Make Your Way: Brick Making, Carluke
Kevin Morris - artist residency
Make Your Way Artist in residence, Kevin Morris, took to Carluke to explore the wealth of local heritage around making and production. Carluke is famous for its products, including its food stuffs such as jam and ham. However, what Kevin really delved into was the impressive brick making history that took place in Carluke parish. This has informed the design of Make Your Way art works installed across Carluke.
Find out more about Kevin's work at this link: http://kevinandrewmorris.daportfolio.com/.
Across the lifespan of brick making in Carluke, there were 18 brick works in the parish, each with their own distinctive name as seen in this list courtesy of the Carluke Parish Historical Society (CPHS):
1. The Lee (Scottish Terracotta Works).
2. Thornice (George Morton).
3. Nellfield (John Lawson).
4. Braidwood (Thomas Hamilton).
5. Braidwood Station (John MacDonald).
6. Meadow (John MacDonald).
7. Caledonian (James Allen).
8. Milton (Richard Gibson).
9. Giscol (Glasgow Iron & Steel Company Ltd.).
10. Mayfield (Coltness Iron Company).
11. Mauldslie (Loudon & Miller).
12. Hallcraig (Coltness Iron Company).
13. Scoularhall (Coltness Iron Company).
14. Whiteshaw (Thomas Gibson).
15. Law Junction (J. Agnew).
16. Waterlands (Nathaniel Gold).
17. Castlehill (Shotts Iron Company).
Kevin sought out the expertise of George ‘The Brick Man’ Kennedy at CPHS, delving into former brick work sites to find different examples of these historic bricks. Older bricks are larger and heavier, showcasing the name of the company where the brick was produced within the indent or the ‘Frog’ of the brick: so names such as Mayfield, GISCOL, or Lee can be seen imprinted on the bricks once produced and still found within Carluke Parish. The origins of the term ‘frog’ are much debated. Common suggestions include, one: in early brick making processes the mould that produced the indent resembled a crouching frog. Two, the bumps in older moulds were called ‘kickers’ as they kicked the clay towards the edges of the mould and at some point kicker became muddled with the Dutch word, ‘kikker’, and this translates in English as ‘frog’ (Guardian, 2011), (Cranston, 2015).
Having decided to focus on bricks, Kevin searched through the extensive archives of the CPHS to unearth old photos and records from former brick works. He produced colourful zines detailing some of this information and worked with pupils at Crawforddyke Primary, Carluke, helping them make clay bricks with their own invented company names. The pupils then fired the bricks in a temporary ‘home made’ kiln in Jock’s Burn.
As a ceramic artist, Kevin interpreted Carluke’s lineage of brick making through the lens of his own practice, finding complementary processes and themes, and eventually producing ceramic bricks as colourful replicas of the original Carluke bricks.
On the 16th March 2017, in Carluke Library, Kevin presented his work to an eager crowd of heritage enthusiasts and former brick workers, discussing the links between his own background, his practice and the wider story of brick making in Carluke.
The night was capped off with the presentation by Carluke Parish Historical Society of a film documenting Mayfield brick works before its closure in 2010. This was a brilliant opportunity to not only see the works in action, but to listen to the memories of the brick workers as they watched the video and recalled the arduous specifics of day to day production.
Take a virtual walk on the Carluke Make Your Way trails and see the artworks in situ in the video below:
To find out more about Carluke’s brick making history have a look at the Carluke Parish Historical Society website under ‘Find Out More’ or check out the links below to read more about Brick and Tile works in the Clyde and Avon Valley.
Make Your Way is an arts, heritage and active travel campaign, focusing on the communities of Carluke, Glassford, Lanark, Larkhall and Stonehouse, in 2016 – 17. It was delivered by icecream architecture and SYSTRA, with support from Smarter Choices, Smarter Places grant and is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership scheme.
Cranston, M. (2015), [online] http://www.scottishbrickhistory.co.uk/brick-frog-origins/
Guardian (2011), [online] https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-67944,00.html