Edinburgh Festival Fringe

16 August 2010

Just had a fantastic weekend up in Scotland; the weather was good too! Edinburgh has always been one of my favourite cities, especially because I used to spend summers while a student helping out at the Fringe. For free board, (a sleeping bag on any available floor space), I would design posters and help out serving during intervals at a small venue called ‘St Columba’s by the Castle’. While other people spent time queuing to try to get in to see Roger McGough, I would sit in the wings listening for free, mesmerised by his poetry. In fact one day Melvin Bragg was so annoyed to be turned away. “Don’t you know who I am!” he said. “Yes, but there are just no seats left.” Another time I was roped in to help work the puppets for a children’s puppet show – great fun! We were even reviewed on Scottish tv!

This year we saw a bit of comedy, and then spent a very enjoyable evening watching various music bands in a small cellar venue. We walked back in the early hours, eating fried haggis and chips to try to soak up all the alcohol we had consumed! Another day we watched a very thought provoking play about euthanasia, viewed a few art galleries, and an amazing dance company. The contemporary dance was an eclectic mix of infectious energy and multimedia. Each dance was accompanied by music soundtracks that could be a medley of shifting waves on a pebbly beach, or rushing wind overlaid onto classical music played backwards. Sometimes the dancing was choreographed to include videoworks, intervals also featured creatively shot dance videos. The atmosphere was electric, everything, including lighting, harmonized into a totally inspirational experience.


11 August 2010


Installation of the mural showing polished oak frameWe arrived at the hospital the day before the official unveiling along with the specialists we work with for print, construction and installation. Even though we had been to their workshop to double-check everything beforehand, it is always exciting to be on site coordinating the final installation. We had taken close-up photos of the hospital’s wood panelling giving detail of the polished oak grain, the mural frame matched this perfectly. Installation went very smoothly and we were all treated to lunch in the hospital’s canteen. Later we wrapped the mural in brown paper with a poster explaining when it was to be unveiled, and attached a red ribbon tied in a bow.

We travelled again to Lincolnshire the next morning to attend the Hospital’s Open Day. We arrived in Gainsborough to beautiful, hot, sunny weather. There was a lovely ‘garden party’ feel to all the stalls laid out on the large lawn in front of the grand Georgian style hospital. We joined a special guided tour of the operating section of the hospital, where I picked up an old-fashioned operating instrument and (unfortunately) got the answer to, “what exactly were these gruesome looking instruments used for?!”

Bob Rainsford & Ian Loxley unveiling the muralAt the appointed time we gathered in the main corridor, and there was a short speech from Matron Jill Anderson. Two specially invited guests; Bob Rainsford, local dignitary, and Ian Loxley, supplier of the story of WWII shrapnel that had been removed from his mothers’ leg; then cut the ribbon and tore off the brown paper to unveil the mural.

Jill Anderson presenting me with a bunch of flowersMuch to my surprise, I was presented with a large bunch of flowers, and Tony a very nice bottle of wine. It had been a very enjoyable project to work on, and I can’t wait to design the next mural that will follow work to develop the hospital site.


5 August 2010

We first met Gail Bolland back in 1992. At the time Gail was the arts coordinator for Leeds General Infirmary. It was approaching the hospitals 125th anniversary and Gail was tasked with mounting a temporary historical exhibition. To cut a long story short, we ended up creating a permanent display consisting of six photographic murals, each covering a different subject. Seventeen years later and the displays are still there and are used as part of the induction of some of the medical staff.

For over a decade we worked together with Gail on many projects. Gail’s success culminated in the forming of ‘Tonic – the arts pick-me-up” . Delivered by a team of three permanent staff, Gail was assisted by Claire Pope, (pictured with Gail – see note below) and Josie Aston.

Between 1992 and 2004 we designed and created all the promotional literature, leaflets, brochures folders etc for Tonic, along with other poster campaigns for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Along the way, promoting the 6 different heritage projects and many other visual and performing arts programmes that Tonic ran under Gail’s watchful eye. I’m sure that we speak for many other artists supported by Tonic, in wishing Gail a very happy and contented retirement in the knowledge that she expertly fundraised and delivered high quality artwork and performing arts programmes, totalling several million pounds, that are highly appreciated across the hospitals of Leeds.

You can see all the projects we worked on with Gail by clicking on the ‘locations’ tab at the top of our website and then following the links to each project.

Claire Pope went on to form the highly successful You can read about them on the new Culture and Wellbeing website

Josie Aston is the Wellcome Trust Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme and a freelance arts coordinator. We created heritage displays with Josie in Beckenham (2007) and Orpington (2009).