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Drawing on Arbroath's essence

Smokies, harbour and Abbey inspire platform for art to promote town's best side

Arbroath smokies are an unexpected favourite with children at this seaside town. It is very possible they actually prefer chips and are saying what they think they should. But this morning, Timmergreen Primary pupils are standing up for the fish that makes their town famous.

Smokies and the harbour feature prominently in the images they have created to promote their home town to visitors - along with Arbroath Abbey and, of course, their football ground. "Arbroath is probably most famous for the smokies," says Kirsty Thomson, from P6c, who celebrates her birthplace with a collage on the local speciality. "Usually I just have a bit of it as a starter."

The artwork by local primary pupils from Hayshead, Inverbrothock, Muirfield and Timmergreen primaries is on show at a new educational art gallery, set up at an unusual location in the waiting room on Platform One at Arbroath Station. The venture is part of First ScotRail's Adopt A Station initiative, where communities adopt one and improve its appearance with art and garden displays.

The gallery is also one of the lasting legacies of a year-long project by educational body The Royal Society of Edinburgh, celebrating the burgh's achievements and cultural heritage in schools and the wider community. Primary pupils focused on promoting their town to visitors as part of a theme exploring Wealth Creation in Arbroath.

Children researched and visited places of interest and created artwork with descriptions of their favourite locations.

"We went on a trip last year to Arbroath Abbey and we were sitting on the steps drawing it," says Kyle Ramsay, 9, from Timmergreen. "I go to the station when my mum or dad's going away somewhere. We look in the waiting room to see if my pictures are there.

"Arbroath is a good place and it's got interesting stuff in it," he adds, but breaks rank on smokies. "I like the smell, but I don't like the taste. I prefer pasta or sausages."

The educational context for the art gallery included citizenship, enterprise, history and creativity, which embodied A Curriculum for Excellence, according to headteacher Muriel Gordon: "It also encouraged the children in promoting Arbroath to be enterprising as well, so it ties in very nicely with everything we are trying to achieve in the primary school."

Jim Tollerton, retired headteacher of Wardykes Primary, helped the RSE co-ordinate events in schools, exploring the history and culture of Arbroath through a year-long programme of activities and public lectures on science and the arts. "It was really good working with them," he says. "You are bringing in knowledgeable people, and bringing out things in your community, highlighting them, and adding a bit more."

Events for secondary school pupils crossed a range of disciplines from music to geology with public lectures from prominent figures including Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser for Scotland, returning to her old school, Arbroath High, to deliver the RSE Christmas Lecture on Science and Arbroath in the 21st Century.

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