Extraordinary swaps that bring the flair and originality of artists with learning disabilities to the local community.

Pelican Gallery

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

In December 2014, Dalkeith High Street traders showed their support for Artlink’s Barter project by displaying posters in their windows in the run up to Christmas. These posters are now on show in the Pelican Gallery of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The Barter project itself is unique but simple: an artwork is made especially for an organisation, and in return the maker gets a new experience or new skill.

The project, based in Mayfield, Midlothian supports people with learning disability to use their skills and talents to the benefit of the local area. Simple partnerships are formed between artists on the project, working together to ensure that what is made is of the highest quality. Together they create new networks for people based on interests within the group, local requests and more recently commissions. Our overall intention is to create a new form of currency through the making of bespoke artworks which open up different opportunities, offer new experiences and skills, positively portraying people with learning disabilities as creative, imaginative, talented co-producers. We have begun to find that people are getting the opportunity to do things they have never done before.

Barters have included making a house sign for a vintage car hire owner in return for trips in a Rolls Royce, and magic shows in return for making the children’s entertainer a prop box. People have experienced watching badger pups in the wild, learned how to make canapes and had a ceilidh in a cafe, all which build experiences and networks.

Artlink were taken aback by the number of retailers who agreed to take part in displaying the posters. People came forward demanding more posters for their windows. Its been uplifting. It showed the Dalkeith community at their best – as the supportive and positive community that they are. So thank you Dalkeith you are amazing!

With support from Midlothian Council and Creative Scotland


Dog costume

David loves delicate line drawing. In conversation we discovered he liked dogs and superheroes. So we decided to mix the two. David worked with his support staff and Artlink artist Emily Martin to design costumes for dogs.

From his drawings we created a dog costume for Eadie. In its very first showing at the German Shepherd Rescue Fund dog show, David won a prize.

Our intention is to work with David to create new ideas for dog costumes or pet accessories, and through this create exchanges with like minded dog enthusiasts. Get in touch if you know of someone who might like their own pet fashion designer.

T shirt by Emily Millichip fashion designer

George Thompson from Dalkeith worked with artist Francesca Nobilucci and fashion designer Emily Millichip to create wearable artworks. Emily really wanted one of George’s paintings, which was exchanged in return for her textile skills.

Jigsaw for Whitmuir Organics

In this early Barter project, we started to look for very different barters. Nicholas Trayner from Penicuik worked with artist James McLardy to turn his animal drawings into a child’s jigsaw for Whitmuir Organics Café. Owner Heather organised a live music coffee morning for us in return. She said she loved the process of getting to know us through the exchange, and felt she got more out of it than we did! We disagree, it was fantastic.

Sculpture for The Watertower Restaurant

Lawrence Armstrong from Dalkeith worked with jeweller Maike Browning to create a suspended tree sculpture that would change colour with the elements for the Watertower restaurant in Dalkeith. Owners Gerry and Susan Goldwyre hosted a barbeque on his decking for us in return.Gerry suggested we approach Dalkeith Palace for another barter which led us to the exhibition we had there in October 2014.

Lorna’s Headress with Maggie Mowbray

Lorna loves colour and accessories and worked with milliner Maggie Mowbray to create this stunning design. We see this work as an introduction to possible collaboration with hair or fashion designers looking for new and exciting collaboration. If you’d be interested in working with us, get in touch.

House sign for Edinburgh and Rural Vintage Car Hire

George Horn owns two Rolls Royce’s, both made pre 1940, and through his specialist rental company he hires them out for special occasions. He’s based in Rosslynlee, notoriously rural and hard for potential clients to find. He requested a house sign in return for use of his vintage cars. The first house sign was so lovely, it was stolen one week after we put it up, so we replaced it with another. To date George has picked people from at their homes and day centres and taken them for spins in his vintage Rolls Royce. He also offered the use of his cars at a hospital fete Artlink organised in Edinburgh.

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