Fortune favours only prepared minds

It has been a busy couple of weeks catching up with various projects in various stages of development.

The FST – Federation of Scottish Theatre – Emporium at Musselburgh led to a series of interesting conversations and opportunities. Following ‘Kiss and Tell’ our day of stories for Syria I received a tip to read ‘Hinterland’ by Caroline Brothers. If you are interested in journeys and the experience of migrants and haven’t read it yet – do so!

This moving journey chimes with our theme of economic migration. How far are we prepared to travel to feed our bairns and what can we learn from those who travelled the road before us?

We are currently on the funding trail for our next project “Come Awa!” which will search out and work with stories about the gutting quines, the herring girls’ annual migration and how the different coastal communities welcomed them as they followed the herring around the coast of Scotland and down the east coast all the way to Yarmouth Town.

May the road rise up to meet us!

Liz Balfour kindly made us a willow creel
Liz Balfour kindly made us a willow creel

Building community – ripples in the pond.

The Thrive Archive’s mission is to enable diverse communities to tell their own story in their own way so we were delighted to hear about the success of ‘Heave Awa’.

Last week The Newhaven Community Choir proudly presented ‘Heave Awa’ an evening packed with story and song. Written by three local residents for the Newhaven Community Choir ‘Heave Awa’ was performed to an appreciative crowd at David Lloyd Newhaven.

The venue was appropriate as 100 years ago the land on which the sports centre stands was yet to be reclaimed and, with a tight knit community and a bounty of local shops, Newhaven was thriving.

Written by choir members Dougie, Sophia and George ‘Heave Awa’ complemented an exhibition of photographs, taken in Newhaven in the 50’s, curated by the Newhaven Heritage Group. The exhibition, that shows images of the village before ‘the clearances’ in the 60’s, is now on tour to Victoria Primary School and Ocean Terminal in Leith.

When the local heritage group were faced with a tight budget these three feisty and canny Bowtow’s – all with many a story to tell – stepped up to the plate and wrote ‘Heave Awa’. Donations from the audience were then split between the heritage group and the choir to top up the funds of these two important community resources.

Storyteller Marie Louise Cochrane, our curator Jan Bee Brown and Willow Weaver Liz Balfour had the pleasure of working with Newhaven Community Choir last year to create ‘Caller-Ou!’ at the National Library of Scotland.

Many congratulations to all concerned it’s great to see this ripple in the pond! The Thrive Archive is doing exactly what it says on the tin!

Stories for Syria

A story is like a cat – it finds you, jumps into your lap and starts to purr…

The Thrive Archive is proud to present a day of stories, soup and song on February 21st 2016 to raise funds for Syrian refugees.

We love telling stories and as part of our artistic residency with Edinburgh Palette at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh we are delighted to be hosting the final day in a week of creative fund raising activity. Continuing to explore our theme Hearth Heart Earth we will be asking: what does it feel like to give and what does it mean to receive?

Stories, soup and song Sunday 21st February 2016
Stories, soup and song Sunday 21st February 2016




Lorna Shields from award winning storytellers "It's in the bag!"
Lorna Shields from award winning storytellers “It’s in the bag!”


A Teddy Bear’s Picnic story session will be taking place in G25 on the ground floor in the morning from 11-11.45am with Lorna Shields part of the award winning company “It’s in the bag!” Her stories are suitable for children 0-6 and their big people – don’t forget to bring your best bear!








Soup for the Soul – in the Library with a ladle between 12 and 1.30 The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh will be providing delicious soup with bread, cheese and pickles from awesome local producers Breadshare and Dollop & Scoff. All food is intercepted locally before it goes to waste and you simply pay what you feel your meal is worth.

Second helpings of Soup in the Library
Second helpings of Soup in the Library

Exhibition spaces on the 3rd floor will be open for you to enjoy all day and our giving quilt will be waiting for donations of stitches and wishes before taking centre stage in G25 from 2-4pm for Kiss and Tell a selection of 10 – minute stories and song from around the world with storytellers, choirs and talented local musicians. Suitable for ages 12+ there will be a crèche available for tots and toddlers from 1.45 – 4.15 on the ground floor.

Donate a stitch to our Giving Quilt
Donate a stitch to our Giving Quilt

Bring any spare warm clothing to donate, all events are on a first come first served basis and are free on entry, simply pay what you feel they are worth at the end. Proceeds go to Re-Act who will distribute the clothing. For more information on the stories follow and like our Facebook Page.



Gretna 100 – legacy in the can

Earlier this year we worked with Citizen Curator and Out of The Blue on the Gretna 100 project. Our curator Jan Bee Brown led a group of community researchers on a 10 week journey to create an exhibition at The Drill Hall to commemorate the Gretna Rail Disaster. The site specific exhibition 7 of the Seventh complemented Active Enquiry’s promenade community play Persevere.

Recently the flexible exhibition was re- installed for Previously ,the Leith History Festival and the week finished with Rare Bird Media‘s film showing. Ray Bird followed the project from start to finish and his film clearly shows how a diverse community came together to both remember and create history. You can see the film by following this link:




Fresh frae the Forth – It’s time to sing whilst we work! On Sunday November 1st The Thrive Archive presented an hour of story and song with Newhaven Community Choir at The National Library of Scotland.

Oh fit'll we dae wi the Herrings Head?
Oh fit’ll we dae wi the Herrings Head? photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

Commissioned by the outreach team for The Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2015 our curator Jan Bee Brown worked with the choir and storyteller Marie Louise Cochrane to celebrate the feisty fishwives of Newhaven and their community in response to the wonderful exhibition Lifting the Lid .

Photo credit Sheila Masson Rehearsing with The Newhaven Community Choir at Victoria Primary School
Rehearsing with The Newhaven Community Choir at Victoria Primary School photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

Jed Milroy leads the choir set up by Citizen Curator two years ago.  They sing a mixture of soul and folk ballads as well as tackling traditional fishy songs from the repertoire of the famous Fishwives and Fisherlassies’ Choirs. Their USP is that they always get the audience singing along.

Audience participation photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography
Audience participation photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

We followed the story of one young lassie – Charlotte Eadie (Chatty -for short) who, losing her job in a factory in Leith when the heroes came home after The First World War followed the herring. Her daughter is in the choir and Chatty’s heart-breaking adventures as a gutting quine moved us all so much that we have now found our next research project Come Awa – the title comes from the famous Song of the Fish Gutters:

Come all ye fisher lassies now and come awa wi me,

Fae Cairnbulg and Gamrie and fae Inverallochie,

Fae Buckie and fae Aiberdeen and a’ the country roon,

We’re awa tae gut the herrin, we’re awa tae Yermouth Toon.

Newhaven Gutting Quines in Yarmouth
Newhaven Gutting Quines in Yarmouth photo courtesy of Sophia Abrahamson



Soup for Story Swap

We had such fun playing with Creative Carbon’s Re-See 3 it exhibition that we are running a series of carbon friendly bite size events at The Thrive Archive as part of our residency at St Margaret’s House this winter.

Memorable meals?
Memorable meals?

As we are ‘a sandwich short of a picnic’ in funding terms our pop up events will be tasty morsels or light bites as we team up with food entrepreneurs including The Real Junk Food Edinburgh team and breadshare community bakers to intercept good food going to waste for our Soup for Story Swap.

Link Up Ladies who lunch
Link Up Ladies who lunch

Earlier this year we ran a series of mono-print workshops with the lovely Link – Up ladies support group and they shared some fabulous stories with us. We have all had a memorable festive meal…share yours on Sunday 13th and get a free mug of heart-warming vegetable soup, a chunk of delicious artisan bread and a wee festive gift of relish from our bonny friends Dollop & Scoff!


Creative Carbon Challenge

Having found over a thousand tiny blocks of wood in the Swap Shop at Edinburgh Palette recently The Thrive Archive  were delighted to be selected by The Green Team at St Margaret’s House to be part of their Re-See it 3 exhibition this autumn.

Warp and Weft
Warp and Weft

You got so creative with the dried-glue side of wee fingers of parquet floor that our interactive exhibit was invited to get playful at ArtCOP 21 at  Gayfield Creative Space in Edinburgh. This this a fantastic alternative gallery space which is located just of Gayfield Square at the top of Leith Walk.

Creative Carbon Crafting
Creative Carbon Crafting

Thanks to all who  made the event happen, especially to the person who lovingly took up the 1000 piece floor in the first place and thought – someone will have a use for this… and to all of the creatives who got stuck in and turned the random glue patterns into artworks!

photo 2
Tweeting a Jenga-inspired tower

A wee bit of give and take?

The Thrive Archive took part in North Edinburgh’s Open Studios event with Leith Late last weekend and welcomed a great bunch of folk with a range of creative activities.

Carrots for Lapin

As part of our Hearth Heart Earth project there was creative writing as people shared stories of their most memorable meals with us. We also made carrot bunting with our younger visitors for Lapin – our favourite French Rabbit who is planning a new adventure with Tania and her company Le Petite Monde which will start touring in October. Every crafty carrot made was rewarded with a crunchy carrot to eat.

Dad's can sew too!

We also asked people to literally get into bed with us and to chat about how it feels to give and it means to receive. Strangers chatted and discussed this whilst donating a few stitches to our Giving Quilt.

photo 2 copy

Started with the help of our creative neighbours The Edinburgh Quilting Collective we are recycling one of our curator Jan Bee Brown’s art works made for the Liverpool Biennial in 2012. The theme of that particular show was Hospitality and Jan made a series of fabric refugees who travelled through Germany and Holland before finding homes throughout the Britain and Scotland. Postcards were generously donated by the Centre for Regenerative Medicine who are interested in finding creative ways to get a conversation started between scientists, their students and the community.

giving and receiving

We are currently planning our Winter Picnic in January 2016 and to Kick Start a funding campaign so watch this space!

More ripples in the pond…

Lots more positive ripples are being felt in the Away Being pond with the Leaving Home Project. We have been contacted by the producer of BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood asking to feature some poetry, Ian and John’s images and The Thrive Archive’s new music commission from Mike Vass and the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’s Big Band that was sponsored last year by Enterprise Music Scotland. And as one thing leads to another the news has come in that the original photographs have led to one of the houses featured being converted into an eco home for local residents through the Carnegie Trust. So a big thanks to everyone who made the project such a special one!

it's good to share
it’s good to share

Going Home – Jean Taylor

Going Home


The first room is a room that has seen

too many fabrics. Layers slip from the surfaces.

Soon there will be only lathe and plaster

a structure of rubble behind the peel.

Once there was a suitcase of hope

a dressing table of promise

a chest of drawers stuffed full of dreams

now there are off-cuts of carpet,

rust oxidises on the door fittings,

the suitcase is gaping.


In the attic, the bible has lost its context,

the dreamcatcher is a gatherer of dust,

the bed is pillowed in dirt and discomfort.

The dust has become volcanic

with the crumble of cotton.

There may be a skeleton under the bed.


In her mother’s bedroom the Virgin

fondles her rosary in a gesture of disapproval

her mother’s bed leans against the paneling,

wall socket visible, now that the bed

has been stripped of its comforts.

A small Christ watches over nothingness.


She has placed her new white suitcase

in the middle of horror

in a room which is no longer a room

but a warzone. The birds

have splattered guano over all its faces

the pine chairs, the deal table

the pink plush bedspread.

Only the word remains

on Blue Basildon Bond writing paper

and a novel by Dickens – Great Expectations.



© Jean Taylor

January 2015

Bedroom South Uist photo credit Ian Paterson
Bedroom South Uist photo credit Ian Paterson