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Annual Review 10/11

CREATIVE RESPONSES

CREATIVE RESPONSES

Annual Review 10/11

Every year we present the work of Artlink from a different perspective, to give the reader a glimpse of the many faces of Artlink. This year we invited writer Nicola White to explore Artlinks creative responses to the challenges posed by the impact of low expectations and cuts in services. An uplifting picture has emerged of an organisation which is able to adapt its ways of working to provide a critical service in ever changing times. We hope you enjoy reading this annual review and thank you for your continued interest in and support of Artlink.

Artlink Annual Review 10/11

In Artlinks publications and on their website, you will come across a short statement which reads Artlink believes participation in the arts has an important role to play in realising personal and social change. It is a proposition rather than a manifesto, and one which many of us would align ourselves with, but, really, its where Artlink takes this belief that matters, that makes it distinctive as an organisation. The challenge in describing what Artlink does is that, at any one time, the organisation is devising and co-ordinating many different projects targeted at groups of individuals with very varying needs. In order to attempt a unified essay about Artlinks work to find the common threads shared by all these projects I spoke to a range of artists and staff. Our conversations focused on the different ways that Artlink challenges the culture of low expectations and low ambition surrounding the areas of arts access and disability.

Creative Responses

Working over Time Artlink has been in existence for twenty-seven years and during that time has constantly adjusted and refined its ways of working. One of the things it has learned as an organisation is the necessity of forming long-term relationships with individuals and organisations. A good example of this is how Artlinks role at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside has developed over seventeen years. The basis for the work has been to interact with the hospital as a community, with everyone having a chance to participate and contribute. Starting from providing small-scale art workshops, Artlinks relationship with the patients and staff has grown over time so that artists are now an integral part of hospital life, their activities not additional to the life of the hospital, but part of it. For example, working alongside occupational therapists and being part of the planning group for improving the patients experience and environment. Alex Wilde, one of the artists who coordinates the extensive Growing Spaces project in the hospital grounds, says that Artlink differs from other organisations she has worked with. Often you are brought in to run workshops for six weeks and then its bye bye. But here your job is to work with the whole community, not just one section, to make connections, and that is a good role for an artist, and that is why its valuable to be there over a long period of time. The relationship of trust that has built up at the hospital allows things to happen that would not otherwise, including the revival of the hospitals own newspaper The Morningside Mirror, originally published from 1845 to 1975. The revived paper, edited by artist Ciara Phillips, profiles the interests and passions of individual staff and patients, bringing attention to the rich human complexity of those who might

Artlink Annual Review 10/11

otherwise be pigeonholed according to their role within the hospital. The paper also spreads news of all the creative opportunities and activities available at the Royal Edinburgh. Also, Artlink has supported the creation of annual festivals, such as the Summer Fete and Harvest, to mark the different stages of the year, connecting patients, staff and public to a wider sense of place and history. The necessity of working over a long timescale is further argued by Patrick OGrowney, who runs arts and mental health projects for West Lothian and Edinburgh. He talks of the necessity of tailoring what he does to the needs of the individuals he works with. People are not sure of their week to week health, so projects have to be flexible. They have to be allowed to drop out or re-enter the process, and that assumes youll be there. It takes months to really get to know a person. One chap Ive worked with for three or four years is just finding his feet now. Everyone has a different pace. And peoples needs change over time. Artlinks Arts Access programme enables many individuals in Edinburgh with a disability to get out to cultural events, and it responds to their different and developing needs in the face of age-old problems of access. Recently, Susan Humble, the Audience Development Officer, has been originating innovative projects for Arts Access clients who are sight or hearing impaired, such as an atmospheric audio description of the interiors of the Talbot Rice Gallery. Devised by poet Ken Cockburn, this audio piece explores new ways, beyond the visual, of understanding a space. She has also instigated a collaboration between writer Morven Crumlish and a group of clients with hearing impairment to develop their arts reviewing skills and give them a platform to express their experiences of using different venues. Increasingly, available funding in both the private and public sectors favours the short-term splash rather than the long-term flow. It is a constant challenge
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Creative Responses

for Artlink to secure the kind of flexible and ongoing commitment from funders that it seeks to provide for the people it serves.

A genuine exchAnge Participation in the arts is generally seen to be a good thing in and of itself, providing a means of expression and activity for those who lack opportunities for both. However, Artlink has a record of developing projects with a wider social effect, using art to make real connections into a broader community and challenging the usual assumptions of who contributes and who benefits. The Barter Project grew out of existing Artlink workshops in Midlothian, where artists worked alongside people with learning difficulties to create art objects and imagery developed according to their individual interests and enthusiasms. Having established a creative resource of skills and ideas, Projects Director Alison Stirling came up with the idea of putting this resource at the service of a wider community the group would make things for other organisations in its local area, and the organisations would provide something for the group in return. This would set up a meaningful exchange, with opportunities for creativity and learning on both sides. Recently the group made patisserie-inspired fascinators for a catering company in return for cookery lessons, created soft furnishings for a local nursing home in exchange for a hosted bingo morning, and devised personalised mugs and bunting for a pigeon club in Haddington. In return, the pigeon club demonstrated pigeon handling and release. For the individuals in the group, the project provides a wide range of experiences outside the routine and domestic, experiences they have earned through their own creative skills.

Artlink Annual Review 10/11

Kara Christine, who co-ordinates the project, says that when she contacts new organisations, it is from the point of view of what the group can do for them How can we help? not How can you help us? And the response from the community organisations has been both positive and creative. I think it lifts their spirits especially in these tough times, says Kara, People like connecting with different human experiences, and the organisations feel they are getting something that has been made just for them, they are genuinely touched by that. The collaborations that Artlink forges seek to be genuine exchanges, where not only artists and individuals, but wider circles of community, care professionals, and amateur enthusiasts come together and exchange ideas and experiences. As artist Jonathan Owen says, A good collaboration is where everyone gets to contribute and no-one is compromised.

A Wider conversATion This principal of exchange is also evident in the way in which Artlink brings in expertise and ideas from different outside sources, not only beyond the disability arts field but from the territories of science and new technology. Developing relationships with scientists, designers and computing specialists have given Artlink access to cutting edge technologies that can be used in a creative way to enhance communication with people with complex support needs. An example of this is the way in which Artlinks relationship with researchers and artists at MIT in Boston has provided access to new resources, such as the innovative Glowdoodle interactive software designed by Eric Rosenbaum which is now used as part of the Partners Project in

Creative Responses

Midlothian. The project devises enveloping sensory environments which provide new and satisfying modes of expression for people with profound learning difficulties. These environments, created by Artlinks sensory artists, show the organisations work at its most challenging and improvisational. The central question that informs the work, artist Steve Hollingsworth says, is How do we give people a voice who dont have one? People with very high support needs tend to exist in a world thats dictated by the people that work around them. They can often be viewed as static, they cant tell you what they like. They cant say turn that off. Their work respects the individuality of the people they work with and aims for genuine involvement, using sound, light, smell and touch to explore possibilities of communication beyond conventional language. Steve mentions a wide range of influences for this work, not only technological developments, but philosophical theories of self and otherness, the work of other contemporary artists, bands he has seen. He doesnt confine either his ambition or spheres of reference because he is working in the context of disability. Quite the opposite. How we work with people has really changed and expanded, Steve says, Its brought in so many new ideas, it feels infinite and interesting. You always look back at what has gone to create a way to move forward. Every week is different. I think that this spirit of experimentation and improvisation informs all of Artlinks work, but Alison Stirling makes it clear its not a question of novelty seeking. Its about changing peoples perceptions and challenging yourself, your own assumptions about art or ways of working with people with

Artlink Annual Review 10/11

a disability. Sometimes this can be difficult, it can lead to even more questions than answers, but it is how we learn and continue to develop our work. While being proud of things they have achieved, I would say that Artlink, as an organisation, is chiefly characterised by a lack of complacency. In the face of limited resources and low expectations, it has developed teams of talented artists, care workers and managers with a subtle and complex understanding of the contexts they work in. The work is an exchange and an ongoing conversation it brings in the wide world and goes out to meet it. Its also very much about the individual. The lead artist for Artlinks work in hospitals, Anne Elliot, sums up the essence of her approach in this way: Put the person first. Work to their strengths and interests, then relate that to the bigger picture. I find it hard not to wish that Artlinks approach could be adapted all over Scotland, not just within the Edinburgh and Lothians area, but Director Jan-Bert van den Berg says I am missing the point. Its not about Artlink telling other people how they should do stuff, its about us achieving the best we possibly can and if the work is of high enough quality, it will stand up for itself. That being said, we are beginning to explore innovative ways in which ideas and expertise can be exchanged. With disability, what people see most of the time are the limitations, rather than the possibilities. Given the scarcity of resources, people are grateful for whatever they can get, and there is a danger that mediocre projects, simple time fillers, can flourish. Artlink demonstrates an ambition beyond the usual, and a determination to address the low expectations that they meet in their field of work.

Creative Responses

As Kara Christine comments, When you read Artlinks strapline you think thats a hell of an ambitious statement to make, but when you look at the individual projects and how they work, you understand how that translates practically and how that involvement, even if its small scale, can enrich someones existence for that time and make them more connected to where they are.

(opposite) Artist Vicky Fleck and her trolley promoting Growing Week, Royal Edinburgh Hospital (pg12, left to right) Volunteers working on the Growing Plots at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Kevin Clark showing the Livvie graphic novel at Almondbank Library, West Lothian In the Frame visit for individuals with visual impairment to Jupiter Artland, West Lothian Music workshop at Eric Liddell Centre with musician Lauren Hayes The Diggers walking group at the Water of Leith Alan Faulds presenting a Pigeon flag for Haddington & District Homing Society (pg13, left to right) Staff doodle exhibition at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh curated by Kirsty Macdonald Artist Alex Wilde gearing up for Harvest Week at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Rose-June Baigrie experimenting at the sensory workshops at John Chant Centre, Penicuik Public sculpture at Midlothian Community Hospital by artist James McLardy Staff doodle from Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh workshops Jeanette Bell and Laura Spring sewing at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

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Artlink Annual Review 10/11

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Creative Responses

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Artlink Annual Review 10/11

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Artlink Annual Review 10/11

our YeAr in numBers

(opposite) Weaving demonstration as part of an In the Frame visit for individuals with visual impairment to Dovecot Studios

1,130 13,560 1,840 73 154 26 90 56 45,800


Artists Volunteers Exhibitions Events Performances
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Participants

Sessions

Outings

Audiences

Creative Responses

Artlink is an innovative, forward-thinking organisation prepared to take risks. We are always trying out new ideas that push the boundaries of existing work in our field. Our aim is to challenge existing perspectives and change attitudes, creating opportunities for people to learn from each other, share ideas, continually developing groundbreaking ways of working.
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Jim Duncan and Ciara Philips screen printing at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Artlink Annual Review 10/11

Artlink netWOrks Our arts programme in hospitals across the Lothians, builds partnerships with patients, staff and the public. We encourage patients and staff to gain a new experience or skill and support the hospital community to improve their environment. The programme supports four exhibition spaces with a varied programme, organises performing and visual arts events and commissions artists to make work with specific relevance to the healthcare situation. Artist Team Leader: Anne Elliot Gallery & Events Coordinator: Kirsty Macdonald Funders: NHS Lothian Endowments, NHS Lothian Capital & Projects, Creative Scotland, St Johns Hospital Palliative Care, Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Artlink invOlves A flexible programme of opportunities for people with learning disabilities to participate, inform, and develop activity which reflects their unique interests and circumstances. We create long and short term activity which supports the individual to contribute to their community as well as take part in developmental activity which responds to and looks for solutions to the everyday situations they face. Programme Co-ordinator: Kara Christine Funders: Midlothian Council, Tyne-Esk leader Fund and Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Partners, City of Edinburgh Council and Direct Payments form individual budgets.

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Creative Responses

Artlink eXPeriMents We create opportunities to engage in research and develop ground breaking practice which challenge our understanding of everyday situations. The focus of the work is on the individual and brings in outside knowledge in conceptual and practical thinking from scientists, academics, artists, carers and other specialists to create a new understanding of artistic practice within very specific situations. We are working towards turning an ordinary day centre for people with complex learning disabilities into a place of innovation and creativity. Coordinator: Alison Stirling Collaborators: Liz Davison (Midlothian Council), Wendy Jacob (MIT), Kelly Dobson (MIT & RISD), Eric Rosenbaum (MIT), Dr Robert Whalley (NHS Lothian), Dr Karen Goodall (Queen Margaret University), Sarah Kettley (Nottingham Trent University), Hazel White (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art), DK Arvind (Edinburgh University), Anne MacDonald & Frank Slokan (The Richmond Fellowship Scotland), Mary Jane Jacob (School of the Art Institute Chicago), Nicola White, Jonathan Owen, Kara Christine, Jan-Bert van den Berg & Laura Aldridge (Artlink), staff and parents at Cherry Road Resource Centre.

Artlink COllAbOrAtes We support people experiencing mental health problems to develop meaningful opportunities to pursue their creative interests. These interests inform, direct and support activity within flexible interest based social networks. Artists support activity and mentor individuals and groups to develop their involvement and expertise within activities which imaginatively responds to very different needs. Lead Artists: Patrick OGrowney Funders: City of Edinburgh Council, West Lothian Council, City of Edinburgh Council; Fairer Scotland Fund, Link Living, Creative Scotland.

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Artlink Annual Review 10/11

Artlink COnneCts We bring together people with disabilities, venues, artists and organisations to improve access to the arts. The Arts Access service provides a range of opportunities to engage with the arts. We offer individual support, develop imaginative access programmes with artists & arts organisations and work with venues to remove barriers to access and participation in the arts. Coordinator: Sally Primrose Audience Development Officer: Susan Humble Assistant: Morven Crumlish Partner Organisations: City Art Centre, Coburg House Studios, Dovecot, Edinburgh Festival Theatres, Edinburgh University, Eric Liddle Day Care, Federation of Scottish Theatre, Filmhouse, Fruitmarket Gallery, Hearing Concern Link, Jupiter Artland, Mansfield Traquair Centre, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, National Library of Scotland, Palace of Holyrood - Queens Gallery, RNIB, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Story Telling Centre, Talbot Rice Gallery, Traverse Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Royal Botanic Gardens. Funders: City of Edinburgh Council, South Central Neighbourhood Partnership, Midlothian Council, Creative Scotland AmbITion, The Robertson Trust, Edinburgh Bar Association Benevolent Trust, State Street Matched Funding, Royal Bank of Scotland, Greggs Foundation.

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Creative Responses

bOArD OF DireCtOrs Betty Barber Chair Dr Michael Affolter Vice Chair Colin Scott Treasurer Gavin McEwan, Turcan Connell Secretary Caroline Barr Anna Becker Dr David Wright Carol Stevenson Norma MacDonald Artlink ADMinistrAtive teAM Vanessa Cameron Administrative Coordinator Anna Chapman Programme Support worker Rosie Palmer Maternity Cover/Project Worker Alison Thorburn Bookkeeper GenerAl AnD COre FUnDers Creative Scotland City of Edinburgh Council Midlothian Council West Lothian Council NHS Lothian Endowments Charity Baw Cruden Foundation Evelyn Drysdale Charitable Trust Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust Lothian Health Promotion Service Lothian Substance Misuse Directorate Mrs MA Lascelles Charitable Trust Martin Connell Charitable Trust Nancy Massie Charitable Trust The Miller Foundation Saints and Sinners Club of Scotland William Grant & Sons

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Artlink Annual Review 10/11

Artists Laura Aldridge, Evan Alston, Claire Barclay, Annabel Bartle, Jenni Brooks, Amelia Calvert, Juliana Capes, Kirstyn Cameron, Ken Cockburn, Jim Colquhoun, Annie Copestake, Morven Crumlish, Anne Donovan, Malcy Duff, James Fleming, Andy Fraser, Louise Fraser, Vicki Fleck, Lisa Gallagher, Saskia Gavin, Lotte Gertz, Tina Gilbert, Lauren Hayes, Steve Hollingsworth, Haleh Jamali, Jung In Jung, Lisa Lennox, Chris Macefield, Simon Matthews, Fiona McGavin, Kate MacKay, James McLardy, Conal McStravick, Laura Marney, Yvonne Mullock, Laura Murray, Francesca Nobilucci, Jonathan Owen, Martin Parker, Nicola Party, Laure Paterson, Charlotte Prodger, Ciara Philips, Frances Priest, Scott Read, Bernie Reid, Ed Reid, Darren Rhymes, Daisy Richardson, Paulina Sandberg, Anthony Schrag, Lynne Sturgeon , Derek Sutherland, Ewan Sinclair, Laura Spring, David Stinton, Joanne Tatham, Chris Walker, Tom Watson, Jenna Watt, Ronnie Watt, Nicola White, Alex Wilde, Tess Wood. vOlUnteer Artists Mandy Beveridge, Kirstyn Cameron, Vivienne Edgar, Jack Fletcher, Haleh Jamali, Rose Kan, Dylan Mitchel, Mickey Robertson, Lizzy Shammash, Kate Young. sUPPOrt WOrkers Dean Archibald, Jonathan Gray, Sarah Hamilton, Marie Henqvist, John Johnstone, Elly Landrock, Eveline Nicolette, Sheree Powrie. teCHniCiAns In the Fields, Sandy Christie, Fraser Douglas, Maciej Szczotka, Sonja Witts. PrOGrAMMe vOlUnteers Abigail Beeley, Jenny Byrd, Gillian Carr, Anna Coppola, Leighanne Dickson, Valerie Gordon, Darla Eno, Lyn Terry, Rosalie Monod de Froideville, Dominic Stevens, BCTV Volunteer Teams, Volunteer Centre Staff at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

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Creative Responses

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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Our funders:

This project is part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Tyne Esk Leader 20072013 programme.

(front cover) A participant modelling a fascinator from the Crafty Lunches Wacky Hats workshop at the Western General Hospital (back cover) Frances Fontaine fly fishing at Almondell Country Park, West Lothian

www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk

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