The marvellous old Custom House building has stood proudly at The Shore welcoming ships to Leith since 1812 but in recent history has become a bit of a sleeping giant, used mainly as store for museum artefacts. Now its regeneration for community use is well underway. The Scottish Historic Buildings Trust has opened the door to all sorts of creative projects, including exhibitions, workshops, performances, fundraisers, films and one-off events. I was lucky enough to have a peek round recently with the Trust's Director Una Richards and get a flavour of what's going on.
Amongst the organisations now based in Custom House is the Edinburgh Atelier of Fine Arts (EAFA), which teaches art through the traditional methods of nineteenth century academies. I visited while some students were doing life drawing - the utter quiet a testament to how absorbed the students were in their work. It's open to all ages and level of experience.
Artist Trina Bohan also has a studio in Customs House now - she does extremely evocative Scottish landscapes of remote areas such as the Flow country in Caithness and powerful figure studies. Then there's the fantastic muralist Chris Rutterford (above), pictured with some of his works - some might recognise the odd face in the crowd scene shown! Some exciting projects coming up too...
Work is underway in the building on three accessible rooms that will be available for community use.
Una said a feasibility study will be commencing soon which will scope out other uses proposed for the building - such as the Heritage Centre many would like to see - but in the meantime it's great to see this stunning building already humming with life!