Month: February 2013

Artist in Residence Blog Post # 1 – Finding a route into the complexities

by Jennie Speirs Grant, ECCI Artist in Residence

“Finding a route into the complexities….

involved in an artist’s residency with ECCI I seem to have spent a fair amount of my time during these first couple of weeks in an observer’s role, attempting to map out the range and extent of what the Centre is about and starting to meet people, organisations and departments. Having just come to the end of a research project at the University of Sunderland focussed on the structures of drawing and their translation to sculptural glass I’m happy to be back in an environment where issues of complexity are welcomed.

JenniestudioI’ve realised that desk sharing in the office may prove to be a little more problematic but probably fortunately for all my actual contact time at ECCI is mainly concerned with connecting up information and researching supporting material. This will of course be re-considered and worked with in a more physical studio context. JennieStudio6

Currently this process involves absorbing information ranging from the intricacies and variability’s of carbon accounting (ICARB), the underlying aims and philosophies contained within BREEAM building specifications, visualising information through core modelling and projections, and discussing cultural shifts in terms of landscapes, expectations and behaviour change. Back in the studio the materiality of carbon based processes is already helping to anchor some of the more abstract concepts involved. I also find myself unexpectedly interested in measurements of time and space – of which more later… “Jenniestudio2

Find out more about Jennie’s project.

And look out for regular updates on the blog.


Man Trips Over Outside ECCI’s New Building – Experts Blame New ‘History of High School Yards’ Poster

Well, not really, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take…

Passers by can now delve into the fascinating and sometimes gruesome history of ECCI’s new building at High School Yards courtesy of the giant at a glance ‘History of High School Yards’ infographics just installed on the building site.

Mary Queen of Scots and Sir Walter Scott share the billing with tales of murder, mystery and…well, the invention of the blackboard.

Take a walk to High School Yards and see it with your own eyes…

And just to whet the appetite…

It started life as Blackfriars Monastery in the 13th century, turning up the murdered body of Mary Queen of Scots’ husband in its ruins 300 hundred years later.

As the 18th century ‘Royal High School’, while Burke and Hare went about their sordid business in the adjacent Surgeon’s Square, it boasted Sir Walter Scott and the inventor of the blackboard James Pillans as its most famous pupils – the former reportedly leaving his mark in the stone entrance archway (pictured).

After the ‘Old High School’ closed in 1829 it became a surgical hospital and later it returned to its roots as a seat of learning as the University of Edinburgh moved through its corridors in various guises with the Science & Engineering, Geography, Dental school and in latter years Archaeology departments all calling it home.

More information:

If you would like to arrange a visit contact

ECCI’s Artist in Residence takes up her post

ECCI is celebrating the appointment of its first Artist in Residence this week.

Drawing and sculpture specialist Jennie Speirs Grant will spend the next 10 months working with the Edinburgh Centre to produce a series artworks that make a connection between art, culture, science and business, using ECCI’s work within the context of carbon, environment, innovation and sustainability to guide her.

The appointment comes courtesy of an award to the University of Edinburgh from the Leverhulme Trust. The Trust supports the residency of artists in UK institutions to foster creative collaborations between the artist and staff and students. The scheme is intended to bring artists into research and study environments where their artistic form or creative art generally is not part of the normal curriculum or activities of the host department.

Carbon Narratives

Speirs Grant often tackles abstract concepts in her work, breaking down ideas to their core constituents in order to understand, reinterpret and reimagine their meaning. She will use this experience in the context of current carbon related debates, exploring established practices like drawing and glass sculpture and carbon in its many material forms, from graphite to diamond.

The timing of the residency also overlaps with ECCI’s move to its new purpose designed low carbon building at High School Yards. Recycled material from the new building project may also feature and finished works will be on display in the building when it opens in Summer 2013.

Speirs Grant said:

“I very much look forward to working with ECCI and using this time to engage with the complexity of carbon related issues. This is likely to involve combining the physical materiality of carbon with the more abstract concepts surrounding it. By considering a variety of Carbon Narratives I hope to be able to locate this work within its changing cultural and conceptual landscape. “

Scots can change the world says Harvard Professor

Scottish economists, engineers, entrepreneurs & innovators can be the world changing force in the battle against climate change, according to a professor from Harvard Business School. But they must act fast to encourage a transition to low carbon technologies and behaviours, warned distinguished professor Joseph Lassiter.

Lassiter sent out the rallying call to 600 business leaders, academics and decision makers in attendance at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation’s event series last week, calling on them to make use of Scotland’s greatest resource – ‘Scots’ – to overcome the challenges of climate change.

Lassiter’s cooments were featured in an article in the Scotman by business correspondant Peter Ranscombe.

Lassiter said: “Scotland’s greatest asset is the Scottish people. Scottish innovators like economist Adam Smith have changed the world in the past and this latest challenge presents contemporary Scots an opportunity to do the same.

“Scotland has the engineering expertise built up over two centuries and the natural resources to lead the charge in future energy technologies. But Scots must act fast to ensure that higher energy cost technologies like renewables are a viable energy option in the face of equivalent cheap fossil fuel energy sources such as brown coal.

“Only by developing carbon markets and encouraging carbon taxes like border tax adjustments (import fees levied by carbon-taxing countries on goods manufactured in non-carbon-taxing countries) can Scotland protect manufacturing jobs in Scotland and encourage investment in these new, low carbon technologies.”

The call to action came as Lassiter delivered the first distinguished lecture to Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, the body set up by First Minister Alex Salmond and SSE chief executive Ian Marchant. Lassiter was invited to Edinburgh to take part in the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation’s Clean Energy & Entrepreneurship event series, attracting 600 delegates from business, academia and government organisations. Professor Lassiter then took part in a  boardroom debate chaired by Dr Andy Kerr of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and which included Ian Marchant Chair of the 2020 Climate Group, John Swinney MSP Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, Wendy Alexander, Associate Dean, Degree Programmes and Careers Services at London Business School and Charles Hammond CEO of Forth Ports.