HUMAN SPACES~ Wishart Arch.

The Wishart Arch is a monument situated in the Seagate, which is one of the oldest parts of Dundee. The Wishart Arch is a remaining part of the city wall and was an old gateway into the city, forming part of the East Port and Cowgate. The monument frames a part of Dundee’s history and past. Once a protected gateway into Dundee it was converted into a pedestal from which religious reformer George Wishart preached to plague victims in 1544. It now stands as a very ghostly structure, amongst the modern city of Dundee.

The Wishart arch reminds me of how the city used to encircle the land, and how we as its inhabitants lived inside it. It is now said to be the only remaining part of the original city walls and architecturally dates back to 1500’s. I must have walked passed the structure several times, but have never noticed it before due to its strange location. The arch is in the middle of the city, and yet is completely immersed and made invisible by its surrounding environment. I think it is a wonderful piece of architecture, which remains as a symbol of the past.

As an ancient monument, the Wishart Arch resonates a different time and place. The Wishart Arch presently stands beside a modern building, which extends itself out from the arch’s adjacent wall. I think it is very interesting to think of buildings as their own bodies, and so in this instance when two buildings  come together in such a close dialogue with another, their original identity changes, and they become a completely new body. I think  this is why I have perhaps never noticed the arch before, because it no longer stands as a structure by itself, it forms part of  this completely different identity that does not resonate a historical place at all. It is very strange how two buildings with such different presences can stand beside each other and exist in the same space, yet they can also work together to communicate and create a dialogue between the past and present of a city.

For my explorations on resonance within the structure, I sat inside the small encove of the arch and sang inside it. It was a really lovely experience as it allowed me to observe the world around me without being seen, as in that moment I was concealed by the arch.  Being inside the arch made me feel immersed within its walls, allowing my voice to travelled through the structure. I sat inside it for a while, watching the space around the structure; how people moved around and through it…It felt as though it wasn’t a place where people stopped, but more a space that was crossed and inhabited a moment rather than a long period of time. I got the feeling that this Arch has become invisible to everyone, it no longer is seen as a body at all, and because of this I enjoyed occupying it for that time period, and acknowledging it as its own structure.

After some time, I left the structure and wandered up and through the streets it led to, finding new spaces of old that resonate our past….

Categories: Preparation - before the festival | Leave a comment

About Sylvia Anna Law

I am an Edinburgh-based Creative Practitioner. I work with a large variety of medias including sound, performance art, environmental sculpture, deep listening, site-specific practices, drawing and writing. I primarily work within the realms of spatial awareness, investigating both inner and outer realms through sound, performance, listening, responsive sculpture and improvisation. I am interested in exploring the relationship between our external and internal environments and to reveal the elements that are left invisible, yet are still felt and perceived. I use my creative practice to stage events that engage audiences within immersive experiences that create a bridge between the things we see and do not see. Through them we are able to locate the true nature of our everyday habitats. As well as building my individual practice, I am also engaged in forming creative collectives and working within communities. If you wish to contact me about future projects then please send me an email, my address is: I hope you enjoy my blog!

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