LONG READ | 2021 - Collaboration Creates Possibilities

Highlights from another unexpected year. One where limitless generosity of time, spirit and creativity created many more amazing moments worth marking. Across Artlink people and projects spent another year finding new ways to work, building on the lessons learned the previous year and creating something memorable. 

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At the start of the year spirits were lifted with Friday night Zoom discos from Indepen-dance, weekly online performances from musicians, and entertainers with Thursday Live, and online performance,  music and art workshops from The Makers.

Arts Access kept bringing arts and culture into our homes with monthly newsletters featuring news, reviews, and recommendations alongside seasonal listings of accessible online offerings.

KMAdotcom and The Makers resident wordsmith Marc Smith got us all reading with the inaugural publication of his magazine MARC MY WORDS featuring his poetry, artwork and an interview with Tate curator Linsey Young.

For those who wanted to learn something new In Stitches our online sewing project was born. A remote gathering of wannabe embroiderers and master sewers, who shared their ideas and inspiration, to produce some incredible textile pieces.

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Spring brought a chance to venture out further, with members of Arts Access enjoying trips around Edinburgh with Lissa and Betsy the tri-shaw. From Bruntsfield, and The Meadows to The Botanics, Arts Access and Vintage Club members loved whizzing through the streets, parks and gardens of the City, with outings sparking impromptu poetry recitals and usually ending with some alfresco refreshments. As the year progressed trips to museums, galleries, pop-up outdoor events at the Festival, and finally panto, have all be possible with the help of our fantastic volunteers.

In Midlothian Artlink and Cherry Road continued to work together on an Outreach Programme that included bringing performers into people’s gardens and outdoor spaces as the weather brightened and restrictions allowed with Thursday Live on Tour.

The Socialites continued to support young people across Midlothian and East Lothian with personalised workshops online and in real life when restrictions lifted for over 70 young people, with the project featuring in Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland’s June event ‘The Role of Culture in the Health and Wellbeing of Young People.’ One Socialite Ruby Stone transported us to another world with her ‘Book of Miscreations’ a perfect tonic for the times, which proved so popular that the initial release of her publication sold out in the first week!

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As the year continued KMAdotcom were delighted to reunite in the studio, meet some of the new members, and start collaborating in person. For a hefty dose of creative inspiration make sure to check out their Instagram.

Long-time KMAdotcom collaborators Leanne Ross and Laura Aldridge had great success with an acclaimed group show at Glasgow International Visual Arts Festival, a feature in Scottish Contemporary Art Networks #ArtUnlocks…Wellbeing blog, and taking work to Frieze London, which saw Leanne’s work bought by many collectors including the Government Art Collection!

Curious Routes and Leylines continued exploring their shared love of making, gardening and collaborative conversations, with work expanding out to include new projects and locations with Pentland Court, St John’s Hospital, a new studio at Howden Park Centre and the gorgeous surroundings of Suntrap Studio and Garden.

Carrying on from last year’s lockdown film collaboration A Frame is Not a State of Mind Chris McAdam and James McLardy produced another film Summer into Autumn, with Chris and James recently speaking about their process during Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland’s December event ‘A Frame is not a State of Mind – Artist Talk/Creative Coffee Break Conversation’

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At the Hospitals our fantastic volunteers at The Glasshouses, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, helped tame the post lockdown garden, worked on DIY projects to adapt the internal space, got involved in creative workshops and of course enjoyed plenty of tea, cake and chats – you can check out what they’ve been up to on their new page Friends of the Glasshouses

Common Thread has been one of the most popular workshops at The Glasshouses, introducing weaving and other textile techniques and taking part in craftivism for COP26 with Stitches for Survival.

Some long-term projects on the wards at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, which had been affected by shutdowns over the past year, came to an end. This included the production of a publication to accompany last year’s Edinburgh Landmarks exhibition, and Inside | Out  – the sited work and exhibition which culminated from artist Nick Evans workshops. Check out Nick’s tour of his studio for the project members here.

This is just a fraction of the fantastic work that projects have been up to, stay tuned for more updates and exciting events in the New Year. Wishing everyone a peaceful festive break and hoping for a brighter 2022. 

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