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AnnuAl Review 2011/12

artlink

SupportS the right

to participate in cultural life regardleSS

of diSability
by drawing on lived experienceS

promoteS diverSity

to inform artS

reSponSeS which are
relevant and enduring

challengeS every day inequalitieS
by encouraging
and organiSationS

creative thinking
encourageS individualS

to offer poSitive SolutionS

from diverSe backgroundS
learnS through
challenging our own practice in purSuit of

to work together
(cover) Vic Macrae designs for Beehive as part of artlink Collaborates

open dialogue;

our idealS

Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

Every year we present the work of Artlink from a different perspective, to give the reader a glimpse of the many ways in which it works. This year we decided to look more closely at Artlink’s aims, in the form of a manifesto. In her essay Kirsten Lloyd has considered how Artlink’s staff articulate the organisation’s values and how these aims inform what they do. She pays particular attention to the ethics of care that underpin Artlink’s work: the art of being with others. We hope you enjoy reading this annual review and would like to thank everyone who works with us for their continued interest in and support of Artlink.

Kirsten Lloyd is Associate Curator at Stills, Edinburgh and a PhD candidate in the History of Art department at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently curating a three-year programme of exhibitions, workshops, talks and residencies entitled Social Documents which examines artists’ mediation of social, political and economic realities (www.stills.org/social-documents).

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Being With

Written by Kirsten Lloyd

The art of telling stories continues to thrive in the twenty-first century, adapting with ease to new forms and functions. Just as Facebook’s timeline pulls together snippets from our everyday lives to create easily digestible narratives, ‘purposeful storytelling’ has become a vital brand management tool. Achieving something more akin to the experience of a face-to-face connection, narrative enables the storyteller to move beyond dry facts and figures to weave a more intimate, persuasive and productive bond. How well, then, does Artlink communicate the story of its work? The organisation has an enviable reputation for developing quality programmes in a broad range of contexts; they work with remarkable artists and have established partnerships with, among many others, specialists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rhode Island School of Design. There’s certainly no shortage of things to shout about, yet many aspects of their projects remain stubbornly hidden, invisible except to those directly involved. While the most obvious strategy may be to package successes into colourful, celebratory sound bites aimed at attracting investors, they have instead opted to invite external storytellers to offer their own distinctive accounts. Such commentaries give an opportunity to look through the eyes of others and thereby expand the narratives around their work. This approach is very much in keeping with the organisation’s desire to understand more deeply their own responses to the contexts in which they work and contribute to the networks of shared knowledge within the field. As part of this process I have been invited to distil and reflect upon my expansive discussions with Artlink’s team. Though summarising the considerable breadth of their activities would be an impossible task, through our conversations it quickly became apparent that everything they do flows from some commonly (and passionately) held beliefs. The aim here, then, is to begin to consider Artlink’s ethos and how it informs their responses – the eclectic range of tailored projects and programmes which are developed with and around individuals who experience disadvantage
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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

or disability. ‘It’s not about the organisation, it’s about the people that we work with.’ I began by asking about the contexts in which Artlink works. Rather than explain their unique place at the intersection of the culture, health and social care sectors, or recount a list of funders and strategic partners, Director Jan-Bert van den Berg instinctively began from a radically different angle, describing their contexts as ‘wherever the people we work with find themselves’. Approaching each situation from the inside-out, Artlink’s programme coordinators seek to understand the complex influences which shape day-to-day realities, including how policies filter down to touch upon lives. The insights which emerge enable them to devise creative responses which expand beyond the individual participant to engage with their broader circumstances. Resolutely avoiding those models which parachute artists in for short-term, high profile projects, in each instance they seek to make a concrete and sustainable difference. Such an approach sounds simple enough, but it prompts some difficult questions. For starters, how can the necessary energy levels be sustained across creative programmes that often span decades? If long-term engagements are an essential condition for success, can Artlink avoid becoming part of the system to operate as yet another ‘supplier’? How does a small arts organisation find ways to productively engage with large-scale (and often highly bureaucratic) institutions? And what constitutes a ‘concrete difference’ or, for that matter, the ‘social change’ envisioned in Artlink’s manifesto? With over 42 years of combined experience within the organisation between them, Jan-Bert and Artistic Director Alison Stirling are all too aware of the challenges. They note that the tenacity that this length of service suggests is reflected right across the organisation’s staff where programme coordinators and artists have often worked together for many years. The team chalk up a great deal of their success to this living archive of collective knowledge which is carefully nurtured and passed on as more experienced artists informally mentor newcomers. They also frequently talk of a refusal to remain static, an ability to adapt to constantly changing

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surroundings, and, above all, a fervent desire to keep learning. Three interlinking themes recur during the course of our discussions, namely Artlink’s prized independence, their commitment to working collaboratively and their grounded, pragmatic approach. Firstly then, Artlink value their autonomy highly. Though it may seem like a contradiction, their method of working from the inside-out demands that, in some senses at least, they remain outsiders. For one thing, their independence and flexibility marks them apart from other types of internal provision. Keeping a critical distance allows the space required to identify the gaps that exist and find ways to manoeuvre into them. But they are the first to admit that the close relationships they build with staff within these institutional structures are crucial to the success of their work. Artlink have a fantastic track-record in identifying and involving such people: from support workers and healthcare staff to cleaners, administrators, chaplains and gardeners, they each bring expertise, trust and enthusiasm to projects. The programme coordinator’s task is to combine the energies of staff, the participants themselves, artists, local organisations and families, enabling them all to share experiences to develop new ways of thinking and alternative ways of working. Each person’s contribution is integral to ensuring that programmes can be sustained over time and genuinely integrated into lives. Here, an essential feature of Artlink’s ethos is affirmed: it’s not about the organisation or the artists they employ. It’s not even just about the service users and participants, rather it’s working around a common point of interest to create a response which fits with all of these people and the organic networks that they form. Collaboration is an easy term to use but it’s a hard concept to define: collective working and exchange are certainly powerful ideals but, in practice, forging and maintaining genuinely collaborative relationships is extremely difficult. The team readily acknowledge that it will always be a learning process and that sometimes things don’t quite work out. Alison notes: ‘Often it’s the problematic projects that allow us to take a big leap forwards in terms of development, helping us to

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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

understand how to structure a particular collaboration.’ But as the organisation gets better and better at choreographing relationships and contexts they gain deeper insights into what is possible. The balance of contribution in each instance is not always equal and Artlink certainly don’t plan responses on the basis of percentage splits. Instead they seek to ‘work’ those balances well to ensure that the participant is able to realise the highest possible level of agency. Ultimately for them, collaboration means allowing the individual to exert the greatest possible influence over his or her surroundings and opening out notions of authorship to ‘share responsibility for an idea’. Throughout our discussions we keep coming back to Artlink’s emphasis on the reality of day-to-day situations. This relentlessly practical focus allows them to learn and grow through doing but it also underpins their approach to measuring the success of their work. The concrete differences they speak of are not spectacular events or revolutions, rather they can be anything from minute, nearly imperceptible changes as demonstrated by The Ideas Team programme. Setting the simple aim of developing a project which is of practical benefit, a group of ‘experts’ is built around an individual with profound learning disabilities. At present they are involved in adapting a piano for a project designed to help one young man gain some understanding of cause and effect. This focus on making a useful object has given all contributors – from the participant and his family, right through to therapists, psychologists and the artists – the opportunity to explore issues from a creative perspective. It all takes time, but for Artlink it’s the accumulation of small shifts in experience at a truly local level that effects real social change. Art WorK Looking at Artlink’s broad range of projects it’s obvious that their understanding of what art can be and how artists operate is somewhat different from the usual models. The conventional formula whereby the solitary artist produces an art object to be viewed by audiences simply wouldn’t work in the contexts in which they operate. Instead, questions of authorship are deliberately left open and an ‘artwork’ is more

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likely to be described as a process or a moment. Of course, ‘collaboration’, ‘social engagement and ‘participation’ have become buzzwords over the past few years as artists once again turn their attention to social issues and realities. But it’s worth noting that in many ways the mainstream artworld is only recently beginning to catch up with developments that have been underway in what has often been derogatorily called ‘community art’ for decades. While Artlink’s staff are understandably interested in these changes they’re keenly aware of what differentiates their work: ‘Ultimately it’s where you place the emphasis that matters’, says Jan-Bert,

‘If you begin with the social perspective then art has an opportunity to operate seriously within this wider field. But if you start from the artworld and try to bring in social themes then tensions inevitably develop because this approach often continues to frame the artist as having a unique and special viewpoint rather than as just one person among many, each of whom have a unique and valuable experience.’
A consideration of ethical issues is a daily challenge for Artlink’s staff and artists: each project involves constantly checking the balances of power and responsibility within the relationships at play. Of course, it’s now essential for an organisation that receives public funds to have an ethics policy in place. However, taken in it broadest sense the meaning of ‘ethics’ expands far beyond dry guidelines and conduct codes to be concerned with ways of dwelling in the world and being with others. With this definition in mind it seems to me that an ethics of care lies at the heart of Artlink’s ethos. Their focus on face-to-face encounters and dialogue seems to speak directly to the values of care ethics which are not so concerned with abstract generalisations or

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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

notions of universal morality but instead privilege sensitivity and responsiveness to particular individuals as a means to achieve justice. Seen from this perspective, Artlink find new ways to enmesh ethics and aesthetics in order to build their truly unique creative responses. Future StorieS Artlink’s considerable experience gives them a real confidence, an ability to step back from the cycle of ever-changing circumstances and to view things from a different perspective. That said, part of the directors’ role is to anticipate future challenges and they are particularly concerned by what they see as a dramatic hardening of public attitudes towards vulnerable people and the increasing marketisation of social care provision. Specifically, they feel that, unless carefully managed, the introduction of a self-directed payment system could result in the fragmentation of vital infrastructures. In such shifting terrains it is vital that Artlink looks to the future by both drawing upon the knowledge housed within their ‘living archives’ and holding on to their commitment to push the parameters of their practice. In Alison Stirling’s words:

‘it’s about not thinking that you know, it’s about understanding that you continually need to learn’.
While a great deal will inevitably remain hidden, in continuing to create opportunities for people to work together, share their experience and pool their expertise, Artlink’s stories will carry on flowing. Told within small groupings and sometimes extending to larger audiences their narratives will no doubt continue to move and influence.

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our YeAr in numBerS

255 Volunteers 15,386 sessions

2190 ParticiPants

1,800 outings

81 artists 24 exhibitions 95 eVents

60 Performances 53,900 audiences

(pg11) George Robertson working on a beehive (pg12) In the Frame, an artists’ walk led by Anthony Schrag (pg13) Young people’s outing to JLS concert (pg14) Royal Edinburgh Hospital Summer Fete featuring the Gnome Olympics made by staff and patients

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ArtlInk AnnuAl revIew 2011/12

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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

ArtLinK netWorKS
We view hospitals as small communities, each with its own network of skills and interests just waiting to be tapped in to. Our work is designed to de-stress, offering time out for staff as well as patients, to learn a new skill, enhance the hospital environment, or just think about something altogether different. To this end, each hospital has its own very distinct set of exhibitions and activities, informed by the interests of the staff and patients in the hospitals. In the Western we have Crafty Lunches – a break for staff and patients to learn a new craft and the launch of a lunchtime choir; The Royal Infirmary – artworks inspired and made by staff and patients adorn the walls; St Johns – patients and staff design their own motifs for hospital furniture, screens and canteen cups and saucers; and for the Royal Edinburgh Hospital emphasis is on creating long term opportunities for staff and patients to work together, encouraging a positive sense of community. Activity is built around workshops in the Glasshouses and events such as the Summer Fete when staff and patients designed and made their very own Gnome Olympic Village. Artist Team Leader: Anne elliot Gallery & Events Coordinator: kirsty williams Growing Plots: Alex wilde

(above) Gloria, Sheila and Pat with the canteen crockery designed by Frances Priest, staff and patients at St. Johns (right) Performance in the main foyer of Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh

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ArtLinK ConneCtS
The Arts Access service provides a range of opportunities to engage with the arts, from going to an exhibition, a play or the cinema to devising creative ways to improve access to the arts. It’s all about opening up new perspectives, looking for other possibilities and taking chances. We start with existing access approaches and we add to them. Projects include: The creation of the Vintage Club for the over 85’s - tours of exhibitions, talks and events organized throughout the year; Let Loose, a collection of new writing, which looks at the visual intimacy of dance from the perspective of people with hearing loss; a wide variety of creative tours for people with visual impairments given by artists and writers in locations throughout Edinburgh. Coordinator: Sally Primrose Audience Development Officer: Susan humble Worker: Morven Crumlish
(below) A tour of the James Cumming exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery for Artlink’s Vintage Club

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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

ArtLinK invoLveS
As changes take place in the ways people with learning disabilities access their day service, there is an obvious tension between meeting individual needs and providing regular activity for a wide number of people. Our response has been to work closely with people with learning disabilities, their parents, social workers, carers and day service providers, enhancing what is already available, as well as responding to the gaps they see arising from current provision. As a result, we work across generations, in different communities, offering a multitude of workshops and events based on what people are interested in and providing the support they require to get involved. Examples of programmes include: supported social outings for young people to make friends and spend time together; the creation of a series of commissioned artworks for local businesses in exchange for services or products; wider choice in the form of a diverse menu of workshops from feeling music through vibration to designing your own tattoo. Programme Co-ordinator: kara Christine Programme Development Worker: Annabel Bartle

(top) Alan Faulds working on the Barter Project (above) Midlothian Crafters’ sign as part of the Barter Project (right) Cousland Smiddy allotment sign as part of the Barter Project

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ArtLinK experimentS
Sustaining activity which stimulates people with profound learning disabilities is a hard task and to do that on a daily basis is difficult to maintain. Artlink have created a space for exploration and experimentation which uses the unique responses of individuals to trigger new ways of working. It does this in two ways: firstly through regular workshops, where artists work on a one to one basis or with small groups of people. Secondly through The Ideas Team, where groups are formed around an individual with a view to informing the making of something of practical interest to the person with profound learning disabilities. Examples of projects include – A seminar at the Glasgow Conservatoire, discussing artists approaches in developing sensory based artworks; a series of training opportunities for day care staff; a regular programme of sensory workshops; regular Ideas Teams meetings in which psychologists, care workers, parents, therapists and artists are adapting pianos, making sensory explorers kits and creating innovative support structures. Programme Co-ordinator: kara Christine Ideas Team initiator: Alison Stirling Ideas Team Lead Artist: Steve hollingsworth

(top) Sensory Space made by artists Laura Aldridge and Steve Hollingsworth (above) Training workshops for Cherry Road staff run by Steve Hollingsworth (left) Piano prototype made by artists Lauren Hayes and Steve Hollingsworth as part of The Ideas Team

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Artlink AnnuAl review 2011/12

ArtLinK CoLLABorAteS
For people with enduring mental health problems it is difficult to find structure within their every day lives. As a result many people find it challenging to fit into existing groups, even to get out of the house to attend. The work is designed around each individual, it starts with what interests them and then works with the person to build up their skills, and then slowly, carefully begins to build a group around that developing interest. The project then quite simply taps into the skills and resources of local groups, establishing meaningful collaborations.
(below) The Art of Fly Fishing in collaboration with the Cramond Angling Club (bottom) Site visit to Smails printworks

Examples of recent projects include: The Art of Fly Fishing – linking with Cramond Angling Club; Building a Beehive – working with Edinburgh Beekeepers association and the Chippendale School of Furniture; Gardening Skills – working with Bridgend Community Allotments at Whyte Place; making a Graphic novel – working with West Lothian Library Services. Lead Artist: Patrick O’growney Programme Development Worker: Annabel Bartle

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BoArd oF direCtorS Betty Barber – Chair (retired 23/3/12) Dr Michael Affolter – Vice Chair Colin Scott – Treasurer Gavin McEwan, Turcan Connell – Secretary Caroline Barr – Chair (appointed 21/11/12) Anna Becker Dr David Wright Carol Stevenson Norma MacDonald Margaret Coupe Bertha Walker Adrienne Chalmers ArtLinK AdminiStrAtive teAm Vanessa Cameron – Administrative Coordinator Nicky Regan – Programme Support worker Alison Thorburn – Bookkeeper projeCt FunderS The Arts Company, Alzheimer Scotland, The Bacher Trust, The Binks Trust, City of Edinburgh Council – South Central Neighbourhood Partnership, Creative Scotland – MIT, Creative Scotland – Older People, Creative Scotland – Partners, Creative Scotland – Resilience, Evelyn Drysdale Charitable Trust, Edinburgh Bar Association Benevolent Trust, Fruitmarket Gallery, Link Living, Midlothian Community Hospital, NHS Lothian Endowments, NHS Lothian Capital & Projects, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, The Russell Trust, Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, Scottish Government, Saints and Sinners Club of Scotland, State Street Matched Funding, St John’s Hospital Palliative Care, Tyne-Esk leader Fund, West Port Book Festival, William Grant & Sons, Alma and Leslie Wolfson Charitable Trust and Individual payments from personalised budgets. ArtiStS Laura Aldridge, Onya Attridge, Sophie Bancroft, Claire Barclay, Jon Barnes, Kath Bateman, Mina Braun, Maike Browning, Juliana Capes, Ken Cockburn, Jim Colquhoun, Anne Marie Copestake, Deloris Cowan, Morven Crumlish, Bruce Davies, Kelly Dobson, Malcy Duff, Amanda Drollinger,Yamil Ferrera,

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Lauren Fox, Andy Fraser, Vicki Fleck, Fly Right Dance Co, David Forsyth, Charlie Hammond, Alexa Hart, Lauren Hayes, Steve Hollingsworth, Wendy Jacob, Haleh Jamali, David Kinloch, Emily Learmont , Kirsten Lloyd, Eilidh Macaskill, Chris Macefield, Laura Marney, Janet McCorie, Louisa McDaid, Stephen McGarry, Kate McKay, Shona McVey, Dylan Mitchell, Douglas Morland, Maggie Mowbray, Yvonne Mullock, Francesca Nobilucci, Patricia Salvo de Oliveira, Katie Orton, Jon Owen, Laure Patterson, Ciara Phillips, Charan Pradhan, Frances Priest, Charlotte Prodger, Bernie Reid, Ali Richardson, Lucy Roscoe, Anthony Schrag, Ewan Sinclair, Neil Simpson, Laura Spring, David Stinton, Tim Vincent Smith, Derek Sutherland, The Bellrock Co, The Duo, Tom Watson, Sonya Witts, Alex Wilde, Drew Wright, Chi Zang. voLunteer ArtiStS Accord Ladies Choir, Linda Gillan School of Highland Dancing, Brodie Maud Murphy Sim, Roisin Russell, Lizzy Shamash, The Accidentals, The African & Arabic Dance Society, Claire Wright, Kate Young, Douglas C. Hall. Support WorKerS Kirstyn Cameron, Jonathan Gray, Sarah Hamilton, Marie Hernqvist, John Johnston, Elly Landrock, Eveline Nicolette, Scott Read, West Lothian Angling Association, North Barn Quilters, Cramond Angling Club, David Wright and Edinburgh and Midlothian beekeepers Association, Mandy Beveridge, Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, Historic Scotland, Hopetoun House, Cammo Estate, Pillar of Hercules, Doctor Neil’s garden, Pentland Rangers service, Edinburgh Edible gardening project at the Botanics. teChniCiAnS Sandy Christie, Fraser Douglas, Martin McKenna, Thomas Laycock, Maciej Sczcotka. progrAmme voLunteerS Gillian Carr, Leighanne Dickson, Jill Foster, Kate Foster, Valerie Gordon, Dominic Stevens, BCTV volunteer teams, Volunteer centre staff at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

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Find out more
If you would like to find out more about Artlink or you are interested in volunteering please feel free to contact us by either telephone, email or in writing. This publication is available in PDF, Braille, Tape and Large print formats, please contact Artlink for your copy. A full set of accounts is available from the Artlink office. Artlink edinburgh and the lothians 13a Spittal Street edinburgh eh3 9DY Telephone: 0131 229 3555 Email: info@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk Website: www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk Social Media: www.facebook.com/Artlinkedinburgh
Artlink is a company registered in Scotland No. 87845 with charitable status, Scottish Charity No. SC006845

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Design: tesswood.com

OUr COre FUnDerS

this project is part financed by the Scottish Government and the european Community tyne esk leader 2007–2013 programme.

Artlink believes that participation in the arts has an important role to play in realising personal goals and social change.