinker, and visionary. He is best remembered for his innovative approaches to town planning and, in particular, the foundation of an ambitious urban renewal programme in Edinburghâ€™s overcrowded and dilapidated Old Town. In the 1880s and 90s he pioneered the principle of â€˜conservative surgeryâ€™ by implementing sensitive improvements to living conditions, while retaining the existing character of historic buildings.
This process included restoration, redevelopment, integration of cultural and community facilities, and the formation of open spaces and gardens. The gardens provided daylight and sunlight as well as islands of peace and contemplation. It is very appropriate therefore that the monument has been located within this tranquil landscaped urban setting.
Hunter has adopted a traditional garden feature of a bust on a plinth, but has re-interpreted the form in a contemporary manner. The bust takes on Geddesâ€™ characteristics and personality while avoiding an idealised representation. The plinth takes the theme of pollination in the form of a stack of sculptured bee-hives. The artist explains: “Geddes studied and wrote widely on bees and would have appreciated more than most their vital role on this planet. I gravitated toward the expressive potential of the beehive both as a functioning plinth and metaphor. The beehive evokes his life, work and the dissemination of his ideas.”
The project was sponsored by Creative Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh World Heritage, as well as many other trusts and individuals. EWH contributed Â£10,000 in total to the project development and implementation.