My Frame of Mind

Everyone who participated in the creation of the "My Frame of Mind" project will be pleased to hear that all submissions have now been gathered together into a beautiful, handbound book. Each page has been photographed and collated into a slideshow, which is part of this year's Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF).

Click here to have a look!

About "My Frame of Mind"

During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Lara Armitage, director of At Birkhill House crafting centre near Earlston, asked residents in the Scottish Borders to identify something that had helped them to maintain a positive frame of mind and photograph it - or a representation of it - looking through a frame. Lara then created a handbound book in which to mount the 50 submissions.

The project was funded by the Joint Health Improvement Team (Scottish Borders Council & NHS Borders). Once restrictions lift, this book will go on permanent display in the Borders. Until then, it is on digital display via the link above.

The Slideshow

Each submission has been photographed three times - once as a double page spread, showing image and caption, once showing just the image and once showing just the caption. The beautiful, haunting music was produced specially for this project by husband and wife team Roger Simian and Sarahjane Swan, AKA The Bird And The Monkey, who live in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. In their unique way of working, they composed their gorgeous soundscape in response to the finished slideshow, which was put together by At Birkhill House. Picking out details from all the stories submitted, The Bird And The Monkey have created a stunning musical journey that leads the viewer through the book, binding everyone's words together and sealing the collective effort that went into the making of it. More of The Bird And The Monkey's music can be found here.

The Book

The beauty of this project was bringing together not only the 50 people who interacted with the prompt and submitted a photograph for the finished book but also all the people and organisations who were involved in the making of it...

The beautiful paper was specially created for this project by Lucy Baxandall of Tidekettle Paper in Berwick. It is made of cotton, abaca and recycled Berwick Film Fest brochures.

Carfraemill-based artist Alison MacLeod worked her calligraphy magic on these pages to bring participants' stories to life.

Freelance graphic designer Sarah Woodbury, based in Ayton, toiled tirelessly to check, resize, format and ultimately ferry the prints from the digital world into the physical.

The leather for the book cover was kindly donated by Aero Leathers in Galashiels and subsequently bound by Lara Armitage of At Birkhill House, using a binding pattern kindly donated by Cass Barron of Bookbinding with Cass (Edinburgh).

Many thanks to Lizzie Mayer and all the young people at Cheviot Youth Group, who adopted this project as part of their Summer 2020 programme.

It was only possible for this project to happen due to the kind support of the Joint Health Improvement Team (Scottish Borders Council & NHS Borders) - in particular, Health Improvement Specialist (Mental Health) Steph Mackenzie.

This has been a challenging collaborative feat and huge thanks are due to all who participated and also those who spent time adding the finishing touches. It has been a strange and difficult time for many but this object of beauty is a testament to the idea that sometimes it is worth taking a moment to frame the positive and find inspiration and hope in the midst of chaos.

My Frame of Mind is now closed to new contributions, but if you are interested in the process, you will find the PDF files for the Brief and Contribution Guidelines below.


Birkhill House

Earlston TD4 6AR

email & phone

07779 339 653