Creative Potential

Neil MacKay is a landscaper and maker. It is difficult to say when you first meet someone how things are going to work out. Everyone’s situation is unique. When we met Neil we spoke about his interests and where he was at. He was clearly interested in what was going on and had skills in landscaping, art and making. It was very early days for Neil getting back into the swing of things.

April 2012

Neil is introduced to us by Streetwork. We invite him to come along to Whyte Place where we are working on garden activities for LinkLiving. He decides it’s not the right time to be involved at that point in time.

July 2012

We bump into Neil again on the street in a pretty bad shape. He remembers what we do and says he will be in touch when he gets back on track.

October 2013

Neil’s in a better place and keen to get back involved so comes along to the visual art studio at Basic Mountain

November 2013

We start talking through ideas with the Scottish Beekeepers Association for their display tent at the upcoming Royal Highland Show for summer 2014.

February 2014

At the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop Neil becomes actively involved in the design and making preparations for the SBA display.

June 2014

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Having shown a real talent for marquetry Neil creates a beautiful inlay table under the guidance of furniture maker Susan Harper for the 2014 Royal Highland Show.

December 2014

Building on this positive experience Neil embarks on the next phase of collaboration with the beekeepers for their Royal Highland Show display tent in 2015

February 2015

Neil contributes to the design and construction of ‘The Barry’ – a bespoke piece of furniture that functioned as the honey tasting bar at the 2015 Royal Highland Show.

June 2015

Neil is instrumental in the installation of the exhibition furniture and display at the 2015 Royal Highland Show, which receives great feedback.

Endless Possibilites

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Gardening has always played an important part of what we do. We meet, eat and talk.

We have a gardening plot at Bridgend Growing Communities allotments. Although our main focus over the past couple of years has been working towards the Royal Highland Show we still grow the basics there. It allows us the chance to have a bit of lunch together, catch up and utilise the small bit of garden space we have at our disposal. We have also supplied organically grown fruit and vegetables for the local restaurant Blackfriars. 

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One of the participants grandfather worked as a beehive maker in the 1930’s which sparked off a conversation about beekeeping.

We invited David Wright from Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association to help answer some of our beekeeping questions. This led to making a top bar beehive with David and finding out more about the different skills required to keep bees. Interested folk completed the Introduction to Beekeeping Course run by EMBA in 2014 and 2015. We are now searching for adequate sites to start our own apiary.

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Our initial ideas are explored and developed at our visual art studio.

Coming together in Basic Mountain studio gives us a chance to chat together and develop our ideas. At the studio we explore design ideas and research different techniques. To help us work through our ideas professional visual artists, such as Francesca Nobilucci and Frances Priest, are invited in from time to time to deliver a block of specific workshops. We use specialist facilities such as Process Studios and the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to learn new skills to create high quality artwork.


A field trip to the graduate show at Chippendale School of Furniture in Gifford started off a whole new direction.

We visit many touring and one off exhibitions in and around Edinburgh at any given time of the year. We also look to develop specific skills and invite an artist or maker to give us a specific demonstration. Not so long ago we visited Jenny Smith at the Edinburgh Laser Cutting Studio to find out about various laser cutting and etching techniques.

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By learning to make your own beehives we gained new skills in furniture making.

Susan Harper, furniture maker graduated from the Chippendale School of Furniture in 2012. In the autumn of 2012 we used the school as our workshop to create bespoke beehives ready for the 2013 beekeeping season. Installing the beehives at the Gogarburn apiary was a landmark experience for us, and developed our relationship with beekeepers, this time with the Scottish Beekeepers Association enquiring if we would be interested in contributing to the design of their show tent at the Royal Highland Show 2014.

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Starting from the basics we allow the ideas to develop their own momentum.

Our work in furniture design and making introduced us to the fine art of marquetry. This allowed us to give a signature to our designs that culminated in 3 beautiful bespoke tables for the 2014 Royal Highland Show. Our developing skills and confidence supported the development and making of a new market shop and honey tasting area for the Scottish Beekeepers Association 2015 Royal Highland Show tent.

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We benefit from the experience of contemporary makers and artists and makers to create quality products.

For our work with the Scottish Beekeeping Association at the 2015 Royal Highland Show we designed and made a honey tasting area. Working with furniture maker Susan Harper we created the honey bar. Frances Priest a very talented ceramicist helped us create the fantastic honey tasting jars.

Fly tying at Cramond Angling club

Our work thrives on local knowledge and experiences of people who are passionate about what they do.

As with gardening, angling has remained a long-standing interest. We are lucky to have built up great relationships with West Lothian Angling Association and Cramond Angling Club who provide us with annual complimentary fishing permits. It allows us to fish as a group or individually. Occasionally Douglas C. Hall will provide expert classes in different fishing techniques or specialist skills such as fly-tying.


Photography by Alice Myers

Making Connections

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Aidan Stephen

“What I needed was something with an uncommitted length of time that I could ease myself into and use to start making decisions again.” Aiden an all rounder and talented artist first got in touch through Andy Bowman at Veteran First Point.



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Lynn Ferry

“I personally still like the tool of handing someone something and saying I know what Artlink does and this is why I think it could benefit you.” Lynn a Community OT based at Clermiston Health Clinic regularly refers folk to Artlink.

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Douglas C Hall

“My real passion is river fishing. It’s about knowing your environment. Being out there and doing it. As well as mixing with other anglers who are only too eager to share their knowledge and tips on catching fish.” Douglas regularly volunteers to shares his skills with others.


Irene Kernan

“Having the chance to chat about projects and what groups are up to builds that community studio we are aiming for.” Irene, Director at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop wants to make sure that everyone can benefit from the practical knowledge ESW has to offer.