Voice 6 - Eilidh Henderson - Magicalise

/ Eilidh Henderson / Arts & Culture

Effective partnerships are based on a mutual understanding. To reach meaningful ends we must first understand our collaborators; where each person is coming from and their vision of what successful resolution result might be. A single common aim, filtered through individual perception is what makes a project dynamic and exciting, for everyone involved.

In an office context – a collection of individuals with a common goal – this raises the question; how do we define ourselves? Or to put it another way; what is the philosophy that binds this community?

Our recently completed project at St. Cecilias, to deliver a home for the University of Edinburgh’s musical instrument collection, offers itself as a vehicle to sustain this line of enquiry. A project to create a new museum within the shell of an existing building, augmented with a modest extension. A beacon onto Niddry Street, with its distinctive repeating parrot motif (taken from a harpsichord in the collection) to tempt the curious. Small, complex, intricate, its composition employed the skills of a broad range of people: curators, conservators, joiners, cabinetmakers, acousticians, engineers… The list goes on.

The finished work is a jewel on an otherwise nondescript backstreet of Edinburgh, brought to life by a union of minds, spirited toward a common goal that the finished building should be worthy of the instruments that will call it home. Bracketed at one side by an enthusiastic client and the other by a singular vision with enough capacity to not only buoy the interest of others but to magnify and focus their efforts into something significant and enduring. Each fingerprint is apparent, but none more significant than the whole.

Of course, we all want to believe that our own passion for a project will inspire those who come to work on it, but it is so often a cloistered enthusiasm, destined for a sort-of creative cul-de-sac. The key is to remain open, so that each project is defined by a collective effort that resonates and amplifies the act of each individual hand. It’s about people – it always is; the people making the parrots.