Showcase: A Thoroughly Modern Girl

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Conceived as a piece of site specific work, A Thoroughly Modern Girl is part of an ongoing series to be installed in public locations as a response to the multitude of dead space within urban Edinburgh. The works range from single boards to multiples carrying illustrative and text-based commentaries on their chosen site and surrounds.

In the case of this piece the site is the by now defunct, and much maligned, State Cinema on Great Junction Street, Leith. I have long admired this building’s façade as one of only a handful of examples of art deco architecture throughout the city.

The image of the girl was taken from an Escher woodcut (Girl With Flower) of the same period as the building (1930). At the core of his original work is a wistfulness and suggestion of transience, marked by the innocence of youth. She is shown in the height of fashion of the day, with bobbed hair and a geometric patterned dress akin to the avant-garde textiles of Sonia Delauney. The piece is contemplative in nature, with the underlying subtext of youth, beauty, longevity and mortality, symbolised through the use of a Spring flower.

I replaced the flower with a Saltire to have this wistful deco girl contemplate an idea, re-directing the viewer toward issues of identity, whilst retaining the original idiom of transience through the choice of contemporaneous decaying venue.

Again, true to the original this work is a woodcut. Albeit scaled up by around 200%, the girl is cut from a single standard metric sheet of oak veneered 18mm MDF 2440mm x 1220mm. She is made entirely of vertical cuts (other than the flag) scored into the face of the board with an angle-grinder.

If the work were to be inked up you could take a print from her in the same manner as the original.

On-site Installation

Former State Cinema, Great Junction Street, Leith

A Thoroughly Modern Girl has been exhibited at The Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh (2011) and recently she was successfully installed in her rightful home on Great Junction Street, in collaboration with National Collective.

” target=”_blank”>Click here to watch a short film of the installation.

She will be making a cameo in my upcoming solo show Out of Line, as well as guest public appearances throughout the coming year in the cities of Scotland.

Jim Arcola