Create the Treasured Tree with WHALE

WHALE Arts launches the Treasured Tree project involving the Adult Programmes participants to remotely create leaves, blossom and fruit to be displayed together as a large sculpture in September.

With the aim to keep all participants who used to attend the adults groups connected, entertained and actively creative, the community-led arts charity and social enterprise in the South West of Edinburgh, WHALE Arts has launched a new project.

The facilitators of all adult groups have been busy working collaboratively and came up with the creation artform of a tree, The Treasured Tree.

Every single member who participates in the adult programmes at WHALE is invited to participate from their own homes helping to build it in three different stages for which they receive art packs with craft materials to firstly, design the Leaves, then the Blossom and finally the Fruits.

The end result is to symbolically plant the Tree in the art centre at the end of Summer, share it on social media and invite everyone to view it once the building is re-open. Also open to give it continuity by  travelling around the area making the wide community feel connected by its roots.

Behind the Scenes – meet the groups and facilitators!

This project is supported by WHALE’s co-production artist in residence Morvern Odling. The Treasured Tree the co-production project ‘Growing Our Own Artists’ Morvern leads is supported by the William Grant Foundation and Creative Scotland, and has adapted to support ongoing collaborations during the Covid-19 crisis. The project is also supported by Fabien Merville, one of the core team at WHALE Arts.

The adult facilitators in this collaborative project and groups involved are Rachael Hunter representing SmARTcraft, Lillian Shipton: Let’s Create, Debbie Wright: Stitch’n’time and Sindy Santos: Mums into Business.

SmARTcraft is an art group for adults with diverse needs. This group provides an open and inclusive space for its members to try out new creative techniques. The members of smARTcraft are very varied in their approach to art and enjoy drawing, painting, animation and model making, among many other disciplines.

Rachael Hunter is a multi-disciplined visual artist, with a background in animation and film making. She has worked in community art and youth work for over 5 years and has been the SmARTcraft lead artist since January 2018.

Let’s Create is a therapeutic art group for women. They meet on a Tuesday and spend the morning immersed in creativity, making anything from naturally dyed paper to lino printing and everything in-between. At the end of each session they come together to share a meal,  debrief about the day so far, chat about their weeks and create a safe space which is welcoming, warm and most of all fun.

Lillian Shipton, Art Therapist and Ceramicist. Lillian is an art therapist who enjoys working with children, young people and adults from all different walks of life. She is also a ceramicist and believe in the therapeutic benefits of working with clay, both within her own art and within her art therapy practice.

Stitch ‘n’ Time is a group of people who share a love of stitching. They love getting together on Tuesday afternoon to sew, knit, Crochet, embroider or even glue! They love creating items for local organisations. They learn new skills while giving back to the local community. Hardly a week goes past without a good laugh shared over a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

Debbie Wright loves all things to do with fabric. She has run her own soft furnishings business for the past 20 years. She likes nothing better than sharing her love of sewing with other people hence Stitch’n’time came into being over ten years ago.

MUMS into BUSINESS is a supportive group designed for main carers with an interest in setting up their own business. Adviced by professionals like Business Gateway, the group has been meeting Fridays at WHALE with creche since 2018. Also celebrate Markets in the South West Edinburgh community where the Ladies sell products or promote services. The sessions are now on Zoom.

Sindy Santos got her degree in Journalism in Spain where she worked for different newspapers, radio and government press. Then moved to Scotland and lived the last decade in South West Edinburgh. She writes about this community and coordinates Mums into Business among other creative projects.

They all agree this is a great way to keep the participants’ creativity levels up and busy during the months of lockdown, a time of physical distancing yet making social connections and the hope for a future when everyone will come together again.

As Debbie well said about the Treasured Tree Project

The participants are being represented by the branches, leaves and WHALE Arts centre being the trunk. The trunk is pointless without the branches. The finished item would show everyone who took part that they are in fact the blossom and the fruit of the WHALE Tree, each one beautiful and valuable”

We are looking forward to the final piece, but for now, first set of art packs on the way, bring on the creativity skills, let’s the fun begin and make memories!

And if you are not a member registered at WHALE but live in Wester Hailes and want to participate, there are still a small number of packs which can be signed up for. Don’t hesitate and ask for yours at It is a fun thing to share with the little ones, too! 

Article submitted by Sindy Santos 

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