Making spaces

Neil Hanna

Neil Hanna

Building on our previous and highly successful 'Meet Your Maker' project, our 2017/18 Outreach programme was our most ambitious to date. Working with a variety of partners and talented makers across Scotland, we ran a series of projects with the aim to develop participant's creative skills, build makers' expertise and raise awareness of the value of craft. 

Previous research has clearly shown that craft can positively contribute to an individual's well-being, health and quality of life, physically, mentally and even emotionally. Through our Outreach programme, we want to bring these benefits to those who may not have the opportunity to engage with and participate in high-quality craft. The focus of the programme for 2017/18 was to diversify the audiences currently engaging with craft, with a particular emphasis given to the younger generation and older people living in isolation. 

In order to reach and engage with these audiences, we established partnerships with a variety of organisations across Scotland who could facilitate creative learning projects. For 2017/18 our partners included; The Living Memory Association, National Museums Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Panel, Glasgow Women's Library, Fife Contemporary, Young Scot, Scottish Men's Shed Association and West Dunbartonshire Council

For each project, we worked with a variety of makers to deliver practical workshops where they shared their craft skills and worked collaboratively with participants. From August 2017 to March 2018, over 60 events were held in venues across eight regional areas in Scotland including Stirling, Fife, Lanarkshire and Edinburgh. For full details of our partners, makers and audience read our Annual Review 2017/18.

Here is just a taste of the selection of projects put together and the range of benefits which were felt by those who engaged with our 2017/18 Outreach programme. 

National Museums Scotland - Celebrating Scottish Craft

To raise the profile of contemporary Scottish craft makers, a series of workshops between January and February 2018 were held at with the National Museums Scotland (NMS) for older people, specifically those living with dementia. The workshops were created within the context of the new Art and Design galleries at the National Museum of Scotland, specifically the Making and Creating gallery which reveals the techniques and inspirations behind the work of national and international designers and makers. 

Joanna Kessell workshop at NMS

Joanna Kessel mosaics workshop / National Museums Scotland - Celebrating Scottish Craft / Photography by Neil Hanna

Led by makers Joanna Kessel (Mosaics) and Laura Murray (Jewellery), this series of eight workshops linked the museum's collections with the creative ideas of those participating and was specifically designed for those living with dementia and their family, friends, partners and carers. Participants were able to come together in a supportive and friendly environment and take part in a practical activity with a skilled tutor. Many left with not only a handmade piece of craft but a sense of achievement, increased confidence in interacting with others and a shared memory of a fun and engaging afternoon. Workshop participants had this to say of their experience:

"We loved being part of it, learning new things...it has benefitted us in so many different ways." 

"We very much enjoyed the workshops, they were well organised and it was so good to have work to take home as a reminder. Not only that but to proudly show others what can be achieved." 

Laura Murray jewellery workshop at NMS

Laura Murray workshop / National Museums Scotland - Celebrating Scottish Craft / Photography by Neil Hanna

Historic Environment Scotland at Stirling Castle and the Engine Shed - Year of Young People 2018

Inspired by Stirling Castle and the Engine Shed - Scotland's new national centre for traditional skills and materials - this project looked to support young people and adults with additional support needs in using their creativity to celebrate their local and national heritage. Three makers, Jo Pudelko (Jewellery), Fiona Hermse (Jewellery) and Alis Le May (Costume Design), worked collaboratively with the following groups:

  • Denny's & St Modan's High Schools (Stirling): Advanced Higher Art & Design students and teachers
  • Forth Valley College: HND 1 Art & Design Students and creative industries staff
  • Artlink Central: adults with varying additional support needs

By creating flexible, thoughtful and quietly challenging workshops, makers were able to provide students with a fresh insight into the practice of craft. Students were able to access specialist knowledge, explore a wider range of materials and techniques and gain awareness of future opportunities in craft and the skills it gives in the wider context of the working world. 

Both teachers and students commented on the benefits of working in a different environment, of the wide range of knowledge provided by both Historic Environment Scotland and the makers and how these translated into fresh inspiration and a more pro-active mindset. In addition, the resulting pieces of work were beautifully presented in an exhibition, providing a confidence boost for students. 

"I would very much like my students to take part in this project again - I felt hugely beneficial to their growth as students and for their art practice." 

Living Memory Association - Making Memories

The Living Memory Association (THELMA) brings together older people through reminiscence and oral history. The Making Memories workshops were held at The Little Shop of Memories at Ocean Terminal, Leith, during which local craft makers introduced participants to contemporary craft processes alongside stories in living memory. 

Makers from a variety of craft disciplines ran intimate craft sessions including Sally-Ann Proven (Millinery), James Donald (Textiles), Dorothy Hogg (Jewellery), Amanda Baron (Glass), Hazel Lethalby (Textiles), Karen Mabon (Textiles), Mella Shaw (Ceramics), Mirka Janeckova (Jewellery) and Helen Miles (Mosaics). 

Mella Shaw workshop at The Little Shop of Memories

Mella Shaw workshop at The Little Shop of Memories / Living Memory Association - Making Memories

By engaging in workshops that explored contemporary craft practice, participants were able to meet high-quality makers and widen their own making skills. It also provided the opportunity for stories to be shared and social history to be passed on.

"An insight into artistic activity I have not experienced before. The process reminded me of paper marbling with primary school children...These craft sesssions are delightful - friendly, sociable, instructive and enlightening." - Hazel Lethalby marbling workshop participant

Our 2017/18 programme also included partnerships with Young Scot and the Scottish Men's Shed Association as part of the BBC Get Creative Festival 2018, with Fife Contemporary for the In Time, In Land project and with Panel as part of their launch of exclusive, small-batched produced products for the Glasgow Women's Library shop. We also co-ordinated ceramic sessions for art teachers as part of their continued professional development training.


  Selection of small batch products for Glasgow Women's Library shop

Small-batched produced products for the Glasgow Women's Library shop, commissioned by Panel / Mugs handmade by Anna Lewandowska and designed and hand-finished by Sally Hackett

For 2018/19 we have developed our Outreach programme further, allowing us to continue increasing and diversifying the audience for craft. This includes partnerships with NHS Lothian, Historic Environment Scotland, Super Power Agency, the National Museum of Rural Life and THELMA. We will also continue to develop CPD training for art teachers and will be running workshops in partnership with Young Scot at our Summer Show 2018

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