Illustration Collaboration 2

In a series of posts, we are delighted to share the artworks that third year Edinburgh College of Art illustration students created in response to texts by our Citizen Writing Group.

Lucy Szundiova

Night and Day by Dave Pickering

Following last week’s Citizen session I had plans to visit some of my favourite places: Lauriston Castle, Newhaven harbour, Cramond foreshore, the Botanic Gardens … unfortunately life got in the way, as it often does …

My wife’s sister is very ill. She has cancer and is her condition has now advanced to the stage where she is beyond treatment other than pain relief.

After a spell in hospital, she was allowed home. I could add two words to that last sentence to drive home what it really means, but just now it is still too raw, too real.

We visited her yesterday, and talked about many things: holidays we had spent together, children, grand-children, politics … but not about health, or pain, or life and death. Too raw, too real …

It was early evening and already dark when we got home, and I must have fallen asleep in my chair almost immediately.

I woke at 2am, my wife sound asleep on the sofa. Straight away, my head filled with all the thoughts and worries that had been there before I had fallen into that exhausted sleep. My head was pounding: filled to overflowing, spilling over. I knew that there was no point in going to bed to try to have a normal night’s sleep – that would be impossible.

Yutong Lu

Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight, but I put on my coat and shoes, left a note in case Caroline woke up when I was gone and headed out. I would go for a walk to clear my head.

On closing the front door I quickly realised I had perhaps made a mistake. It was a foul night, but then the darkness matched my mood.

During the first lockdown my exercise regime included a daily walk along the cycle path that runs behind my house. I would walk down to the red bridge at Crewe Toll and home again. Maybe a twenty minute stroll, nothing too demanding. And when I say my exercise regime included a daily walk, that walk WAS my exercise regime.  Every day. Or maybe every other day, then.

Anyway, despite it being pitch dark, despite the howling wind, despite the lashing rain – or maybe because of them all – I headed for the familiar cycle path.

Places take on a different character at night and the cycle path was transformed from a mundane walkway that tinkled with cyclists’ bells by day into a whole new Hellish world by night. Yes, there were streetlights but they were fighting an impossible battle against deep, deep darkness and a relentless, driving rain. And that wind, howling in my ears and bending those massive trees. Magnificent, exciting weather … and when I think back on it now, all thoughts of illness, pain and loss had gone – and so had my headache.

Frantiska Jiraskova

This was a special darkness that reset the senses. I couldn’t see my feet and I was walking on memory, plodding on as the roar and the whistle of the wind tore through the trees in crystal-clear surround-sound.

It was hard to make anything out with any certainty as my glasses were steamed up and a quickly-sodden handkerchief could do nothing to clear them. I was even more certain now that I really shouldn’t have left the house and I turned, completely drenched now, to head back.

I was hugely surprised – and just a little frightened – when I saw a man walking towards me, illuminated as a watery silhouette by the street lights. He was walking a dog. I did feel vulnerable, but then I was surprised whenconcerns about social etiquette kicked in.

It must have been nearly three in the morning. I’ve got to acknowledge this man’s presence. What could I say to him? Just ‘Good morning’? It didn’t seem enough, somehow.

As he drew level, I managed: “’Morning” but his stride didn’t falter and he never took his eyes off the path. It was as if I wasn’t there. The dog, too, a big dark beast, showed no interest and kept it’s head down as it scurried on.

I stood and watched for a while until they disappeared into the gloom. Ships that pass in the  night. A very stormy night. God help those poor souls out at sea, I thought as I turned for home …

I went back to the cycle path the next day. There were some reminders of the night before night – the wind gusted sometimes, but not with the screaming power I had experienced just a few short hours ago. Some broken branches. And there were some impressive puddles. But the sun was shining and the sunlight was dancing off the puddles as they rippled in the breeze.

A bright new day.


We are extremely grateful to the Third Year Illustration students at Edinburgh College of Art, and Harvey Dingwall for making this collaboration possible. The Citizen Writing Group is part of Citizen, our flagship communities project which is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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