Ettrick’s youngsters pitch in to design flags

Artist Craig Coulthard and the Kirkhope Primary School pupils who designed the flags for the Forest Pitch football venue near Selkirk.
Artist Craig Coulthard and the Kirkhope Primary School pupils who designed the flags for the Forest Pitch football venue near Selkirk.

THE forest pitch near Selkirk, an artistic creation to celebrate the Olympics, moved a step closer this week.

For the pitch flags have been created. And the 12 Ettrickbridge schoolchildren who designed them were able to see the finished products atop rustic poles at school on Tuesday.

Artist Craig Coulthard, the creator of the pitch in the Clarilawmuir spruce plantation near Selkirk, said of the flag designs: “They’re great, I’m really pleased with them. The children have really understood the idea of repeat pattern: I wanted the flags to have a textiles feel.

“Each flag has been designed by them. They were asked to include the ideas behind the project such a teamwork and being in the forest.”

The flags project has taken about two months. The P4-7 children of Kirkhope primary school split into groups in April to design several patterns and the finished items were produced by Heriot Watt College of Textiles in Galashiels.

“The children are very, very excited about the flags. Every time I have been back they shout my name and want to give my high 5s and ask if they can sit next to me: it’s been a delight, “ said the Edinburgh-based artist.

Inspiration for the £460,000 project came from a childhood experience playing football in a forest in Germany, his love of the game and flying between Edinburgh and London looking at the patterns of trees in the Borders and looking out for football stadiums. “And I thought it might be nice to bring people through these unexplored areas to watch a football match,” Craig said.

“I love football and still play five-a-side,” said the artist.

Craig’s ancestors are from Selkirk and his grandfather James Coulthard was twice a standard bearer in the Common Riding.

Forest Pitch is part of the UK-wide Cultural Olympiad, running in tandem with the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and is one of several arts projects across Scotland.

Around 1,000 spectators are expected for two matches featuring mostly new Scots on the pitch on Saturday July 21. Afterwards native trees will be planted along the lines of the pitch which will grow into a living sculpture.

For more information and tickets visit www.forestpitch.org or ring 01665 833751.