Throughout my FUE journey, I have sought to salvage wood to use in our workshops. I know the origin for most of our wood and much of it, if not all, has come from sustainable wood. However, now and then, I get a call to go and pick up some old wood that is sitting in a builder’s yard and will end up as firewood.
I look beyond the fate imposed upon these weathered, battered pieces of offcuts and to the beauty that comes from them through the hands of those who pour their heart into creating something useful and of value from them.
Such is the wood that has been used for the Wellie Weekers. All I know is that once, this marine construction plywood was growing in the rainforests of Brazil. I didn’t choose it this way, and I do not approve of its origins because of the catastrophic deforestation of the rainforests, but I also knew that if I didn’t pick it up, it would be burned in a pile somewhere. My heart yearned to give this wood new life and make its perilous traumatic journey one that resulted in value and honour. I knew the wood had been used for street art in Scotland. Indeed, when I collected it, I admired the beautifully intricate and bold colours and designs, like puzzle pieces wondering which fit into where. Did they all come from one piece or different ones mixed up?
I visualised the story of this pile of wood. Once, as trees, they stood proud and strong in the tropical rainforest, watching over or even providing shelter to bats, tapirs, monkeys, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, butterflies and every type of imaginable insect, bears, jaguars, capybaras, cougars, mountain lions and hundreds of species of mammals. A place so rich in forests, rivers, savannahs, amphibians, plant life and not to mention native tribal people communities. So rich and majestic is the faraway land they once grew in until they were felled and sold off, probably being used to make a sturdy boat that carried tourists on organised tours along the Amazon. In time, the boat would have become worn and battered and then chopped up, eventually becoming a canvas for street art.
But even there, this wood took on another life. It became the backdrop for these talented individuals, many self-taught artists growing up in Edinburgh or nearby. Through their artistic gift, they have used every available surface to express their thoughts, concerns, passions. All styles are represented. Figurative, surreal, wheat pasting, sculpting even, all outward expressions of inward battles, emotions, thoughts. Although graffiti has been around in Scottish cities since the 50’s, it was frowned upon and seen as a distasteful way for teens to rebel. Fast forward into the 1980’s when it took on a new image, evolving into an acceptable and admired art form. Today, not only are we fortunate to admire stunning pieces of street art freely available in our towns and cities, but street artists are in demand, their skill and creativity, required to adorn dull buildings and ugly streets.
Dull grey walls are transformed in Scotland through street art bringing life and colour into cities troubled by their own challenges and problems and bringing smiles and joy to those who walk past or ride the trains to work or school each day.
And then, this wood has finished its journey here in the FUE workshop. Not the grandeur of the Brazilian rainforest, just rainy Scotland, in itself a beautiful majestic land but for different reasons. Here, in our little workshop, we have fashioned these off cuts into our Wellie Weekers used to help get those stubborn wellies off after a long walk. New life has been given to this wood once more, each Wellie Weeker now a useful and cherished part of every home that owns one. I wonder though, do they realise the story their Wellie Weekers have?