Thursday, 14 August 2014

A corncrake in Charlotte Square

An installation by Thomas A Clark for Edinburgh International Book Festival, 9-25th August 2014

Organised by Scottish Poetry Library in collaboration with RSPB.

“…But how can I forget the glory of that scene ! on the nights in which I have stood in Queen Street, or the opening at the north-west corner of Charlotte Square, and listened to the ceaseless rural corn-craiks, nestling happily in the dewy grass.” - from Memorials of his Time, Henry Cockburn, 1856

A recording of the corncrake's call was installed in Charlotte Square during the book festival and played every evening between 7 and 9pm, perhaps the first time the call had been heard in this vicinity for two hundred years.

Crex crex, Crex crex, Crex crex, Crex crex

In Scotland, this shy bird is now confined to a few locations in the western highlands and islands. The installation gives a glimpse into an earlier Edinburgh, before the building of the new town, as well as being a late apology to the corncrake.

"a sort of living doubt" - John Clare

photograph by Andy Hay
drawing by Laurie Clark

Before the traffic, the corncrake !