Snapshots & Sketches the interpretations


The creation of motifs and wording to be incorporated into the new street furniture in Inverkeithing for the forthcoming heritage regeneration sparked a project for community artists, and was instigated in the spring of 2020. It quickly became evident that trying to follow usual pathways, such as engaging schoolchildren, was going to be extremely challenging as we entered the first Covid 19 lockdown in March. Inverkeithing Arts responded with a counter plan to still engage several members of the community of Inverkeithing, with a good cross section of ages, genders etc, by dipping in to our list of people with whom we have previously done projects and classes over the last few years. They all knew us well, in many cases they are our friends and family, and they have gotten used to the values and methods of Inverkeithing Arts Initiative. Apart from this, we knew them as talented and thoughtful individuals, and we knew they would bring a lot of quality and attention to the project.

The Artists:

We approached several people from our list, and eight agreed to take part, engaging with the brief, and with the historical materials, as much as they could. Difficulties due to lockdown were accepted as part of the project’s limitations, but they were more than willing to proceed, often self-directedly. By October 2020 we were rewarded by our trust in the individuals with a wonderful exhibition of very high quality work across several genres. Some of the artists developed their ideas further into conceptual and site specific work, and others plan to continue to explore the themes they uncovered. The excellence of work, the level of engagement, and the willingness to be open ended in approach, is what led us to two decisions: to incorporate everyone’s work in the motifs for the heritage regeneration, and to plan for the scope of the project to be further developed during 2021.

The difficulties which the group faced in trying to meet face to face, share ideas or work together revealed just how vitally important they are to our sense of community and health. The group continued to feel the project was a communal one, despite the limitations, and we wanted to honour this. It seemed fitting at this present moment in history, to include everyone’s work rather than declare a ‘motif winner’.


A small and expressive sketch of a Janus head, by Donna Sinclair, inspired by her memory of a statue which used to sit on the Inverkeithing Townhouse roof when she was a young girl, revealed its potential as a key or anchor for the resulting motifs. It has such a ‘complete’ and balanced shape, and the two swirls of hair cry out for the inclusion of imagery. The faces look in opposite directions and bring to mind past and future, west and east, sea and land or any number of dichotomies within which to place our interpretations.

The deciton to use this image as a key motif provided a base on which to create a series of interpretations, incorporating work by all of the artists. Our brief talks about a wish to explore the past, present and future of Inverkeithing, and the artists met this brief through their own lenses of nature, work and play, caring for each other, witch trials, and the industrial and built landscapes, to name just a few.

Over the next few blog entries, we’ll explore each of the interpretations, and through them, each of the artists, in turn.


May Day & Beltane Celebrations

Play on the Green

When Inverkeithing Arts Initiative decided to hold our next event(s) on the 1st and 2nd May 2015, our thoughts turned to May Day, and traditional celebrations which mark the changing of the seasons. 

In Scotland, May Day was usually celebrated as the Celtic Beltane’s Day, a fire festival, still celebrated on Edinburgh’ Calton Hill, the purpose of which was to celebrate the changing of the seasons from spring to summer, and encourage crops to grow, while girls rose early to wash their faces in the dawn dew. We don’t think we can introduce real fire to the celebrations (!) but we’re thinking it’s a great excuse for us all to celebrate the fresh summer days, the budding of nature, and to have some fun outdoor activities for children (if possible).

We also found, from the book ‘Inverkeithing & North Queensferry Through Time’ by Eric Simpson and George Robertson, that the garden area next to the Civic Centre and behind the Friary was once known as ‘the children’s playfield’. We thought this was appropriate as we plan to have our daytime event on 2nd May at the Civic Centre.

This made us begin to wonder if Inverkeithing has ever had Beltane/May Day celebrations, after all, it is one of the places in Scotland which still celebrates the Lammas Day on 1st August, with a procession, a Lammas Queen and the Hat and Ribbon Race.

For lots more interesting information about traditions in Scotland, visit

If anyone has any reminiscences of the past in Inverkeithing, or ideas for the May events, please do post on Facebook or get in touch by email:

(This comes from the blog at

images The Children’s Playfield, Inverkeithing (pre-1950s)

images-9  In more modern times