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.
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