The focus of our next project is how we can help artists tell their own story.
“An indie arts centre housed in a former Government office block which, despite its daunting exterior, is a hive of creative energy.”
– ArtWork, on St Margaret’s House
The Thrive Archive is based at the wonderful St Margaret’s House and is grateful for the support of the inspirational folk who run Edinburgh Palette. The building hosts hundreds of studios, several unique exhibition spaces, a range of charities – including a whole floor dedicated to the artists at Upward Mobility – as well as a range of holistic therapists and martial artists who keep our creative juices flowing and help us de-stress.
At the Open Doors event on 21st and 22nd October and as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Thrive curator Jan Bee Brown will be celebrating the eclectic mix and the symbiotic relationship between established and emergent artists and the building that nurtures them.
Once a crowded railway depot full of steam locomotives our ‘brutalist building’ was built on the site of a magic well, every studio has a story to tell. So we are now seeking stories of how so many multicultural artists came to St Mags’, how working in the building has inspired them and how collaboration with other artists facilitated by the supportive nature of the building helps them to develop their practice and cross traditional boundaries in art.
We will be blogging about the project as we build up a head of steam and our story journey will be free so do join us on October 21st from 11am – 4pm for a bit of an adventure!
Earlier this year we took an art project out on tour with a new play from Heroica Theatre Company produced by Stellar Quines. ‘A Private View’ was a new play about the life of Artist Joan Eardley. The promenade theatre show opened at The Modern here in Edinburgh during a retrospective of Joan’s work and then toured the Highlands and Islands before heading south and across the border.
Thrive’s Curator Jan Bee Brown is a collaborative artist who trained in 3D Design at Central St Martins and has designed a range of touring theatre shows over the past 15 years including several for Stellar Quines Theatre Company. Small-scale touring in Scotland involves many one-night-only performances and Jan always thought that there was a missed opportunity to engage a rural audience in a more holistic way to enable communities to tell their own story.
Jan designed and trialled ‘After Eardley’ a 90-minute creative art workshop to engage the audience before the show and our favourite artist Lucy Schofield joined The Thrive Archive to help deliver them at a range of eclectic venues, galleries, art centres and village halls during the tour.
The workshop was conceived to get both local artists and complete beginners to work at speed, in pastel, inspired by archive footage of Joan sketching Glasgow children in the 1963 film Three Scottish Painters. The resulting art works were so impressive they often became part of the set during the promenade performance. Gallery staff at one venue also joined in as part of their CPD and the actors even had a go too.
The Thrive Archive were delighted with the feedback and we really enjoyed working with Lucy, Heroica and Stellar Quines. The play had 5 star reviews and the workshops were well attended and it was wonderful to be able send such positive feedback to the funders at Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.
Nest of Songbirds has been a fantastic project to be part of. It has been amazing how much the project has opened my mind to the potential of what the choir can do. The way that we can link with other choirs and organisations as well as other art forms. We have really got behind this project and it has inspired the choir to become even more solid and organised than it was before. As a cross generational project I thought it was really successful at bringing together different age groups from the school and the community choir at an event together. In terms of linking with community history and story telling it was an absolute score. These songs will continue through the choir for many years. It’s also great that we have them recorded so that they can be shared by anyone. In short it has been an inspiring and successful project on every level. – Jed Milroy
We were delighted to be supported by and take part in the fabulous TradFest in October filling both the auditorium and the stage to bursting point at The Scottish Storytelling Centre with the Newhaven Community Choir, The Giddy Kipper Ceilidh Band and the junior choirs of Victoria and Stockbridge Primary Schools.
Curator Jan Bee Brown and Marie Louise Cochrane aka Mrs Mash the storytelling cook cooked up a great project for the second stage of the Songbirds project funded by wonderful The Edward Marshall Trust. Junior Choir leader Lucy Metcalf joined us and enabled the two schools to celebrate the historical markets that defined their local area, the famous Stockbridge market and the infamous Fish Market in Newhaven.
‘A Nest of Songbirds’ started in October 2016 and saw three new songs and a reel being written about Newhaven with songwriter Jed Milroy and musician and choreographer Jo Jeffries with members of The Newhaven Community Choir and P7 Victoria primary students. We celebrated with The Giddy Kipper Ceilidh in December 2016.
Jan joined the P7’s at Victoria Primary up with the wonderful Helena Barrett at The Edinburgh Arts Festival and Napier University to make a 360-music video of their song inspired by Newhaven’s First World War submarine watching heritage!
In March 2017 it was the turn of the Junior Choirs to get creative. Following a delicious storytelling session with Jan and Mrs Mash, pupils from both schools made up their own market cries and designed their own stalls and Lucy and Marie Louise cleverly interwove these into a new song ‘Come to the Market’.
All the songs were recorded by Jed Milroy and will soon be available on Band Camp.