In Stitches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back in February 2021 during the darkest, coldest month of the year and yet another ‘stay at home’ lockdown in place, a group called ‘In Stitches’ was established.

Artist Laura Lees and a growing band of sewers met up in the virtual realm. Using smart phones and online video platforms the group were supported by Anne Elliot and Patrick O’Growney from Artlink.

Most of the participants have been involved with Artlink for many years through different projects. Although this was a new way of working together, everyone took to it with enthusiasm as they not only learnt new techniques but could talk and share within the group. Believe me when I say WhatsApp chat and images were pinging left, right and centre!

Here’s a couple of quotes from the group:

“Great; it’s the human interaction that counts. I‘ve enjoyed each project and working with others to see their interpretation and creations, as well as sharing ideas.” Dorothy

“Well, I thought it wouldn’t work at first, but as a tutor I think it is brilliant! The ability to demonstrate direction with the aid of mark-up tool and video demonstrations, it’s been most rewarding.

Seeing the progression has been wonderful; the growth of confidence and technical abilities has been so rewarding. Everyone has taken on board the advice given and let their imagination take them places that far exceed their initial expectations. This level of success has been achieved by the warmth and supportive nature that this group demonstrates towards each other. Everyone feels secure in their embroidery and artistic abilities to share their thoughts, ideas and enthusiasm for each other’s work. The result; a joyous experience.

Looking forward to more embroidery.”  Laura Lees, Workshop lead

The project isn’t finished yet which means that not all the works are complete, but we love what they are creating so much, we want to share them with you.

In the slideshow you can see a variety of works developed during the project. We will also be posting progression photos from some of the works illustrated so you can see how works have been built up; keep an eye out for those.

Finally, you can see more of the brilliant Laura Lees’ work on her website at:

In Stitches: Anna Becker Teapot and Cup

May 5th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For this piece Anna took inspiration from the things around her, things that most people have like a teapot and a mug. We love the finished cushion, and it shows how everyday objects spark joy! Anna said,

“I was really not sure when I started this. It wasn’t something I would normally have thought of doing but I found myself enjoying making new stitches although I was never sure how it would turn out. It’s not perfect, but I quite like the finished product.”


In Stitches: Anna Becker – Kilimanjaro

May 26th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anna is currently working on a piece inspired by Kilmanjaro. It’s not finished yet but you can see how its progressing and we will upload images of all the finished pieces at the end of the project. From a humble teapot to a vast landscape!


In Stitches: Dorothy – Owl

May 28th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is Dorothy a wise old owl? we think so, though she may dispute the old part of that! We love the character Dorothy has managed to capture in the Owl. HOOT HOOT HOORAY! Dorothy says, “I have an affinity with owls and elephants for some reason!”


In Stitches: Dorothy – Bass Rock

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dorothy is currently working on a new piece which is inspired by a painting she has of the Bass Rock. We love how she is capturing the monumental form of the rock itself. Dorothy says, “The Bass Rock is inspired by childhood memories of holidays and weekends spent in a caravan at North Berwick. I feel grateful for the knowledge I’ve received on different techniques and the sharing of ideas. It has been great via Zoom to receive weekly updates.”


In Stitches: Yvonne – Ode to Frida

June 9th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Who would have thought birds and skulls go together? We do now! We love Yvonne’s creative use of stitches and colour. And where did she get those headphones?!

Yvonne says, “This is an ode to Frida (Kahlo). My inspiration was Mexico and the Day of the Dead. I love Frida Kahlo and the bright colours … appliqué is a craft I haven’t done before, so I find the group is teaching me new skills and I love seeing it come together.”


In Stitches: Anne Elliot – Meg

August 18th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anne has lovingly captured her Mum’s dog Meg in this beautiful piece. As Franklin Jones said ‘Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job’!

Anne says ‘’Thanks to lockdown and Laura Lees this was my first venture in sewing for 3 decades. I was surprised and encouraged by this perfect tonic to lockdown. Homemade size 12 dresses have been replaced by a pictorial interpretation of my favourite family dog Meg, using freestyle stitching. I was trying to draw with thread and fabric, enjoying the textures and working with limited resources at home. For a change I can be the one to say, I have not done this since school!’’


In Stitches: Anne Elliot – Forest

August 25th 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anne is currently working on this forest piece and was inspired by a David Hockney painting. We think that Anne can definitely see the woods for the trees!

Anne says, ‘’The Hockney landscape paintings are vast in size and on viewing them I felt drenched in colour. They have had a lasting impact on me. It has been a challenge to break away from the original Hockney – I found myself being slavishly true to the original. I really enjoyed being unleashed with colour after monochrome Meg. Working with embroidery threads for the first time made my stitches much smaller and tighter than the wool used in creating Meg. Working in tandem with others through the ‘In Stitches’ group kept me going with this project which so easily could have joined all the other unfinished garments from decades ago.’’


In Stitches: Grace – Cat

September 1st 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And to keep the bad puns going we think this cat by Grace is just PURRRRFECT!





The Edinburgh Landmarks exhibition has just finished at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and we decided to create a small publication to celebrate the creativit of the participants. Each of the people who took part in the exhibition received a copy as a thank you for taking part, as most were not able to see their work on display in the exhibition, they all loved it and so do we. View a selection of works, as well as the publication itself.

Next in the Link Gallery is an exhibition of drawings by Albert Nicolson. A series of beautiful line drawings of hats created in Artlink workshops at the R.E.H. Some of you may remember them from the Mark Dion exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery in 2014 as part of Ever Present Past.

We are also talking to Hans K Clausen, Hospital Exhibitions Manager, Tonic Arts Programme about developing another exhibition to go into the REH. Watch this space.

View a selection of images from Edinburgh Landmarks.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Creative Hub at the Glasshouses has seen a recent flourish of activity and now has activity happening Monday through to Friday.

Anne continues one to one working with people on a Wednesday and Thursday as well as working in the Andrew Duncan Clinic art room with the OT team.  The Creative Hub at the Glasshouses is also put to great use by the Orchard Clinic, the Volunteer Hub team and the Cyrenians, it feels really positive to have ongoing activity in the space.

One of our volunteers, Neil, has busy thinking about how we organise the space better in the workshop area. This has resulted in some serious wall building as you can see from the pics. Well done Neil, this will help us organise all the materials we use in the workshops while reducing the visual clutter. We love!

Anne has also been making great use of the fence at the front of the Creative Hub, initiating what will be a changing display of ‘Art on the Railings’, we hope the artworks help to brighten your day as you walk past the space. It’s also lovely to be able to publicly share some of the artworks produced in the workshops with you all.

And finally, as most houses seem to be putting up their festive decorations earlier than ever this year, we have followed suit and installed our festive lights in the Glasshouses, who doesn’t like bright, sparkly things during the dark winter period. Do I hear a baa humbug!



Art Games

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We started a drawing exchange with St Johns and Liberton Hospitals. The process is easy to take part in. There are 4 simple steps where patients start a drawing which is copied and added to by an artist. It is based on a surrealist drawing game, that allows a drawing to change as more people add to it. We have simplified the game to make it work on busy wards.

Our partners in delivering the first part of the project are the Mental Health OT team and IPCU at St Johns and Kirsty MacFarlane, CN and Fiona Walker, DCN ward 4, Liberton Hospital.

In the longer term, the ideas that are emerging will inform a larger scale sculptural project in partnership with Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. But for now, it is all about drawing. A doodle, a sketch, a painting. You start it. We photograph it and send it to an artist.

If you are interested in finding out more or want to discuss becoming involved in the future development please contact Anne Elliot at




Lost for Words is our creative writing project.

The first phase has just finished, and we were delighted to have author Laura Marney as our first writer. Laura is a Scottish writer with a great sense of humour, as anyone who has read her second novel, ‘Nobody Loves a Ginger Baby’, will know!  Laura mentored 6 people over a 10-week period, two of whom are NHS members of staff.

We were delighted to also have Merrick Pope working on the project with us, to support patients and make sure that we are following all the guidelines.  Merrick is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Self Harm Service at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and has worked on writing projects in the past.  There was lots of good dry witted banter between us all in the development and implementation of the project.

We have been really impressed by the commitment of the participants and the scope, range and skill of writing that has come out of phase one.  We will be sharing those results in both text and audio podcasts in later posts, so please look out for them.

We are currently talking to Carol Paterson of the MAC (Meaningful Activities Centre) at the Western General, and we are excited about developing the next part of the project with them, delivering both the writing project and some training for staff.



Maggie is another long-term friend of the Artlink Hospital Arts Programme and has been a regular attendee at the workshops over many years. In the workshops Anne can hardly keep up with the paper supply for Maggie’s artworks and it proved no different during lockdown. Maggie has been super productive producing a vast array of exciting and vibrant artworks. There is lots to enjoy and feast your eyes on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Joan is a long time friend of the Hospital Arts Programme and has been attending the workshops at the Glasshouses for many years. For anyone who knows Joan, they will know that lockdown is not going to put a stop to her creativity. Here you can see Joan displaying some of the works she had done over the last couple of months, being careful to socially distance of course.

Joan created this series of fun ‘Crafting with Joan’ cards which you can find here: Swan | Ladybird | Frog | Dragonfly | Bee ; they contain all the instructions you need to craft your own creatures. I’m off to be a busy bee!



Staff and patients at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital will have noticed a new exhibition called Edinburgh Landmarks in two sites there. Some works are displayed in MacKinnon House in the Link Gallery and some are displayed in the corridor in the new Royal Edinburgh Building. The works were all done in the workshops at the Creative Hub, Glasshouses before we had to temporarily close our doors. We are currently looking at how we might reopen the Creative Hub for one-to-one workshops and will let you know when we can restart some activity there.

Try and catch both parts of the exhibition as the work is different across both sites. Many thanks to our partners at Tonic Arts for making the exhibition happen.

View the artworks below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Although we have not been able to work on the wards during lockdown, we have been busy devising a programme which can be delivered under the current restrictions. It has been really lovely to keep in touch with you all over the last 6 months, your creativity over this period has been really inspiring, we will be sharing some of your fantastic work in future posts.

We are going to kick off with the wonderful group of volunteer gardeners who help us maintain and keep the garden around the Glasshouses Creative Hub, REH, looking really lovely. During lockdown they have not been able to be on site, but have been catching up round a virtual kitchen table using Zoom. They have been sharing gardening stories, tips and cake, all in the virtual stratosphere of course! We found that during lockdown people still wanted that personal contact even if it was on the end of a video call. It’s been really important to keep our brilliant group of volunteers talking to each other until they can all meet up again in the future. You can see what they have been up to in the Gardening newsletter above.