Big Things on the Beach

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Background and Future Plans

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Big Things on the Beach is registered in Scotland as a charitable company limited by guarantee (SCO 035107). The charitable purpose of Big Things is:

  • To advance the education of the public by promoting and developing the artistic taste, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts primarily in the area of Portobello Beach and particularly through the commissioning and promotion of public art, that is, art exhibited in public.
  • To advance the education of the public by providing seminars, conferences and practical training on matters related to the creation and exhibition of public art.

This purpose is commonly paraphrased as "To promote the use of Portobello Beach and environs as a site for the creation and display of public art". The educational role of Big Things on the Beach is summarised as "Engage, Educate, Empower".

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 19:41

Could an art project in Portobello be the next step towards transforming it into the Forth Riviera?

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Perfect PortyIt may be some time since the brass bands played "tiddley-om-pom-pom" beside Edinburgh's seaside, but there's one thing for sure, the residents of Portobello, and of the city generally, still like to "stroll along the prom, prom prom". The prom is a Porty institution.

A mile long, stretching from Joppa's distinctive pumping station in the east, to just past Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home in the west, the stretch of Tarmac with its eclectic assortment of cafes, amusement arcades and pubs is well used daily by walkers, runners, cyclists and families enjoying beach days at weekends and during school holidays. The prom users are a kind of family who know one another by sight and, when introduced at social events elsewhere in the city, say "we've seen one another somewhere before haven't we?", before concluding: "It must have been on the prom...".

There are prom shifts. The early shift belongs to dog walkers, runners and cyclists heading to work. The second shift is Tower Bank primary pupils, in their eye-catching red sweatshirts, with their parents and grandparents. Then the mums stop off at the Beach House café for a latte, and the seniors with time on their hands do the second dog-walk shift before finding a bench from which to watch the world go by. The lunch crew makes for The Espy, on Bath Street, or the Dalriada, off Bedford Terrace, or grab a bag of chips from the Porto Restaurant or the arcade. Then there are more dog-walkers, and schoolchildren returning, with pent-up energy to be burned in a quick run on the sand. Then the cyclists come back, the dog walkers are out yet again, the teens make the prom their own as dusk falls, and the pub crowd heads for the bars. And the last ones on the beach are probably the dog walkers ... again.

But how many Porty folk actually stop to think about what they're walking, running or cycling on? Or more to the point, how they'd like what they're walking on to look?


Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 20:00

The Big Idea & Future Plans

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6  After a busy year of public art commissioning and community engagement, the Public Art House has closed as planned. Thanks to the 3000 people who have Imagined Porty Prom with us this year and have shared their ideas! Please keep continuing to do so by adding new comments here on the website, or on our Facebook page.

Watch this space - in the coming month we'll be publishing the Public Art Strategy for Portobello Promenade as well as additional outcomes about this year's project. In the meantime, an outline of the resulting Big Idea and overview of future plans for the trust is available for download here

The local people involved in Big Things on the Beach are continuing to create new public art activities, already planning an international Garden Gallery project for the Olympic year 2012. If you would like to get involved in Big Things on the Beach or want to contact us, email us at or write to: Big Things on the Beach, c/o 21 Bedford Terrace, EH15 2EJ. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 13:51

Placemaking Workshop

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On 4th March a group of Portobello residents, design professionals, artists and officers from City of Edinburgh Council came together at the invitation of Big Things on the Beach to ‘Imagine Porty Prom.’ 

Groups were asked to focus on a number of ideas based on the concepts outlined in the City’s plans, and the artist commissioning activity of Big Things on the Beach, as well as exploring the site.

-       What should Porty Prom look and feel like in ten or twenty years time?

-       How can the qualities of Porty Prom be celebrated and reflected in its development?

-       How can the work of artists be integrated into all aspects of the promenade’s development?

The results of the workshop are contributing to the Portobello Public Art Plan which is currently being authored by RKL consultants. Download the Workshop Report here.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:23

Think Tank

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Come on down to Edinburgh's Beach to see examples of Public Artworks from across the globe and find out what people have been suggesting for Portobello Prom.



Last Updated on Monday, 21 June 2010 11:52
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Big Things on the Beach is a public art trust in Portobello, a seaside suburb close to the city centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was formed by a group of residents in 2003 to explore the potential of the seafront as a site for engagement with public artworks by both emerging and established artists.

Since 2004 we have commissioned artists to create substantial temporary artworks, trained ourselves and others in the process of commissioning public artworks through international site visits and guest lectures and successfully raised funding to these ends.

Our current project - The Big Welcome - is supported by Creative Scotland, Portobello & Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership and Edinburgh City Libraries