Repel and attract

Tonya McMullan

2023 Ecology Waste

Location: Art Walk Hub, 189 Portobello High Street

Inspired by the unexpected presence of tomato seedlings thriving in the water treatment plant at Seafield, Tonya McMullan is currently developing connections between waste, water, ecology and scent. This work also connects to the artist’s love of community gardens, several of which thrive in the areas around Seafield and Portobello and are at the forefront of innovative approaches to water collection and storage.

For Art Walk Porty, McMullan is collaborating with Restalrig-based community group, The Ripple Project, looking at methods of rainwater collection and community growing to create a scented water-collection sculpture. Made from discarded plastic and organic material, this work is informed by McMullan’s interest in interactions between humans and insects, as well as the unique scent and growth patterns of tomato plants.

Tonya McMullan situates her work amidst communities using long-term engagement to make context-specific, process-based, participatory and performative installations that foreground ecological concerns. McMullan has immersed herself in the world of insects for several years: ongoing projects with beekeeping, urban agriculture and pollinators have developed into explorations of our sensory and extra-sensory connections.

Past projects include Crude Floral (2022), a series of scent explorations with Art Walk Projects; There is something in the æther (2021), a scent and hand sanitiser created for TULCA festival in Galway to encourage people to recollect smell memories and consider relationships with the environment past present and future; and The Lure of Tomorrow’s Harvests (2020), an installation commissioned by Talbot Rice Gallery comprising an archive of Edinburgh honey collected during lockdown.

Related Events

  • Vessel Exhibition

    Friday 1 September to Sunday 10 September


    Our central festival exhibition shows work from a number of this year’s commissioned artists who have developed a series of projects relating to our Vessel theme. The vessel has been […]

  • Rainwater collection devices workshop and talk

    Thurs 7 September 6pm to Thurs 7 September 8pm


    In this workshop Linda Furley from Craigentinny Community Garden will talk about their watering collection device at the garden, and artist Tonya McMullan will involve participants in making a series […]

  • Artist-led tour at Seafield Water Treatment Plant

    Sat 16 September 10am to Sat 16 September 1pm


    A rare chance to see inside Scotland’s largest sewage plant, tracing the full waste-water treatment process from start to finish, with a tour led by Tonya McMullan. Opportunities for drawings along […]

  • Conversing with Tomatoes

    Thu 21 September 6pm to Thu 21 September 8pm

    Live Art

    Tonya McMullan teams up with chef and wild foods forager Judith Lamb to host an evening of conversation and tomato-based foods to share. Tomato plants have been found growing again at […]

  • Vessel Exhibition at mote102

    Thurs 21 September 11am to Wed 27 September 4pm


    We are delighted to host our second exhibition as part of our VESSEL project at mote102 with installations from residency artists HUNITI GOLDOX, Tonya McMullan, Jenny Pope and Claudia Zeiske. […]