Communication Design School of Design

Mary Martin

I am a designer with a drive to make socially and environmentally conscious work. This translates into all of my graphic design, which primarily takes the form of printed matter, film and interactive design. I take inspiration from the world around me, often responding to local as well as global issues. Drawing on concept-led briefs, research plays a strong part of my practice, engaging with archives, design history and current affairs.

My largest project this year takes the form of an immersive exhibition which explores Scotland’s diminishing temperate rainforests. This environment is at risk to a range of factors, including the climate crisis, but is essential to Scotland’s eco-system with home to over 17,000 plant species. Using a variety of processes, such as film, 3D modelling and photography, I have sculpted a VR interactive exhibition, allowing the user to explore this fascinating habitat.

This year I have also written a dissertation titled: Community, Sustainability and Design: Towards a Greener Glasgow, which inspects the role of Community Based Organisations within the city. I have then turned this into an editorial publication, inspecting binding methods, layout and fine details, basing decisions upon my primary research into Glasgow’s communities.

Govanhill Baths Mural
Scotland’s Rainforest Enigmas
Community, Sustainability and Design: Towards a Greener Glasgow

Govanhill Baths Mural

Govanhill Baths is a grassroot, activist organisation located in the southside of Glasgow. Their work incorporates health, wellbeing, arts, environmental and heritage projects whilst delivering This year I have been collaborating with them to contribute to their new identity ahead of reopening this year.

My final outcome is a mural featuring lettering taking inspiration for forms from activities ran at the baths. My process used a 12 tile modular system for each letter, allowing the forms to flow into one another, as if distorted by water.

Scotland’s Rainforest Enigmas

Temperate rainforests once covered the majority of Western Europe, forming in mild climactic areas within the temperate zone that receive heavy rainfall. Due to a variety of human and natural factors they now can now only be found in Northern Spain and the west coast of Britain. Defined by high levels of rainfall and relatively mild, year-round temperatures – temperate rainforests provide home to a plethora of biodiversity and a range of plant species that cannot be found outside of this biome. Western Scotland is renowned for having some of the most untouched temperate rainforests in the world, due to the areas lack of inhabitancy and steep topography.

For centuries, the primeval rainforests have been able to flourish here, providing a rich biodiversity of both plants and animals. Ecologically, one of the most interesting features of temperate rainforest, is the diversity of bryophytes and lichens, which are found in vast quantities on trees, boulders and in ravines and on the ground. Temporally, lichens are fascinating as many species found in these parts of Scotland are some of the oldest living organisms on earth, with a lifespan of around 5000 years. They grow at a rate of 1mm a year, establishing themselves as a steady constant that play an essential role in the nutrient cycle, food webs and providing a habitat for insects and microorganisms within the forest. Whilst many factors, such as weather, climate, seasons and disturbances change, lichens remain the same, supporting the external ecosystem. In addition to the small scale role they play within the rainforest, lichens are pinnacle for carbon capture, thriving off carbon dioxide within or atmosphere and contributing to the slowing of global warming.

In addition to its rich biodiversity, the rainforests provide social, environmental and economic support for the majority of the western Scotland community. As well as positive effects on mental health and well-being through providing a meeting place and space to exercise, the forest is an education tool and provides support for farmers. For cattle farmers, the forest creates a natural, ethical, contained environment for calving heifers. The woods are also used sustainably for logging and provide jobs for residents in these remote areas. The mixed usage of the woodlands by various stakeholders does, however, lead to issues. Lack of governmental support means there is insufficient funding for regeneration schemes to maintain the woodland and the schemes that are already in place are financially inaccessible for local land-owners. In addition, Scotland’s rainforests, in particular the lichens and fungi, are at expediential risk due to a variety of factors. Country wide, Scotland is experiencing an extensive deer problem with the species uncontrollably feeding off small vegetation, removing sprouting saplings. This is therefore interfering with the natural nutrient cycle and putting some species of lichens and trees at risk. Furthermore, invasive, non-native species (e.g. Rhododendron Ponticom), have spread rapidly in recent years, chocking the woodland and occupying space on the woodland floor. Other issues include disease, such as ash dieback, which spreads rapidly and is hard to control. In addition to this, climate change is having significant implications on Scotland’s rainforests. Nitrogen pollution can over fertilise lichens and cause them to die and increased periods of draught as well as changes in temperatures can induce dormancy for lichens. It is unknown the full extent of the issues that could be inflicted on temperate rainforests by climate change but it is essential that these fascinating landscapes are protected and continue to allow these unique species to flourish.

Throughout this year I have been responding to this landscape through film, photography and interactive design ultimately constructing an outcome of a virtual exhibition. Using VR, the user can explore my videos and lichen forms, becoming a micro part of a macro ecosystem. In addition to this, the user can take away a post card, allowing them to keep a physical part of the exhibition.

Community, Sustainability and Design: Towards a Greener Glasgow

Community, Sustainability and Design: Towards a Greener Glasgow is a publication featuring my dissertation alongside collected found imagery and my own photography. The essay examines the role of Community Based Organisations within Glasgow’s journey to becoming more sustainable and the challenges they are currently facing, both economically and socially. Alongside this, it considers how sustainability and social cohesion have to work, in hand, to better one another.

Visiting local charities and groups including Govanhill baths, Friends of Garnethill Green spaces, Glasgow Eco Trust and Milk Cafe Women’s Group, allowed me to immerse myself in various communities- documenting this process through photography and conversation. In addition, collaborating with artists and photographers within the city and GSA allowed me to gather additional imagery whilst developing an understanding of how other creatives are responding to these themes.