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.
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”
On a sunny afternoon, three years ago in our community garden at Whyte Place, the conversation somehow got onto beekeeping. It often happens, as we chat we meander into different subjects and then hit on something that gels.
Our work with the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) can be traced back to that conversation and the workshops by local beekeeper David Wright which followed. This growing interest sparked an idea to make hives and led us to the Chippendale School of Furniture in Gifford where we designed and built two. A group of us were then inspired to complete the SBA’s ‘Introduction to Beekeeping Course’ in 2013.
Our growing confidence in design and making came to the attention of the Scottish Beekeeping Association. They asked us to help freshen up the look of their tent for the 2014 Royal Highland Show. We designed exhibition furniture for the entrance and tables with marquetry veneers for the wax workshop area. Our visual artists produced honey sampling ceramics and pollen coloured aprons for the SBA stewards.
We’ve extended the product range this year. Again drawing on the fantastic individual design and making skills, we have created honey dispensers and a tasting bar with technical support from ceramicist Frances Priest and furniture maker Susan Harper. Susan has also guided the redesign of the SBA merchandising area. Artist Francesca Nobulicci gave suggestions on creating an overall visual identity which links all the different elements together.
The work forms new partnerships between the talents of artists with mental health problems and others who share their interests. This process has forged new and closer working relationships not only with the SBA but also with Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts and Basic Mountain Studio.
We thrive on the input of local expertise and specialist knowledge. The opportunity to expand our horizons and use our skills in different ways keeps our ideas fresh and our motivation high. Each product has a story, so if you are at the Royal Highland Show please come to the Scottish Beekeepers Association tent and say hello – we’ll be the ones wearing bee pollen coloured workers aprons. We will be delighted to tell you more about the work and are always interested in forging new partnerships.
The Royal Highland Show – Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st June.
The artists who have created the furniture, textiles and ceramics are: Chelley Campbell, Ian Monteith, Richard Gardener, Alex Erskine, Franco D’Acunto, Neil McKay, Julie Busk, Lewis Reay, Leigh SK, Vic MacRae, Aidan Stephen, Frank Merry, Jeremy Roberts, George Robertson, Nuala Boyle, Helen Peak and James Carter.
Artlink connects the creative skills of artists with mental health problems to people and organisations who share their interests.
Or follow #CuriousRoutes
At the start of October 2013 Artlink and the Scottish Beekeepers Association met to discuss the possibility of working together to create a welcoming and interesting display for the 2014 Royal Highland Show. When we took these initial discussions to our participants, a team of designers and makers quickly formed to create the series of unique commissions which you can peruse at your leisure in the Bee Store.
Creating a welcoming entrance for the RHS Scottish Beekeepers display tent proved to be a real test. We had many ideas, but ultimately a hexagonal structure you see is the initial idea of Aidan Stephen. The rest of our team George Robertson, Ian Monteith, Iain Dunne, Vic Macrae, Helen Peak, James Carter and John Paul Costello brought together their ideas and skills to create this structure with furniture designer and maker Susan Harper.
Bees and beekeeping have an endless amount of facts to get absorbed in. In our studio we further immersed ourselves in the topic, which evolved into designs for three tables inlaid with marquetry. Each table carries a particular motif or piece of information that is illustrative of the team’s ideas.
Of the many talents inherent within our team is their interest in design and the practical use of everyday items. Julie Busk, Jeremy Roberts, Lewis Reay, Aidan Stephen and Leigh SK set about creating a range of ceramic and patterned designs with the skilled input of artist and ceramicist Frances Priest.
Jeremy Robert’s illustrations are the main design you see on the work aprons crafted by Annabel Bartle in a series of five unique pollen colour inspired designs.
Over the last months we have been working with visual artists Andrew Gannon to create a unique series of one-off posters, documenting our beekeeping activities to date. Andrew’s own practice is very much informed by the documentation of his life performances in poster format – go and have a look at his latest work!
June 2013 – On the 30th of May our double Smith hives are delivered to Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association’s apiary in West Edinburgh. They are immediately put into use with new colonies being housed within them. The completed hives will hopefully yield some honey this year and continue to be used for many more years to come. The hives are dedicated to the memory of a true friend and participant on the project, Carolyn Ellis who sadly passed away in January 2012.
We want to continue with our endeavours in bee keeping and establish are exploring various options; from people’s gardens to placing hives on rooftops. We will continue to make our own hives and build on our experience so far in beehive making and beekeeping in Edinburgh. Recently we have been donated parts of National and Smith hives by EMBA to help us carry on our interest in beekeeping.
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May 2013 – It is time now to get our interested beekeepers skilled up. Michael Black, Iain Dunne, George Robertson, Franco D’Acunto, Jason Thomson and Patrick O’Growney complete the Introduction to Beekeeping course run by EMBA in May 2013. This beginners course consists of eight weeks information based classes and four practical visits to various apiaries in Edinburgh and West Lothian. This is your first step into keeping bees and is a fantastic intro into the do’s and don’ts of bee keeping in your area.
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