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Permanent Commission at Castle Mills - Entrance Gates

To celebrate the opening of our new home, once the HQ of the world famous North British Rubber Company (NBRC), artists have used Castle Mills as a matrix for 3 public realm commissions exploring the rich heritage of the building, and the history of the surrounding area.

These commissions are integral to the architectural design and redeveloped fabric of the building. This programme offers visitors a unique opportunity to discover the hidden histories and distinguished industrial past of the Castle Mills building.

This programme of public realm commissions is part of a broader Heritage Activities Programme that has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by The Gannochy Trust, The Robertson Trust, and The Garfield Weston Foundation.

In addition, we would like to acknowledge the generous contribution our local community has made in supporting this ambitious programme.

Entrance Gates, 2019 | Rachel Duckhouse
Powder coated galvanised steel gates, 3 x (2.5m x 2.1m) 
Commissioned by Edinburgh Printmakers
Fabricated by Sculpture & Design

The Entrance Gates commission is kindly supported by The Ironmonger’s Company.


Photo: Installation view Entrance Gates, permanent commission, Rachel Duckhouse, Castle Mills, Dundee Street, 2019. Photo Jules Lister

The Entrance Gates are inspired and informed by research into the history of the North British Rubber Company (NBRC) factory site. The artist Rachel Duckhouse visited the NBRC archives in Dumfries, and researched printed material from 1920s - 1970s; product catalogues, promotional leaflets, flyers and photos, as well as blueprints of factory floor layouts and machinery diagrams.

“The photos and illustrations of workers tending the machines reminded me of printmakers at their printing presses. Calenders were used to flatten the raw material of rubber into sheets using a series of huge rollers. These cylindrical rolling shapes also appear in traditional and contemporary printmaking practice; in printing presses used in intaglio and relief printing. The repetitive action of rolling is also used in inking up a roller for relief printing, and rolling ink onto a lithography stone or plate. Many of the finished products coming out of the factory were packed, transported and presented in rolls – sheeting, mats, flooring – in the same way etching blankets and some papers are stored in the print workshop.

Once I realised that this roller shape and movement was the link between past and future production processes on the site, I developed drawings to create a repeat pattern that would work within the functional and visual context of the bi-folding gates. I worked with Sculpture & Design to select the right materials and fabrication processes and hand drew every line to scale before it was sent to be laser cut, galvanised, welded and powder coated.”
Rachel Duckhouse, visual artist and printmaker, born 1975.