Wire Up and Finish Painting sounds like a new DlY magazine but is in fact a design workshop run by two young artists. Judith Finlay and lain Irving. Theirstudio in Edinburgh's Canongate Venture is filled with a bizarre collection of brightly patterned objects salvaged from junk yards. Some ofthe busily patterned sculptures resemble


In an unlashionable spot between Lothian Road and Fountainbridge. the new city fire station is nearing completion. in a style remarkably unusual in Edinburgh

Built from pale-coloured ashlar and brick, it replacesthe granderVictorian structure in Lauriston Place. designed for horse-drawn appliances and Victorian stabling. The new building combines a horizontal emphasis with semi-circular contours and an untussy use of materials which feels very

19305. ‘We wanted to go back to square

one ofthe modern movement and almost start again.‘ explained the designers. ‘to absorb Edinburgh‘s past style without imitating it.‘ in fact the fire station breaks with some modern traditions. It has a proper facade and a change of material torthe sides in the manner ofthe fine masonry lace of Edinburgh's Adam buildings. with their


With the Fire Service as the client. the building had to be designed for

Cami-industrial and hard-using wear—

‘itcouldn‘t be twee‘. In the choice of



3-D cartoons. Other‘installations' double as decorative art and functional furniture. An illustrated catalogue gives the various creations personal names and describes the materials used. ie: ‘Leon is a floor lightthat is lluorescentand shakesa lot. Found object O Steel 175mm x90mm x 96mm.‘

materials— metal. ashlar. brick and steel. it shares some of these basic properties. appropriate to the training facilities it incorporates. It has achieved this without being aggressively modern. finding a way

1 forward in the middle ground,


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Crazy-paving. bay windows. privet hedges . . . Suburbia is often considered the graveyard of good taste. Attitudes range from the gentle mockery of Betjeman to the bitter invective ofOrwell‘s hero in ‘Coming up forAir‘. who describes his street as ‘a line ofsemi-detachedtorture chambers‘. But isthis blanket condemnation fair? Perhaps it is time forafresh look atthe suburbs—after all, they are home to three quarters of the British population.

The lnteriorDecoration ofthe Suburban Villa 1880—1940 atthe Collins Gallery eloquently demonstratesthe powerolnostalgia. Organised by the trustees of the Silver Studio. this exhibition putsthe Hunterian‘s related display ofArt Nouveau1885—1910into context when increased leisuretime andthe growth ofhire purchase schemestransformed the ordinary home. A treasure trove of diverse ornaments. fabrics and furnishings suggeststhatthe insides of the despised outer metropolis were far from drab uniformity.

Yet. wallpaper. which had to be frequently replaced because of the dust from coal fires, emerges as a remarkable barometer oftaste: blue and gold were all the rage in the 18908: soft pinks and greys flourished in Edwardiantimes: imitationtapestry prints were popular in the 203 whereas cubist designs in browns. orange and green adorned fashionable rooms in the 305. Some ofthe excessively florid cabbage and bourbon rose patterns make one feel a little queasy. but there are some delightful Silverdesigns. such as an 1891 wallpaper of angry frogs standing in a lily pond wearing grass mini-skirts.

The exhibition also demonstratesthe peculiarBritishtalentforadapting

somewhere between an uncompromising ‘aeroplane aesthetic‘ and a backward-looking vernacular approach. which would not have been appropriate either. After all ‘we couldn‘t have put up a fire station

looking like a block of Marchmont

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historical and foreign motifs for home consumption. There are medieval tile designs. linoleum patterned like Persian carpets. Japanese dining room friezes. Neo-Jacobean needlework linens. cotton prints inspired by Mid-European folk art and a wide range of reproduction furniture. As many of Arthur Silver's designs were sold to well-known Glasgow manufacturers. the Collins have added a Scottish

veg -’ 'fr mainly on North London suburbs. with Templeton and Stoddard carpets. Wylie and Lochhead shOp catalogues. original Nairn lino-blocks and a watercolourofa1928 Bearsden villa.

Foradded periodflavourihere are some choice extracts from magazines and brochures. A19303 advertisement foran Aga cooker reads: "Children are safe. . . servants are cool and unflustered. "I do love the Aga." says the Reverend Motherfrom a conventin Essex. “look atthe difference in the pastry. .


Tollcross Fire Station. designed by the DepartmentofArchitectural Services atLothian Regional Council. cost £1 .7m. It will be opened by Malcolm Rifkind. the Secretary of State forScotlandinApril.

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