a group exhibition at Abbeyhill Primary School

LAUNCH as part of 15th Colony of Artists: The Garden Party 19-20 Sept 2020 | 11am-6pm | FREE

OPEN to experience at any time from 19 Sept 2020 onwards | FREE

Join us for a festival weekend with a difference!

Every third weekend in September for the last 15 years we have opened the doors of Abbeyhill Primary School – with its two Victorian buildings and large playground – as one of the exhibition venues of the Colony of Artists festival. In these COVID-19 times when even our Colony of Artists bee mascot knows how to bee kind and responsible, we have migrated to two new exhibition platforms instead – windows and screens! It is the windows of the school and the screens at your homes and fingertips that our artists-in-residence have taken over for our new 2020 exhibition WINDOWS AND SCREENS!

Missed our festival launch? Our group exhibition WINDOWS AND SCREENS has remained open and free to experience even after our Colony of Artists weekend. It is yours to explore. Start here.

In 2013 we started with only five artists-in-residence projects bringing the wonder of contemporary arts to every child and teacher through partnerships with various funders and organisations! Since then we have welcomed over 50 professional artists to the school inspiring over 200 children a year to create, exhibit and perform at Colony of Artists.


site-specific windows installation

The windows of the school are the new exhibition platform for Bee Kind – our 15th Colony of Artists festival centrepiece now that the school’s Assembly Hall is out of bounds in these extraordinary times! Follow the colonies of bees created by all pupils – from Nursery to Primary 7 – led by Ieuan Scott-Woodhouse and all the school staff. Spot some of these busy bees ‘polinating’ the windows of our local shops and businesses during the weeks leading up and during the Colony of Artists festival. Remember to take a glimpse at the school windows every time you are in the Abbeyhill area . Our bees are thriving on the school windows and will remain on view at this new gallery home well after the Colony of Artists festival launch! Enjoy!

The Assembly Hall in the Main Building of Abbeyhill Primary School has always been our festival hub since the annual Colony of Artists started in 2005.  Year on year each class would mount their own take on a themed exhibition there. We have kept this festival spirit alive and a new class teachers-led themed display has accompanied each of our artists-in-residence exhibitions on view throughout the rest of the school grounds since 2014. The class teachers-led displays featuring all pupils, from Nursery to Primary 7, have included  Endangered Species (2014), Flower Power (2015), Summertime (2016), Dazzled (2017), Farewell to Aileen Patterson (2018) and No to Single-Use Plastics (2019) – with Bee Kind (2000) flying off the Assembly Hall’s walls and using the windows as the new canvas.


mobile phone app of about 60 minutes

Take a walk on the wild side in Holyrood Park – our school’s outdoor classroom. Just keep your screen handy (possibly an Android phone device) and head off to the Google Play Store here to download our free map app created by our app developers-in-residence Vlad Hasiu and Theresa Pickles.

While navigating your way through the park with our map app, remember to don your headphones for Abbeyhill Soundscape – a series of short binaural audio plays by our resident theatre makers from Citadel Arts Group. Keep your ears ‘spiked’ for The Wee World – the audio play by Vincent Maguire, inspired by the memories of the our former pupil and legendary footballer Billy Hunter who sadly passed away on 4 August 2020 as part of our special tribute to Billy.


video documentation highlights of about 50 minutes

Missed our Colony of Artists festival finale at the school’s Assembly Hall on 23 September 2018? Entitled CATS this finale was dedicated to Aileen Paterson (1934-2018), who in 2013/14 was one of our first artist-in-residence at Abbeyhill Primary School. Look out for a few cats including Maisie McKenzie of Morningside, the much loved character from Ms Paterson’s books. Increasingly known as Maisie of Abbeyhill!

Re-live the new play-in-the-making Spontaneous by Morna Pearson – our playwright-in-residence; the dance piece Maisie Goes to the Highlands by our choreographer-in-residence Eleanor Robertson and the poetry and pipes duet Goodbye to England by Rodney Relax and Leighann Dudley.


video and audio documentation highlights of about 70 minutes

Couldn’t make it to our Colony of Artists festival finale entitled PLAYTIME and held at the school’s Assembly Hall on 22 September 2019? Enjoy this new video release packed with drama and dance, stories and shanties dedicated to our school’s alumnus and football legend Billy Hunter (1940-2020). Look our for Billy’s cameo appearance! Just check the chapters timestamps in the description.

Re-live the new play Abigail’s Doll by Alan Mountford – our playwright-in-residence and Marilyn Wilson, drama artist-in-residence; the new dance piece Playtime by our choreographer-in-residence Eleanor Robertson workshopped with Nic Gareiss, step dance artist extraordinaire; Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle, and The Freedom Birds by Jan Bee Brown and Russell McLarty – our storytellers-in-residence.

Tune into Fun Run Sungun and Jazzies – two audio recordings and one video of spoken word and vocals on the theme of playtime by the Abbeyhill Playtime Gang led by Rodney Relax, our poet-in-residence and Oliver Ridgewell, our musician-in-residence.

Learn the lockdown dance with Eleanor Robertson – our choreographer-in-residence, in this class inspired by Michael Rosen’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt during the spring of COVID-19 lockdown and homeschooling.

Join Save Our Blue Planet – a protest staged by the 11 year old Primary 7 pupils from Abbeyhill Primary School inspired by the artist-in-residence Juliana Capes and held at Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh in early 2018.

Watch our award-winning documentary Abbeyhill Dreams directed by artist-in-residence Denis Mallon, our filmamaker-in-residence. It pays a tribute to both Roald Dahl’s storytelling power and the seminal documentary Singing Street (1951) by capturing how our 21st Century children play and learn today.


moving image, audio plays, comic books and video documentation highlights of about 30 minutes

Round off the hours of binge watching and listening with a 30 minute fine selection of seven works from POLSKI – our Polish artists-in-residence project co-curated with the Polish Contemporary Art Organisation since 2015.

Try your hand at Surrealism for Surreal Times – the first online workshop as part of Sylwia Kowalczyk’s digital residency in photography.

Crash into Party Portal – an audio play and an accompanying documentary investigating missing jewels and cake fights by our performance artist-in-residence Anna Danielewicz.

Watch Hatchlings – a music video by filmmaker-in-residence Dawid Gumula featuring some top acts by 11-year-olds.

Take a dive with a School of Fish – a highlight of Joanna Lubonska‘s eco-residency supported by our first marine conservartionist-in-residence Catherine Gemmell including her virtual Assembly talk Protect Our Oceans.

Blast off into space with Comic Universe (5 min read) – the anthology of Gen Z’s dark humour strips edited by our comic book artist-in-residence Zu Dominiak

Back in 2015, we invited the Polish Contemporary Art Organisation to co-curate POLSKI at our school and build on the success of their latest group exhibition WAVES. Just like WAVES, POLSKI showcases Polish artists and artists of Polish descent at different stages of their artistic practice working with various media — photography, creative writing, printmaking, installation, collage, film, ceramics and performance.

While WAVES stands for the constant movement, outflow and influx of Polish talent to the British shores, POLSKI extends this metaphor to include the migration wave of Polish families and young people that started in 2004 when Poland joined the European Union. POLSKI focuses on the ripples of creativity at the heart of Edinburgh’s Abbeyhill Primary School by inviting 2 or 3 Polish artists-in-residence per academic year to bring the wonder of contemporary art in the classroom to every learner from Primary 1 to 7 through a series of residency projects.

We grateful for the continued financial support of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh and the active involvement of all the Polish families and young people in our school and wider Abbeyhill community.

POLSKI artists since 2015 Sylwia Kowalczyk | Anna Danielewicz | Zu Dominiak | Joanna Lubonska | Dawid Gumula | Jolanta Dolewska | Anna York | Robert Motyka | Agnieszka Mietkiewicz | Kristin Mojsiewicz | Sylwia Kolasinska | Monika Szydlowska


The 15th Colony of Artists 2019 at Abbeyhill Primary School is curated by Iliyana Nedkova as part of the ongoing programme of artists’ residencies for spreading the wonder of contemporary arts to every pupil and teacher in and outside of the classroom

Curatorial support by Iga Bozyk | Patrycja Godula | Vlad Hasiu | Sally Ketchin | Keith Martin | William Forrest

In partnership with Colony of Artists Trust | Talbot Rice Gallery | Polish Contemporary Art Organisation | Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh | Marine Conservation Society | Traditional Dance Forum Scotland | Holyrood Park Education Centre, Historic Environment Scotland

Projects supported by Colony of Artists | Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh | Young Scot and Creative Scotland through Time to Shine Grant Fund | Young Scot and Natural Heritage Scotland through Future Routes Fund | Calton Youth Ministry Trust | Abbeyhill Primary School | Abbeyhill Primary School Parent Council