People

Daughter ‘yarn bombs’ bench at Botanic Gardens in tribute to late artist mother

By Ian Marland at

Her mother was an artist who worked with wool and crocheted fabulous giant figures.

The bench was where her daughter sat and contemplated life at the time of her mother’s death.

And so, Mercedes Richardson was inspired to ‘yarn bomb’ the seat in tribute to her remarkable mum, Rita McGurn.

Mother: Rita McGurn was a well-known artist and TV and film production designer.

In recent days, visitors to Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens will have been struck by the colourful sight of a bench totally bedecked in wool.

Mercedes, who lives in Kelvinside, told Glasgow West End Today how she came by the idea.

“It came from a TED lecture I saw about 5 years ago which featured this yarn bombing idea – covering everyday things with wool in some way – wrapping it around or knitting or crocheting covers.”

Mercedes said: “I loved it and showed it to my mum who was an artist.

“As well as working in oil, pen and ink, she also crocheted large figures and rugs.

“She was always crocheting despite her failing eyesight.”

Rita died exactly two years at the age of 74 after a very short illness.

Yarn: Mercedes, family and friends spent weeks preparing covers for the seat tribute.

A well-known figure in Glasgow, Rita was a production designer in the film and TV business, and the art designer for the plays at Oran Mor before she retired.

Mercedes is an ESOL lecturer who works with young asylum seekers and refugees.

She said: “She died 2 years ago and I happened to be sitting on this bench when I got the call that something had happened to her.

“I often used to sit on this bench before her death – it was a place I did a lot of writing.

“After she died it has become the place I sit to remember her.”

Mercedes Richardson:

“On the day that we yarn bombed the bench friends of mine and my mum’s came up to help – sewing, supporting, visiting etc.

“As the sun began to set and the park was about to close there were three of us left stitching the final pieces together.”

Mercedes said: “This bench was one of the only benches that had no plaque and had been a little defaced so I wondered if I would be allowed to renovate it rather than get a new one as there is a lengthy waiting list.

“I love the other memorial benches in the park and my lovely aunt has a bench there.

“I then thought this yarn bombing would be more apt for my mum – colourful, eccentric and a little irreverent.”

Gardens: The family was given permission to use the bench to remember Rita McGurn.

Preparations for the tribute took some months to plan and carry out.

Mercedes said: “I measured the bench a while ago and I did a lot of the knitting at home over the last few months, my sister gave me some of the crochet pieces and a couple of friends of my mum’s donated some squares of knitting.

“On the day that we yarn bombed the bench friends of mine and my mum’s came up to help – sewing, supporting, visiting etc.

“As the sun began to set and the park was about to close there were three of us left stitching the final pieces together.”

The family was given full permission by the garden authorities to decorate the bench.

They will even return the seat in a better condition than they found by sanding it down and varnishing it.

Visitors will be able to see the decorated bench in all its glory up until July.