Category Archives: Events

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The ‘Ever Present Past’ project at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital was developed and coordinated by Artlink. The project explored the history of the Hospital through a series of talks, events and workshops and artist placements throughout 2013 – the Hospital’s bi-centenary year. The programme culminated in a public exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery from 16th November 2013 to 15th February 2014.


imageDid you know that there is a talk on at 11am at the Talbot Rice Gallery on Saturday 8th February? There should be seats available, so just turn up!

As the REH becomes a shiny new building it is important that we look back and consider how the designed landscape that surrounds many of Scotland’s hospitals came to be seen as very important in the treatment of patients.

The talk will be given by Christopher Dingwall, Garden Historian.

Markers tour feedback

..the guided tour was not only an insight into the physical environment of The Royal Edinburgh Hospital but a much privileged access to the environment of a patient’s mind. The lady who took us around really took us back to moments she experienced whilst in that facility, sometimes humorous, often full of pathos but always insightful and honest authenticity. The result was a step into a world, god forbid, that you would never really want to visit as a patient, yet knowing full well that if you ever needed to, you would be in the best of all places at the Royal Edinburgh, cared for and understood and guided towards recovery and rehabilitation. People need to know more about mental illness and its treatments to help reduce persisting stigma and misunderstood ideas of what it is really like. The 200th anniversary events enable this to take place.

Voices from the past

Some very lovely feedback ………. today’s event was a perfect complement to Mark Dion’s exhibition, making the theme of mental illness all the more clear and bringing it to life with stories across time. It was as if we were sitting in or eavesdropping on conversations – and if as a visitor to the event today, you weren’t affected by those words then you aren’t really very human!

Pauline Goldsmith, the actress was excellent and Ruth Honeybone was very good too, but the credit must really go to Artlink



The performance

MARKERS TOUR – 25th January



Saturday 25th January
2pm to 3pm
Meet at 2pm Car park, MacKinnon House


An Alternative Tour of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital
A series of small wall paintings have started to appear around the hospital. ‘Calling Cards’ from past and present patients within the hospital.

Each painting has been placed in a space which is of personal significance to the person who painted the picture. It just so happens that each of the spaces also has had a number of different identities over the past 200 years. This walking tour will provide people with stories about each of the paintings, the personal significance of each space and stories of the corridors, wards and rooms of this Victorian Psychiatric institution. There is a guidebook written by Nicola White to accompany each tour.

To book call Artlink on: 0131 229 3555 OR BOOK HERE


Scotsman review

Tap the image and go straight to the review



Pioneers of Madness – radio programme



Edi Stark explores 200 years of pioneering mental health care at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.


Arthur Conan Doyle and his father


Talbot Rice Gallery, Tuesday 14th January 2014 at 6pm.

Join Professor Owen Dudley Edwards as he talks about Arthur Conan Doyle, exploring his relationship with his father, Charles Altamont Doyle, and its influence on his writing.

Charles Doyle, as well as being father to Arthur, was a gifted artist with a history of mental ill health, spending a good part of his life in mental institutions. Ironically, it was during his time in these institutions, that Charles created some of his best artwork. He created this work to prove his sanity, sending the drawings to his family as proof of his wrongful confinement. In spite of these efforts, he would remain in an asylum for the rest of his life. On the morning of October 10, 1893 Charles suffered from a severe epileptic fit that proved too powerful for his weakened heart. He was buried in a graveyard in Dumfries, Scotland.

How did this affect the creator of the world’s greatest detective?

Introduced by Professor Ronnie Jack, esteemed academic and long time friend and colleague of Owen Dudley Edwards.

Professor Owen Dudley Edwards is honorary fellow of the School of History, University of Edinburgh. He is the general editor of the Oxford Sherlock Holmes series, and is a recognised expert on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Professor RDS Jack is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the English Association. He holds a personal chair in Scottish and Medieval literature and is a member of the Royal Edinburgh Patients Council.

Radio Scotland Interview



Twenty-eight minutes and fourty-two seconds into the Culture Studio listen to Trevor Cromie, Nicola White and Claire Barclay talk about Ever, Present, Past.


Markers is an alternative tour of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

“As ways of caring for people change and parts of the hospital are replaced by new buildings, then look over to the painting of the care worker on the telegraph pole, or the landscape on the trunk of the tree and remember some of the people who spent time here.”

Maggie Keppie – Our Planets

Looking out of the window of the Link corridor, you can see Maggie’s work painted on a window ledge by a set of small steps. This was where Maggie, taking a break from duties at the Patients’ Council, would smoke and talk with her friend Allison. The work was made in remembrance of Allison, who died recently. The text around the flowers reads: ‘We met when our planets aligned, I hate that yours fell before mine.’   The corridor, linking Mackinnon House with the Jordanburn Clinic,  has been used as a gallery area for the past twenty years, after it was refurbished with a lottery grant. It was also the location of the Patients’ Council’s former office, where Maggie served as chairwomanimage

Joan Templeton – Kingfisher

Joan attends art sessions at the Glasshouses when she comes to visit her son in the hospital. She is interested in drawing nature, especially birds and flowers. This bright kingfisher on the greenhouse door was a detail taken from a larger design for a banner. The Glasshouses are currently used as the centre of Artlink’s activities at the Royal Edinburgh. They house a range of creative workshops in addition to gardening activities. They were built to house a previous Horticulture Project which involved many of the patients, but dwindled as Occupational Therapy moved to more modern job-related activities such as office work and trade skills.It is likely that there were greenhouses on this site before these ones, when the hospital was home to resident gardeners and their families, along with a pigman and another family who ran the chicken house. image

Anna Redpath – Hair Spectrum

This painting, spanning the doorway of the WRVS shop, is a vibrant composition by an artist fascinated by pattern and colour.  The woman’s hair takes on an imaginative life, radiating in circles, filled with a harlequin pattern of colour. Anna chose this spot for her work because she comes here every Wednesday to buy milk for the art group, and will enjoy seeing it, as will the many shop customers.

The shop is situated beside the original entrance to Mackinnon house, and the staircase beside it was once the main staircase of the hospital, though it seems too narrow for that purpose. But Mackinnon House, then known as West House, was built in back in 1840 to house poor patients, and so the decoration and proportions were deliberately modest and plain.image

Flash choir!


In December 2013 we organised a massed sing with The Heart & Soul Singsters in the Talbot Rice Gallery. The date was set for a Friday afternoon and we were very unsure people would turn up. We thought perhaps we would get a few people who would brave the cold weather and join in. On the day of the mass sing, the choir set up and a few people trickled through the door, then a few more, then more and more. We were taken aback! More than 50 people joined the choir to sing. It was brilliant!

An Alternative Tour of the Hospital


A series of small wall paintings started to appear around the hospital. ‘Calling Cards’ from past and present patients within the hospital. Each painting has been placed in a space which is of personal significance to the person who painted the picture. It just so happens that each of the spaces also has had a number of different identities over the past 200 years.

This walking tour will provide people with stories about each of the paintings, the personal significance of each space and stories about the corridors, wards and rooms of this Victorian Psychiatric institution.

On Saturday 7th December we held our first walking tour of the hospital. A small group of people were introduced to the hospital from the perspective of our guides. It was a resounding success!

Participants had the opportunity to hear the wit and wisdom of some amazing people. Look out for the next tour at the end of January.


Royal Edinburgh Hospital FETE – 6TH SEPTEMBER

Here are some photos of the Fete. It was well attended. Look out for the Punch & Judy Stall designed by Maggie Keppie.





Some of the posters advertising the Fete

Not long to go until the REH Fete! Bring your creative skills, a picture of your dog or visit the history room. Just a few of the many attractions you’ll be able to enjoy.

Staff tour of Craighouse

Artlink organised a tour of Craighouse. It was so well attended we had to split the tour into two groups. The tour was led by Gordon Mcletchie. For those who don’t know, in the 1880s, Dr Thomas Clouston, Physician Superintendent of the Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum (later the Royal Edinburgh Hospital), oversaw the purchase of Craig House by the managers of the Asylum in 1878. The site was intended for paying patients, and development was funded through the sale of land at the existing Asylum in Morningside. Craighouse was sold to Napier University in the 1980’s.









Heart & Soul Singsters



The first public singing event for the Heart & Soul Singsters.

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital singing group the Heart and Soul Singsters join forces with the Edinburgh University Music Society chorus for a mass sing in the Georgian Gallery at the Talbot Rice Gallery.

Part of a programme of activities and events to celebrate 200 years of the hospital the mass sing will be a fun event to experiment with the acoustics of the gallery and for people to experience singing as part of a big group.

There will be an open rehearsal to practice the songs we will be singing at the event which anyone is welcome to join from 5.30 – 6.30pm on the Friday. If you can’t make the rehearsal everyone attending the event will be welcome to sing or hum along.