The Edinburgh Cabinet,RBGE wych elm project

I have made a number of chests of drawers over the past three decades,  all characterized by the sculpting of their handles from the solid of the drawer-fronts. The layout of the drawer handles has taken various forms on the different chests (see the post entitled “Chester draws”  of a year ago) but the idea behind “The Edinburgh Cabinet” is that the carved form represents the iconic Edinburgh skyline seen from the viewpoint where the wych elm itself stood as a living tree in the Botanic Gardens.


Apart from the obvious candidates, from Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags and Calton Hill on the left to Edinburgh Castle and its esplanade on the right, I have tried to capture the feel of the roofscapes of the Old Town, its spires and chimneys, (Auld Reekie), and of the tree canopies of Stockbridge (with St Stephen’s  Church) and the Botanics itself. ( It will be apparent that the representation is more about the impression than any literal depiction). Sadly, due to lack of space, (or motivation?), I have had to omit the magnificent vista that is the St James Centre.

It has become usual to speak of using the timber of a tree as a way to extend the working life of that tree –  in the best instances for decades, if not centuries. The Edinburgh Cabinet  takes a significant step beyond this to explicitly link the piece itself to the source of its material. It imagines the tree, the Botanics Wych Elm, looking out over its environment as it would have done in its maturity. Thence arises the notion of “The Self Unseeing” as an alternative title for the piece.


These are a couple of photos taken by Edinburgh Evening News photographer Ian Georgeson which might have been (but weren’t) used with the feature the paper ran Thursday Oct 22nd; many thanks to Ian for sending me these.

We got a kind mention on a blog from across the Atlantic

Many thanks for that.



One Response to “The Edinburgh Cabinet,RBGE wych elm project”

  1. sairfecht Says:

    hi chris…posted links and info on my above myspace site!

    best wishes


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