Book Cosies (Art as Evidence)

It is mainly knitting that goes on at the St. Ninians Craft Group meetings every Tuesday afternoon. Well actually, it’s mainly talking. One woman announces with surprise in her voice, “I’ve done 6 rows today!” The group is the only one that does not take a summer break, but continues to meet all year round. Sitting around the table with them and hearing the right good blether going on around me, I instantly understood that the knitting is purely a vehicle for companionship amongst the women who attend.

Most had a hand in knitting the cosies for this book, and a few made it their mission to produce them. I was told, “Every time you ask what she’s knitting it’s another cosy, she’s made hundreds.” The task to construct each cosy was often shared between people, with each woman’s forte used in collaboration. There are knitters and sewers in the group, and when squares were created they were often passed to those who got the satisfaction of sewing up the end product and popping on the button.

I spoke to one woman who had not long started coming to the group. She was on her own and found meeting each week a great source of friendship and company. She had knitted a cover for the book, but shawls were really her thing. She knitted away with lilac-blue wool as she told me about the Prayer Shawls that the group knitted. This is particularly impressive to me since I relearned to knit not that long ago, and keeping a pattern in your head, counting stitches, remembering which row you are on and talking all at once is way beyond me. Every few weeks the group gathers in a semi-circle and a prayer is said to go with the shawl to whoever receives it. Each member holds each shawl and sends their thoughts with it also. The shawls go out into the local area but they are also sent to Malawi. She seemed very proud of this connection to such a far-flung place - a little piece of Abbeyview’s creativity and community spirit travelling the world.

On the mention of being creative, however, the woman said that no, no she wasn’t, her friend was arty and chose all the paint colours for her flat because she wouldn’t have a clue what would go. The suggestion was that knitting is different to drawing or painting, but I disagree. The connection between brain and hand to produce or reproduce something is a fundamental act of creativity. It seems to be our perception of being creative that limits us. Society and upbringing moulds people into labelling themselves as ‘arty’ or not. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to point out the creativity involved, to show the person the evidence, and so give them the confidence to create. The knitted cosies of this book are evidence, both of creativity and of community.

Carol Lambie

Nicola Atkinson Does Fly


The Buzz at the Bus Stop

The bus stop at the Abbeyview shops was where it was at for Nicola's stall at the Abbeyview Festival on Sun 23rd August. Nicola, Hanna and I adorned the bus stop with paper chains, crows and cardboard house which blew in the familiar hill top wind. Armed with materials for colouring in and making paper chains at one end of the shelter and project memorabilia at the other end, we drummed up business.

Nicola wanted to create an evolving exhibition by asking young and old to colour her drawing of a chair and have it displayed in a frame on the windows of the shelter. For their efforts they received a choice of specially designed badges, cloth bags, the SEE EYE book, Stevie Jacksons 7" record and entered into the competition to win one of four golden chairs Nicola had made for the Take A Seat project. Four Runners up received children's chairs which we decorated on the day with vinyl designs.

Being on the peripheral of the festival made the art stand an event within the event, people got word of something up at the bus stop, kids told other kids and by word of mouth our bright paper-chained oasis became a bit of a destination. Kids loved choosing their colour of frame and seeing their artwork on display straight away, for all to see, parents loved the wee seat on the wall while it all went on.

At 4pm quite a crowd gathered back at the bus stop to hear the winning entries and collect the artwork to take home for their wall. Piece by piece the exhibition dissolved just as it had evolved until only the paper chains were left moving in the breeze, seeming to symbolise all those who walked up to us and creating our link to the festival through the people of Abbeyview, just as it should be. (The Lamb)


Nick Miller talks about Abbeyview

I enjoyed the experience of working in Abbeyview immensely. I was especially drawn to the idea of an artist-led project marking this great change in the built environment of Abbeyview and responding not just to the physical environment but also to the changing social environment. I found Abbeyview interesting in that it is similar to many housing schemes all over Scotland - a place built in the 1950s for people moving out of the cities and towns to "nicer”, “cleaner” areas with improved facilities and better housing. Curiously now, with the regeneration, the area is being made even more suburban, replacing flats with small semi-detached and detached houses because this is what people want to live in now. These buildings of the ‘50s seemed to mark a new cycle of impermanency both architecturally and culturally. By only lasting a few decades they sit in marked contrast to the presumed permanency of architecture and social engineering of the ever dominant Victorian era.

My aim with the Curiosity Cabinet was to highlight this sense of change by using old, discarded furniture, from the decades when the flats had stood. And with the furniture to create a new object which seemed to lack a single defining form, instead offering many different perspectives and space to engage the viewer’s imagination. For me, my brief time working in Abbeyview was extremely rewarding, especially in the connections I made with other artists as we found ways of incorporating their work into the cabinet.



The Fly and the Lamb have started working on the concept for the book that marks the final series of collaborative projects. It will be contained within lovingly hand-knitted book covers created by the congregation of St Ninian’s Church and available in the Autumn.

In my drawings I wanted to play about with the scale of the urban and natural landscape. The simple dandelion struck me as an irrepressible shaft of green and yellow that manages to spring up no matter how urban, how concrete the landscape is. That is why we term it a weed, a plant that we do not want growing in the prolific manner it does, in the random way it does, but this weed seems to captures time and regeneration beautifully. The aging process of the dandelion follows the set pattern of a vibrant yellow flower appearing, closing and opening once more to reveal a wispy globe of seed heads, waiting for a gust of wind to send them to new cracks in the concrete landscape. As Nicola and I talked about it, we saw that it symbolised man’s stucggle to control his environment, and particularily nature, in his quest for progress and refining his domain.

While I am studying and drawing the nature of the dandelion, Nicola is responding to these images with drawings based on the workings of manmade construction. Construction that is used in the regeneration of the area to build upon the newly created wasteland, obliterating any naturalisation that swiftly takes place when ground is left bare. And so they co-exist, each an unhalting process of establishment, maturation and termination with man living amongst it.

Meanwhile, Nicola and I have also been busy putting together the document archiving the Nicola’s residency in Abbeyview. I have been interviewing artists on their experience working in or responding to Abbeyview and will be putting a new featured artist on the blog each week. (The Lamb)

Drawing © Carol Lambie.



Nicola Atkinson Does Fly, the Abbeyview Artist, has been given six months extension (April - Sept '08) of her residency. With this time we can take stock of the Art Projects that have taken place in Abbeyview since Jan 2007. Here are the follow artworks that will take place: Tweed Street Tour 2; Please Take a Seat/The Grass is Greener; Artist Stand at the Abbeyview Park Festival & Art as Evidence Book with Knitted Covers.

Tweed Street Tour/2
Tuesday 29th July 11am – 4pm

Gerard Love from the Teenage Fan Club has created music for Abbeyview entitled "all I have to do is sit and wait" (18.43). Eighteen minutes and forty three seconds is time it takes to travel from Dunfermline Centre to Abbeyview by bus. It is part of the Tweed Street Tour art project. Nicola will ride on the D6/D5 bus all day on July 29th
inviting people to listen to the piece.

Please Take a Seat/ The Grass is Greener
Saturday 2nd August 11am – 4pm

A summer gathering in the Lynburn Corridor on August 2nd 11am – 3pm will bring together two artworks, both of which are about being separated but very much together in the community in Abbeyview. Nicola has transformed four dining chairs from the 90's and covered the seats in gold leaf fabric, separating the words 'Please Take a Seat' and embroidering one on each seat. She will invite people from Abbeyview and Dunfermline to bring a single chair from their home out into the park of the Lynburn Corridor to sit together and celebrate the summer. It has all the makings of a family event. Happening at the same event will be the other project where people can visit the two bridges that divide Abbeyview that will be painted with the words: 'THE GRASS IS GREENER'.

Artist Stand at the Abbeyview Park Festival
Sunday 24th August 11am – 4pm

Nicola Atkinson Does Fly will be there to talk to people about the artwork that has taken place in Abbeyview, it will have items from Art Projects Jan 07 – Aug 08.

Art as Evidence Book with Knitted Covers
Tuesday 23rd Sept 2pm, Book Launch & exhibit of the Knitted Covers

This will be the second book from the Abbeyview Artist. It will be the same size as the SEE EYE Book with the writing from Daniel Jewesbury and drawings by Carol Lambie & Nicola Atkinson Does Fly.

The St Ninians Congregation in Abbeyview will create the 1000 Knitted Book Covers. These have been designed by Nicola Atkinson Does Fly using 10 knitted squares and one coat button. The choice of the colour and button will be made by the knitter, along with which charity will receive the donation for producing them. The Minister Rev Elizabeth Fisk and the Congregation have really got behind this art project to create a movement of knitters for one common goal. I feel that they want to be involved in an artwork for the Abbeyview Community for several reasons, not just for a donation to the charity of their choice, giving the activity a real sense of purpose and community. The 1000-knitted book covers will be exhibited in the St Ninians Church in Sept 2008, it will be lovely to see them all together.

image credit

Nicola Atkinson Does Fly in Abbeyview with Claire Barclay R.A.D.A.R artwork 'We need more and different flags'

A Review by Lynette Snedden

Flowers versus Portraits Public At Gathering. 13th March 2008
Featuring: Nicola Atkinson Does Fly – Abbeyview Artist, Hanna Tuulikki, Gerald Love, Daniel Jewesbury and Clare Barclay

I sat at the back of the hall, trying to keep a low profile. Nicola called me over and asked me if I would ask everyone to take there seats as the exhibition was about to begin. I did so in the least nervous voice that I could muster, then as Nicola, accompanied by Ben Reynolds on guitar, started their piece, I crept back to my seat.

As the guitar melody filled the hall, I felt a shiver of excitement; this was what we had worked for. Then Nicola’s voice joined the haunting melody. The song was from The Flowers of the Season, and a screen behind the performers showed beautiful illustrations by Cecily Barker, from 1925. The song reminded me of the old Scottish folk songs which where sang in Gaelic, and had a ‘Clannad’ feel to it. I enjoyed the song immensely and by the sound of the applause, the audience thought likewise. The song and drawings combined, had me enthralled from start to finish.

As they finished, my nerves started to show. Thankfully it was dark at the back of the hall and no-one could see how much I was shaking. I was more nervous for Hanna Tuulikki, she stood to one side looking petrified as our CD began and the slideshow of portraits she had drew, came to life together, for the first time. We had spent 7 weeks traveling around the Abbeyview area, hi-jacking unsuspecting people into singing musical notes for us. No-one was safe! The staff and students at the Tryst Centre, on a snowy, freezing cold afternoon, the staff and scared looking punters of the local bookmakers, even the local librarian lent her ‘’shy’’ voice to our quest! The list goes on and on… local schools, nursery children, local residents ‘’captured’’ on their doorsteps, and almost everyone asked, gave there all. The portraits of everyone who gave us a note, shone for all to see, some of the portrayed smiles, smiling for real as they saw themselves on the screen, these the result of photographs that Hanna had taken as she recorded them singing. It displayed all together like that, was everything I had hoped and more, Hanna had done a fantastic job, and the proof was there, literally in black and white.

We then where treated to a piece of music called ‘All I have to do is sit and wait ‘ inspired by the bus route from Dunfermline Town Centre to Abbeyview. The duration is 18 min. the same length as the journey, written by a musician called Gerald Love of the Teenage Fanclub music band. Because of the length of the piece, the audience members began quietly chatting with each other. I had to smile at this as, having ridden the bus on that particular route, I found myself on that journey again, in my minds eye and could imagine the different views from the window. The shops, houses, gardens and even the traffic lights all clearly pictured. I also felt myself relaxing more as it played. This is a beautiful piece of music, and I look forward to hearing more of Gerald’s music in the future.

Next to take the stage, was Daniel Jewesbury, an artist and writer, based in Belfast. He brought with him some of his ideas on public art. He made some very interesting points on what exactly public art was, and how we are sometimes mislead to believe that what we think is public art, isn’t always what it seems to be. He spoke of a particular statue, the ---- in ----. This was always believed to be classed as public art, when in fact the piece of land that it stood on, was actually privately owned, and as the public never actually asked for this to be put there, what gave the donators of the piece the right to call it public art. Daniel paced the stage, expressing with his hands as he spoke, this along with his passion for the subject, had the audience intrigued. He received a well deserved round of applause. And added kudo’s must be bestowed upon him for his dedication to his work, he had travelled that very day from Ireland to appear at the exhibition, was absolutely exhausted but went and gave his talk like he had just stepped from his house on his way to a party!

The final artist of the evening was Clare Barclay, she had completed her project, ‘’We Need More and Different Flags’’ by placing some of her 40 flags around the Abbeyview area and had more strung up around the hall. She had designed and made each and every flag there. A huge variety of colours and shapes adorned them. The flags that where on display in the hall, where gifted to the visitors of the exhibition. A few of the children who attended also posed for the resident camera man with the bonnie banners. Every one of the flags shown brought a colourful glow of warmth on an otherwise cold and dreary night. The weather may have kept a lot of people indoors, but to those who did attend, I would personally like to thank you for making the evening a huge success for myself and everyone involved.


"We need more and different flags"

I have enjoyed making this artwork for Abbeyview; learning a little about the place and meeting some members of the community in the process.

My idea, which led to the making of the many different flags, was to celebrate this moment of change in Abbeyview during the process of regeneration. A moment for both the collective community and individuals to think about identity and aspirations for their surroundings.

The flags were designed as a colourful stimulus to get people talking about these issues. I hope all of you that chose a flag to take home are enjoying them, and maybe even inspired to make your own flags.

Claire Barclay

She is part of the R.A.D.A.R (Random And Dynamic Art Risks) Art projects in Abbeyview. The unforeseen happenings and inspiration in Abbey view have been created by Nicola Atkinson Does Fly, Abbeyview Artist, Alan Grieve, Luke Fowler, Sophia Pankenier, Hanna Tuulikki & Claire Barclay.