Having experienced first-hand the healing and restorative power of community-based art, created collectively, At Birkhill House CIC is committed to leading at least one community-based project each year.
These are designed to foster solace, camaraderie and confidence-building and bring people together in the spirit of collaboration and working toward a common goal.
They may be in support of another project or cause (see the pom pom project 2022 below) or they may be designed as an end in themselves, like the "Strength in Numbers" canvases that were created and collated during the first lockdown in 2020 and now hang collectively in the outpatient corridor at the Borders General Hospital.
These projects are always free to take part. We strive to make them as accessible as possible so that everyone can feel confident enough to participate.
If you or your group would like to collaborate on or be considered for a community-based project lead by At Birkhill House CIC, contact Director Lara Armitage on:
We asked residents of the Scottish Borders to show us what gave them strength during the first lockdown. The resulting 79 canvasses make up Strength in Numbers, currently on display at Borders General Hospital. You can find more information and view the completed canvasses and information boards here.
Strength in Numbers was followed by the My Frame of Mind project, in which Scottish Borders residents submitted photographs of the people, objects and places that helped them maintain a positive frame of mind during the pandemic. View the final slideshow of the finished book, which featured as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2021, here. You can find out more information about the project, process and contributors here.
In the summer of 2021 we secured a Creative Scotland grant to deliver a 12 week weaving programme in conjunction with Beyond Earlston youth group. We wove with reeds, twigs, river findings, natural fibres and discarded agricultural plastic, creating fleeting pieces on the river bank, gorgeous tapestries and a series of giant outdoor pieces using unwanted trampoline frames. You can find out more about that project here.
In the spring of 2022 we linked up with Artworks in Barrow-in-Furness, who were working with working with local charities Furness Pride, Space2Create, Stitchability and Youthability to create a flock of pompom sheep to raise funds and awareness for mental health charities. We ran a series of workshops, including spinning and pompom makings, culminating in the creation of Baa-rbara, who remains a proud member of the What the Flock herd.
We teamed up again with Beyond Earlston in the summer of 2022 to run The Story of Me, which involved the creation of costume pieces ranging from cloaks and masks to pewter cast amulets and magic wands. Bookbinding and storytelling sessions helped the young people to distill elements of their own identities down into character traits that fed into their fantastical creations.
The Warm & Well sessions, funded by Youth Borders, brought us together with Beyond Earlston for a third long project funded by Youth Borders. Over eight sessions of open crafting workshops at the start of 2023, the group explored chosen areas of creative interest, tackled set projects suggested by our staff and visiting artists, enjoyed hot meals by the roaring fire, hung out, chilled and had fun.