Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop Re-introduction of Activity

Updated 16 August 2020.

Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is re-introducing activity step by step. We are missing the chance to see all our Members, users, audiences and collaborators face to face, but we look forward to interactions online and starting to welcoming you back to ESW over the next few months.

Since mid July the team has returned to work part time and we continue to re-introduce different sorts of activity, this started by providing more fully supported access to Studio Holders in late July and early August. We’ve also been able to open a new exhibition by Gregor Horne and Theo Christy in the street view Hawthornvale Space.

If all continues as forecast we will be able to facilitate:

  • Pilot of new pre-booked solo workshop and workspace access to Studio and Project Space Holders in the second half of August.
  • Pre-booked solo workshop and workspace access to all Members who have previously been inducted to the workshops in early September.
  • On site research and development for our programme of residencies and commissions in September.
  • Pilot of one outdoor course in September and October to establish options for group working.
  • Work with partner organisations for use of our outdoor spaces in September and October.

We feel hopeful that there are many elements of ESW’s activities that can resume over time and are committed to creating an excellent experience for people visiting. We are increasing access to ESW as soon as it is safe to do so and will continue to take into account:

  • Government instructions.
  • Specific sectoral guidance for cultural organisations.
  • The ability for ESW to function well under new arrangements and remain strong as an organisation for everyone.
  • Fluctuations in the pandemic situation and challenges that we encounter at ESW.

We have a complex mix of activities under one roof and will also be taking into account those which are most urgent for members and others to access as well as the specific practicalities for each type of access.

Here’s further information about the processes which ESW is working through and when to anticipate the commencement of different types of access:

Dates Forecast Work being done and types of accessMore details
7 – 19 July STAFF return 1 day per week to work on new systems in line with Scottish Government guidance for studios and shared workspaces.- Establish new office configuration.
- Review initial Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work including in respect to cleaning.
- Receive equipment and hygiene supplies with longer delivery times.
- Staff team mainly remote working.

21 July – 16 AugustFacilitation of increased STUDIO / PROJECT SPACE HOLDERS access to studios; configure new solo workspaces.- New systems in place including a way for studio holders to plot in when they will be in the building so we can monitor peak times.
- Review if access to outdoor workspaces can be piloted earlier.
- Staff team continue part time (staggered work pattern).

18 – 31 August Pilot access to workshops for STUDIO/PROJECT SPACE HOLDERS.- ESW Reception will begin functioning.
- Pre booked solo access to workshops and workspaces.
- Staff team continue part time (staggered work pattern).
1 – 13 September (dates TBC)Pilot access for MEMBERS to workshops and workspaces.- Pre booked solo access to workshops and workspaces.
- Staff team continue part time (staggered work pattern).
15 – 30 September (dates TBC)Pilot access for training/small groups.
Throughout this period we will continue to:- Test ideas with the working group.
- Work on financial monitoring and planning.
- Involve partners and networks in planning.
- Communicate about further dates and changes.


If you are in one of the groups who can now access ESW please read our Check List Flowchart before coming to the building. We also have an Access Manual for Studio and Project Space Holders which has more detail about using the building. We would also appreciate if you could read the Scottish Governments Guidelines for Studios and Shared Workspaces, especially the two checklists, one for Studio Providers and one for Studio Holders which lays out how we can work on what’s needed together.

Thanks to everyone who has kept in touch with us during the lockdown and who has volunteered to be part of the working group for restarting activity, please contact laura@edinburghsculpture.org with any questions and offers of help.

ESW in lockdown

We are continuing to share useful information for our members through social media and the Members Opportunities Newsletter which has information about support measures and open calls. Look out for our Monday Member and Moving Sculpture series online.

Residency plans have been adapted with our international partners and we hope to host artists from around the UK as well as Lithuania, Germany later in the year; with some residencies already postponed to 2021, including our Japan / Scotland Residency Exchange.

We look forward to coming back to vibrant activity at ESW including a major public commission with Ashanti Harris and residencies for Gediminas G. Akstinas and Ivana Pavlíčková. We also hosted Wiyoga Muhardato on an extended residency at ESW until it was safe for him to travel home to Indonesia in late June.

The pandemic has amplified the social issues which were of most concern within our local and cultural community and we are further motivated to work with participants, artists and partners to refocus on those social, economic and equality discrepancies when we return to facilitating for art and exchange to happen at ESW. In the section below you can find information about north Edinburgh response to COVID-19.

We are also taking further steps as a team to deal with the overall situation. As a measure to try to adapt to the hiatus in activity and take strategic steps to mediate against the downturn in income for ESW, most of the team entered into Furlough on 1 May 2020. Furlough is paid leave and in this very particular situation it means we can use the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to reclaim some staffing costs. This is a really appreciated and essential action which team members have taken. The CJRS continues from 1 July with a flexible furlough element which enables ESW staff to return one day per week initially, building up over the next few months.

Please keep in touch with us as we plan for the future, by directing any enquiries to our normal office email or to laura@edinburghsculpture.org

Further information

  • Following the government guidance around COVID-19, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop closed to the public temporarily from 18 March 2020.
  • If you have booked for a course we have contacted everyone individually. Thanks to everyone who had confirmed that they either would like to retain their booking or have a refund. If this correspondence hasn’t got through to you, please contact our main office email.
  • If you have a Gift Voucher or Session Voucher which expires during this closure we will be pleased to extend this and can do this the next time you come into ESW when we re-open.
  • Cafe MILK is open for take away, with tables on the terrace and some tables inside. Please also check out their MILK DELIVERS service.
  • We will continue our ESW Member communications during this time as we realise it’s even more important to be able to share opportunities and supportive information. You can join as a member here.
  • We are not operating a standard reception service as yet but you can contact staff through normal channels including leaving phone messages for us to pick up. You will understand that we are all working different times and juggling other responsibilities so it might take us longer to respond. In addition team members are only working two days per week in August and their time will be focused on moving through the step by step process we have laid out.
  • You can link to our social media channels through the boxes at the base of this page, where there’s also a way to sign up to our free mailing list.
  • We are in touch with ESW Studio and Project Space Holders with additional information separately.
  • You can collect ‘I can help’ slips to distribute to neighbours, from a box file outside the main entrance of ESW.
  • Further resources:
  • https://www.creativescotland.com/
  • https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/coronavirus including ‘Can you help?’ section about how to volunteer.
  • https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-guidance-for-artists-and-arts-organisers/


There is a large community effort in the North East of Edinburgh, within Newhaven where ESW is based and the surrounding areas. You can read the community activity bulletin, which is prepared by Elaine Lennon, here… It includes links to NHS Lothian, Edinburgh City Council, the Scottish Government’s Ready Scotland website, opportunities to help, links to local organisations, a very extensive online list of activities ideas, for adults and children, and a list of emergency contacts.

Please email elaine.lennon@edinburgh.gov.uk if you have any community news to share. More info about submitting is near the end of the document.


You can support the work of ESW and artists through one-off donations, or by becoming a Member.

Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is grateful for the support it receives from Creative Scotland, Culture Edinburgh – Edinburgh City Council and its other project funders.