Inverkeithing Arts Initiative were delighted when local artist Rosie Gibson asked us to collaborate with her on her Afternoon Tea on 15th October 2015, the culmination of her five day Trading Wisdom Art Event on Inverkeithing High Street. Trading Wisdom was one of the numerous art events taking place around Scotland in the Luminate Festival from 10th-17th October 2015.

Trading Wisdom

Rosie gathered ‘nuggets of wisdom’ from local people born between 1925-35, her mother’s generation, celebrating…

“both the grittily lyrical wisdom of my mum’s generation and also the shops and businesses in the High Street. I was curious about what happens if you put the two together’,

She wove the nuggets into art events in a variety of trading places around the high street of Inverkeithing, in pubs, the optician, locksmith, hardware store, cafe etc., each telling a story based on these pieces of wise advice and memories of the past. The younger generation also got involved. Local schoolchildren provided inspirational artworks, created during a project led by Inverkeithing Arts Initiative and based on their response to a nugget about Caldwell’s Paper Mill. Their work was represented on placemats in the Cafe. Local children also got a chance to express what they think their futures hold with the installation in Thistle Locks and Alarms. A recording of the question ‘Podemos?’  (Can we?) was answered by the children with a resounding ‘Yes we can!’

Afternoon Tea at the Civic Centre, on Thursday 15th October 2015.


The Afternoon Tea was a chance for everyone involved with the art event to come together and celebrate. Rosie made hand-made chocolates to savour, and delicious cakes were made by local bakers. Bristol Branch provided the afternoon’s music to dance to.

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Rosie asked Inverkeithing Arts Initiative to create the setting for the event, and the theme we developed was of a drying green on a summer’s day.  We wove the nuggets amongst the everyday washing and other domestic items, using  embroidery and luggage labels, on baby clothes and men’s shirts, pinnies and football boots, pillowcases and washing baskets. The themes of ‘Work’ and ‘Play’ threaded through the whole project, indeed Rosie featured the quote by Scottish author and artist Alastair Gray:

 “Work and play as if you are living in the early days of a better nation.

This quote and the other nuggets from Rosie’s project inspired us; the girl who worked at the long- gone Caldwell’s Paper Mill  in Inverkeithing, the mother who provided endless meals for her children, the hope that new technology will free us from work and give us more time to spend with our families, and of course, the shops and businesses of Inverkeithing who agreed to take part in Rosie’s project.

For a while, we all shared in this sense of hope, optimism and determination. Maybe we can all imagine taking a moment’s break from our work, to just stand on the green in the sunshine and imagine a better future?

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