Media Release: Zero to Fifty – the Road Bridge Diaries

IN the year the Forth Road Bridge turns 50, a new exhibition running at Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, captures one woman’s very special relationship with this iconic structure, revealing it from some unique and challenging perspectives.

Zero to Fifty: the Road Bridge Diaries is the culmination of renowned landscape artist, Kate Downie’s commission as artist-in-residence at the bridge.

The exhibition, which launches on 9 August, will be a highlight of the Forth Bridges Festival, a key event in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 calendar, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge.

At the heart of the exhibition will be Kate’s limited edition commemorative print, ‘The Art of Crossing’, and an innovative audio-visual installation which is a soundscape filmed and recorded directly underneath the Bridge on the maintenance deck.

Below brings to life the whole experience of how hard the structure works around the clock and the cacophony of the traffic pounding across it daily.

Supporting works include drawings, sketches and paintings created in pastels, ink, charcoal and watercolour.

Commenting on her experience, Kate said: “My residency has been like an in-depth interview with a very large object, from which I have gained a sense of the important part bridges play in everyday life.

“I have seen the bridge from above, below and even hanging over the side and I realise it may be spun from steel, but it is also spun by stories and it is where human life meets engineering.

“Sitting alongside its older neighbour, the rail bridge, and its embryonic new arrival, the Queensferry Crossing, the Forth Road Bridge is almost unassuming in appearance, but vital in design.

“It has played an important part on the Firth of Forth for the past 50 years and for me, this residency has been a logical, amazing and unique next step in my fascination with capturing bridges and civil engineering in a variety of media.

“In years to come, this trio of bridges will be celebrated for their very individuality and their collective emotional impact which will, I am quite sure, capture the imaginations of artists for generations to come.”

Lesley Hinds, convenor of FETA, added: The appointment of an artist-in-residence is a first for the Bridge Authority and forms a particularly important part of the 50th anniversary programme.

“We hope Kate’s work will encourage us all to look at the Bridge from a different perspective, beyond its everyday function as a piece of transport infrastructure, or even as a great piece of engineering.

“This exhibition is a fitting finale to Kate’s residency and a unique opportunity for young and old alike to visit the exhibition and get their own sense of what the Bridge is all about.”

Zero to Fifty: The Road Bridge Diaries is a free exhibition running daily from 10.30 am – 5 pm from 9 August to 13 September.


Notes to Editors

  • Zero to Fifty: the Road Bridge Diaries includes new works in a variety of media, capturing the graft and grace of the bridge and its unique surroundings.
  • At the heart of the exhibition is ‘The Road Bridge Diary’, an illustrated record of Kate Downie’s own Road Bridge experiences and a collection of bridge stories from many other people, including those who work day to day on the bridge. This hand-made book will be complete by September 4th 2014, exactly 50 years after the bridge was officially opened.
  • Kate has also created a series of works using traditional Chinese ink painting techniques, the works depicting each of the Forth crossings, are a continuation of Kate’s longstanding interest in places where land and roads meet.
  • Below, an audio-visual installation created in collaboration with architectural photographer, Michael Wolchover, and recorded from the maintenance deck directly underneath the Bridge, allows visitors to experience the constant cacophony of the traffic pounding across the bridge.
  • As part of this project a limited edition commemorative etching ‘The Art of Crossing’ has also been produced.

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Contact: Craig MacLellan
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