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BOOK

REVIEW

EK Modernism By Sylvia Grace Borda.South Lanarkshire Council/ East Kilbride Arts Centre, 2006. £26.99

It seems hard to imagine a time when East Kilbride, now best known for its proliferation of roundabouts (60 at last count), was a pioneering model of urban design. Yet, as Sylvia Grace Borda points out in EK Modernism, when Scotland's first New Town was constructed in the 1950s it espoused all the social ideals of post-war Modernism.

Sadly, and despite Borda's protestations to the contrary, it is clear from this collection of her photographs that little of this spirit remains. The overwhelming motif is badly weathered concrete. Dirty grey fencing criss-crosses the town and mildewed windows reect the glowering sky. Yet here and there are gems that are testament to the utopian vision of East Kilbride's planners. The solidity of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's brickwork St Bride's Church in particular stands out.

The fading wall frieze in Basil Spence's Duncanrig School brings to mind newly uncovered Roman mosaics.

But, as Ian Craig points out in the accompanying text, many of East Kilbride's schools, which were sited on prime hilltop locations, are to be demolished, and their sites redeveloped.

Original 1950s and '60s photographs by East Kilbride resident Jack McElroy provide a counterpoint to Borda's depopulated images. These include a shot of the Holyrood textile factory and a picture of McElroy's elderly parents dressed up in their Sunday best - pottering around what was, back then, a brave new world.

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