‘Memory and Reflection’ – Musselburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

‘Memory and Reflection’

A shiny sculpture celebrating the mighty mollusk. 


When the city council of Musselburgh agreed to the construction of a Tesco supermarket, it came with one peculiar condition: that Tesco would eventually finance art projects in the city itself. Tesco committed £76,000 to two art projects, the first of which was “Memory and Reflection” by local artist Michael Johnson.

Installed around June 2018, the inspiration for his work is right there in the city’s name. Musselburgh stems from the name of this popular mollusk and the suffix, burgh meaning “town,” thanks to its abundance of this food source. Johnson decided on a large, reflective silver mussel for his sculpture, and the title stems in its concept as a surface on which to reflect both the image of the beholder and the memories inspired by the symbol of the mollusk.

The barnacles attached to the mussel’s shell are engraved with symbols representing the history of Musselburgh, from its Roman occupation to the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Additional symbols, these ones seemingly designed by schoolchildren, are located on the base of the sculpture. These seem to show illustrations of everyday Musselburgh scenes as well as flora and fauna of the region.

Know Before You Go

This sculpture is located in the public Maitland waterfront park and can be seen at any time.

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