Decorators of Portobello

Art Walk Projects are really delighted to be able to announce the commencement of the second phase of their ‘Decorators of Portobello’ project working with artist Nicky Bird, from May to October 2021.

‘The Decorators of Portobello’ is a multi-generational oral history project seeking to create a lasting record of the working lives and social histories of a group of women (many now in their 70s or 80s) who worked as decorators in Portobello's Buchan potteries in the 1950s and 1960s, painting artwork on the various ceramics produced at the time. The project seeks to make visible previously unrecorded social histories for these women, using oral recording and archival photography.

Portobello was one of the main centres of industrial ceramic production in Scotland, dating back to the 1770s. The Buchan Potteries that served this site heralded a sixty year period during which vast quantities of stoneware goods of all descriptions were manufactured. Both utilitarian and fine painted earthenware was produced. Two pottery kilns in Portobello are the only two remaining kilns from across the whole of Central Scotland that are still in existence. No longer in use and normally closed to the public, the kilns are the only physical reminders of a once thriving manufacturing centre that existed in Portobello until the early 1970s.

The ‘Decorators’ programme taking place during 2021 will involve an exhibition, book publication, walks+talks, archaeological mapping events, and audio guide.


Read about 2019-20 Decorators Project with Nicky Bird (first phase of project): view here

See Arts Development Worker vacancy currently seeking applications for as part of this project: view here

top image: courtesy Mairi Fortuna

Decorators project 2020