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Art at home – Ark collaborates with the National Galleries of Scotland

Who would have thought that during a pandemic we would have started a collaboration with the magnificent National Galleries of Scotland?

When Mara Barth, Project Learning Officer for the Galleries approached us, we were delighted! Mara said:

‘I work on the Scottish National Gallery project as learning officer, this is the construction project currently underway at the Mound in Edinburgh. The project will create new gallery spaces for Scottish art and will open to the public by the end of 2022. In the lead up to the opening, many strands of activity are already underway – one of the activities I deliver is Art in the Open, where we go out into parks with drawing materials and invite people to have a go - currently we’re not able to deliver these sessions, so I thought I’d bring the activity to you!
Looking to the essential work that Ark does and all the challenges that staff and supported people will have faced over the last year I wanted to create something fun and a bit different that people could try out by themselves or together with staff.
I profoundly believe that creativity and art can brighten our days. Packing some materials, images and ideas in a box seemed like a simple, yet effective way to connect in these times where so many of us are unable to see our friends or get out much. 
Sending these packs through the mail allowed us to connect with people across Scotland. Also, I think we all enjoy getting nice post – especially at the moment. I know I do!’


Some of the people we support have been following the ‘stay at home’ guidelines since March 2020. With day centres and other specialist provisions still closed, they increasingly reported feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Our staff had been amazing at finding creative ways to keep people entertained, involved and happy while keeping them safe. The art pack offered by the National Galleries included creative goodies and a fun and accessible art activity that people could do by themselves or with staff.

The response from people was enthusiastic and we quickly had a list of 60 individuals, across all Ark services from the Scottish Borders up to Stornoway, who couldn’t wait to get their hands on the art pack Mara was preparing. 

Supported people said:

‘I loved the art pack. I am proud of what I made and the bauble is now hanging in my room’.
‘The parcel looked lovely and it was nice to receive it through the post’.
‘The activity was easy and fun to do’.


Gloria, Ark’s Participation Officer said:

‘this collaboration with the National Galleries was extremely successful and we are grateful that they thought of us! The activity designed by Mara specifically for the people we support was fun and accessible to all ages and abilities. It definitely provided a much needed boost to people’s morale, increased their confidence and made people feel seen and not forgotten. People felt proud of their creation which was hung from their windows or Christmas tree. We thank the National Galleries for this opportunity and we hope to continue the collaboration!’


And indeed we will! Due to the success of the Art packs we have decided to invite Mara to our next virtual Voices Group meeting to have an ‘art café’. The meeting is open to all Ark supported people and if you would like more information you can contact Gloria, Ark Participation Officer at 07912 054 607.


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