Artist Ettie Spencer has responded to the project with her proposal for a ghostly installation on the surface of the Whiteadder Reservoir.
Not many people know about the school and farm buildings which are now hidden at the bottom of the Whiteadder Reservoir.
In 1968, a quiet corner of the Lammermuirs was transformed forever with the single turn of a valve, opening the floodgates and flooding the valley to a depth of 60ft – ending the life of Kingside school and Millknowe Farm houses. Whiteadder Reservoir was opened to meet growing demand for water supplies and to provide the 650,000 gallons which would be required for the new Cockenzie Power Station. Kingside School opened in 1892, when a shepherd’s cottage was given as a teacher’s house and the byre turned into the schoolhouse and served the children of families from surrounding hill farms.
Deep below the surface of the reservoir are the remains of past lives displaced as the world above it changed. The illusion of the ghostly buildings that once were central to those peoples’ lives is as powerful as any history story.
This artwork will draw attention to the beauty of its surroundings as the floating, luminous, white, ghostly ‘houses’ catch the light as they swing with the wind, reflecting the sky and the water. The house facades will be weighted to float upright in the water and will drift and move with the wind. The whole installation will be tethered near the centre of the reservoir.
By evoking the past in this way, such an image may also hint at present and future times as our own lives are changed radically as we face the climate crisis, mass displacement of peoples, the move away from rural living and the resulting disengagement with the natural world.
Ettie Spencer is a Scottish-based artist. Her work explores what is to have a sense of place and how we, the human race, can fit creatively into the natural world. You can find out more about Ettie’s work here: http://www.ettiespencer.co.uk