Shop windows to show Gala’s past and future

Galashiels primary schoolchildren are searching for memories of Galashiels’ last 100 years, and ideas about what the town’s High Street will look like, for their ‘Windows To The Future’ project, writes Sandy Neil.

Since January, pupils from five primary schools have been poring over old photographs, kindly donated by Gala townsfolk, to create four ‘pop-up puppet theatres’ in empty shop windows on April 13 and 14, showing Galashiels’ past, present and future.

Each primary school is looking at different eras in the town’s history: St Peter’s is investigating 1900-1940, Glendinning the Second World War from 1939-1945, Langlee 1945-1960, Balmoral the 1960s and 70s, and finally, the Burgh will cover the 1980s to the present day. Another window will display the children and local people’s vision of Galashiels High Street in the future.

Project leader Kerry Jones of Selkirk- based arts group Ruffled Feathers said: “We want to try and get the Galashiels community to submit more memories of the High Street, and ideas for its future. It’ll be interesting to see what people think it could become. It’s a blank canvas, really.

“There are still gaps we need to fill in the town’s history, such as when the Rolling Stones and The Who played in Gala in the 1960s, and when German bombers followed the moonlight on the Tweed to bomb Clydebank in the blitz. We are gathering anyone’s memories.”

The schoolchildren will then create story plots based on the donated photos and memories, and film them as puppet shows or animations to be shown in the shop windows.

The children will make the shadow puppets out of recycled materials such as plastic milk bottles, and there is also a free animation workshop with local animator Simon Russell, which is open for anyone to attend on Saturday, March 2, in the TD1 Youth Centre in Ladhope Vale from 9.30am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.30pm.

Kerry also appealled for more empty shop windows: “We’ve secured two windows in the town, thanks to the generosity of Phil Macari [of Macari’s Café],” she said, “and we’re looking for two more, hopefully in the nice pedestrian area at the head of Channel Street.”

Anybody who can help with empty shop windows, memories of Gala, ideas for its future, or who wants to book a space on the free animation workshop, should contact Kerry at windowstothefuture@gmail.com.

There is currently an exhibition in Moondogs of all the drawings produced by the young people so far, which will be moving to Macari’s Café at the beginning of March.