The Student recently sat down with Nathaniel Cartier and Fraser Macdonald, the co-founders of the Edinburgh Collective, a network of creatives living in the Edinburgh area. They are attempting to put up a mural at the Bruntsfield Links public restrooms.
Q: So, in your own words, what is the Edinburgh Collective? What are you trying to do?
N: The Edinburgh Collective is the open network of creative people based around the city of Edinburgh. It’s not a group of people, there aren’t any members, it’s not about exclusivity or anything. It’s more of a symbol that should represent the Edinburgh creative scene and its creatives of all disciplines, all fields from music to arts and crafts to design and fashion, photography, film. Just the creative people based in and around Edinburgh.
Q: Has the Collective done any other projects besides the mural, or is this its first big thing?
N: We currently have three main projects. We have the Bruntsfield Links public mural project. We have Edinburgh Collective Student Showcase which is an event that we’re planning where we’ll have artists from all four unis in Edinburgh, and [it is going to] bring all those people together, have some music, some people with exhibitions going on. If there are some artists that we somehow come in contact with, who want to sell some of their things that they’ve been creating, they can do that, from arts and crafts to paintings and things like that. That’s all a possibility. That would be project number two.
F: It also ties in with the networking. The whole idea is to help people meet up with other people and create things, not just from their uni but from everywhere in Edinburgh.
N: The goal of the Edinburgh Collective is really to create opportunities to have people connect, create, and collaborate, and that’s something that we’re trying to support from students at the different universities and Edinburgh based people. The Student Showcase would also, even though I’m sure lots of students would go there, ideally be something that would be reported about in the local newspaper… At the moment our website is not up and running yet so our main goal is to get the website up and running.
And there’s a third project which is a video series that showcases Edinburgh musicians. We actually had organised a video of me doing a live session/performance at a plant shop called The Green Meadows… it’s a new, modern, hip plant shop, it’s got really cool lights and they’re quite active on social media. Together with the owner of the shop – his name’s Andrew – we’re organising a massive video series similar to NPR Tiny Desk with Edinburgh-based artists.
Q: What do you want the mural to signify for the community?
N: I think with the mural we kind of want to bring a touch of positivity back into people’s lives. Because the place that it’s at, so many people walk by it every day and I think it would be really nice for people to try and have a positive impact. Our main goal is to kind of have a positive impact on the community and create something that people are really happy about and proud of and think, ‘Oh that’s really nice, that’s so cool.’
F: The reason we decided it would be a good idea is because we saw the toilets were being painted a horrible yellow colour and spray painted with some black graffiti tagging, and got painted over by the council again, and got tagged again. It was just this perpetual cycle of graffiti, so part of the idea is it would help beautify the community, stop people graffitiing. And that seems to work, in other places we’ve seen murals, none of them are graffitied.
Q: How is it being paid for, by donations or another way?
N: That is the big question. What we will do is we will have to secure funding though various funding opportunities from Creative Scotland, to the Council, to crowdfunding. We asked the community. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Friends of the Meadows/Bruntsfield Links, they’re a smaller group of people who look after the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links and we got in contact with them first and asked them about their opinion on the project, their ideas, got the ‘okay’ from them to ask the wider community and with all the ideas we receive, Fraser and I are gonna send out to the artist in the next couple days, probably tomorrow, and give him all those ideas for extra inspiration. And he’ll come back at us with a proper price and as soon as we know that, Fraser and I can start properly getting serious about the funding.
F: One of the nice things about the way we’re doing it is we have a very relaxed time frame. If he comes back and says it will be £10,000, we can fundraise until we have that money and then get the mural done. We’re very open to whatever challenges are ahead. The majority of the funding will likely be through crowds. We would be very lucky to get a large grant, not that we won’t try our hardest, but most of it will be through crowds.
Q: People have been suggesting a lot of different things for what the mural could be, do you have a favorite one so far?
N: There is not favorite idea or anything like that, it’s more the ideas from this [Facebook] post, every single comment that has a worthy idea… especially the ones that have been liked a lot, for example, people have been talking about diversity, making sure it’s gender-expressive, I think that’s really important. Chris [the painter] is really in charge of the creative process. Fraser and I are not going to be drawing up sketches with him, it’s really going to be Chris doing that. We’re the organisers, making sure that it happens, making sure it’s a coherent project and that as many people are happy and satisfied, and that the community is happy.
F: It seems likely there will be an environmental/sustainability, ‘we should look after our planet’ message.
Q: After the mural is done, are there any long-term plans for the collective besides the website and the music?
N: An aim of the collective is really to boost the Edinburgh creative scene. We came up with the idea because, going around and talking to people, a lot of people feel that the creative scene in Edinburgh compared to Glasgow is kind of lacking. Fraser and I, down to the core, don’t actually believe that. There are so many creative people in and around Edinburgh. We’ve met up with so many creative people, we just want to bring the momentum to the creative scene…. Fraser and I are trying to create this local community of creative people that are active all the time. Long term goals would be that at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival we would have a section that is really just for artists, that they would be on stage. And for people internationally to go to these areas and be like ‘Wow, these are the Edinburgh people.’ We want to bring more locality back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well.
F: The way we’re running the Collective is just a series of projects, like the mural, like the Fringe. We’ve also spoken about organising master classes where we would invite an artist or a musician to come [and teach]. Just little steps towards saying to people, ‘Look, there are a bunch of creatives that you can do things with and can go and enjoy what they have to offer.’ Putting a spotlight on that.
Q: I know that you are a musician, how has the music scene changed since Covid, and how do you see the future of live music in Edinburgh?
N: I think it’s the same thing world-wide, more or less. As soon as people can gig publically, everyone wants to go out again. Everyone wants to enjoy live music, be out with society and enjoy what we now would see as this thing we took for granted. I think there will be this massive boom of events, maybe there will be too many. I think there will be loads of people who are super willing and motivated to play, artists really want to perform and consumers really want to go out and listen to music. As soon as lockdown restrictions are eased a little bit, I think it’s gonna be a massive surge of activity.
You can like The Edinburgh Collective on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/theedinburghcollective
Disclaimer: This interview has been edited for succinctness and brevity.
Image via Fraser Mcdonald and Nathaniel Cartier