Barter Swap Shop

We staged a Barter swap shop in the Pig Rock Bothy of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art between the 13 – 22 March 2015. In that time, instead of an exhibition or sale of artwork by artists with learning disability, we aimed for an alternative value exchange, of more meaning than simply a cash transaction.

Over 40 swaps occurred between the six artists and visitors to the gallery. We didn’t anticipate such a positive response- swappers said that the absence of currency allowed a more personal, meaningful consideration of what they might offer in exchange for each work. Reaction to the quality of the artwork seemed to fuel people’s desire to exchange something valuable, assisted by a guide to the interests of the maker.

People came up with some amazing exchanges in relation to their own skills and networks.

Sculptor Duncan Robertson thought of an incredible swap for David’s giclee cactus prints, sparked by the suggestion that David would like a night away somewhere. Duncan has a room in his Georgian house which he hires out as a B&B through Airbnb which happens to have a four poster bed. He offered David and his worker to stay over for a night in Edinburgh.

Scots music fan Paul’s ON-NO knuckleduster caught the attention of clarsach player Lola who offered to compose a ceilidh piece to be performed live for him.

Kurt Geiger in London have offered fashion fan Alan a pair of shoes, one for each day of the week in exchange for his David Bowie and Grace Jones T shirts.

Lynne’s hand painted silk floor cushion was exchanged for a bag designed by Alexa Hare in response the fabric design “I was inspired to imitate Lynne’s design as I loved it so much. I learned that Lynne likes handbags so I asked if I could make her a handbag for her cushion”

Gary Barlow fan Lorna swapped her apron made from her textile design for a ticket to see Take That in Glasgow.

Artists Andrew Gammond and Cai Conduct made personal CD’s for pop music fan Leanne in exchange for her posters. Andrew’s CD tracklistings began with L E A N N E S W A P S H O P and Cai’s CD cover was designed and illustrated by him.

People have swapped their work to see live music, manicure vouchers, Pro marker felt tip pens , boxes of Maltesers, a makeover and photoshoot, a gluten free meal, a train trip to Dunbar with fish and chips, tickets to a fashion show and the opportunity to gig with a band.

To see the swaps that took place, and what happened next, follow Artlink Edinburgh and Lothians facebook page.

Common Play: Making Things Happen

As a society we no longer create social spaces naturally. Within mental health the increasing reality is isolation and the lack of opportunity for people to find meaningful and engaging ways to belong to their immediate communities.

Over the past years Artlink projects at the Glasshouses in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh hospital, Leylines across West Lothian and Curious Routes within Edinburgh have at the heart of their studio practice the motivation to bring people together.

‘We as a group of people meet up, chat, eat, share and listen together. It allows us to creatively explore our realities of isolation, support each other and challenge the lack of meaningful opportunities that people face on a daily basis’ 

These projects become social spaces, a chance to engage and share in conversation. ‘Everyone recognises themselves in how the ideas emerge and the way we make them happen.’ Ideas develop naturally inspired by something as simple as a favourite tune, a movie that inspires a time and place, a shared memory. Common ground emerges and the inspiration to involve others is the next step.

In West Lothian’s Leylines project, Peter Johnstone brought his passion for up and coming Scottish music talent to his local community of Bathgate. ’I want people to experience music locally that they might otherwise have to travel to city centres to experience.’

Edinburgh’s Curious Routes project has been developing conversations around communal play through music and games. ‘Getting together and sharing is on our own terms, we inform our ideas from personal and lived experiences’

The Glasshouses studio is a collective group of artists who create unique projects and events that encourages participation and celebration, as one member of the collective puts it: ‘As a group we have created a safe and supportive environment to explore our ideas. We bounce ideas off one another, it encourages us to be bolder, more ambitious about how we involve others and have fun in what we create’

Over the course of this exhibition at the Tent gallery, Glasshouses, Leylines and Curious Routes will be inviting groups and the public to actively take part in workshops or just enjoy the artworks on display.

A portable ping-pong table will be open for anyone to use. No points, no rules just play. Alongside this listen to music, chat about what motivates us and how we begin to create and be in charge of our own spaces.

Music for Mental Health

Glasgow’s Life Model, Adullboy, Idkid and Mad Rodents and their unique gig for Mental Health on September 30th in Boghall, Bathgate, West Lothian. 

We held a one-off gig bringing the best of Scotland’s songwriting talent under one humble roof in West Lothian as part of our project Leylines which hosts creative connections for mental health in West Lothian.

Local resident Peter Johnstone was the power behind this grassroots event – inspired by his passion for the current vibrant Scottish music scene. ‘I wanted to bring fresh Scottish talent to a small town in West Lothian where I come from. I wanted to give others incredible live music without the need to get to the city centres. Music is helpful in so many ways, it brings us out of ourselves and is a connection with others. Creativity is a joy and an escapism’

Chris Smith from Life Model said ‘It’s important to take any opportunity to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health and get more people to talk about it”

Visit the Leylines website.



Scott vs Demons


As part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, Artlink launches Scott vs Demons, a comic which takes a satirical look at the bureaucratic mistreatment of vulnerable people with chronic ill health and disabilities.

The comic takes as its starting point the experience of Scott Davidson, a young man with autism, and goes on a flight of fantasy where we get to experience the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) assessment process for the ridiculous farce it is.

On show at Artlink will be the original artwork for the comic and an opportunity to meet with some of the people behind the comic and talk with them about the ideas behind its creation.

Exhibition Venue: Artlink, 13a Spittal street, Edinburgh, EH3 9DY

Comic signing with Alan Grant & Scott Davidson: Friday 25th August, 9.30am- 5pm

Exhibition of Original Artwork: Friday 25th and Saturday 26th August,  9.30am – 5pm

Where to buy your copy:  At Artlink, Blackwells Books, Deadhead Comics and other retailers or buy it online by clicking here.

Support Us

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It is a quick and easy way to support our Arts Access service which provides opportunities for  disabled people to enjoy the arts. A relatively small donation can make a big difference!

£5 pays for return transport.

£10 helps towards a theatre ticket.

Thank you!

For more information about Gift Aid and the Small Print look here.