Building Fresh Perspectives

Fresh Fruit is a youth programme for 8–25 year olds run by The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. It consists of creative workshops for 8–15 year olds, co-production projects with artists and young people aged 16–25, a paid internship for a young person aged 16–25, partnership working with youth and community organisations, and trips to arts and cultural venues.

The Fruitmarket Gallery’s Engagement programme brings people together with art, artists and cultural practitioners to talk about, reflect on and make art. Our varied programme of projects and events aim to increase the confidence, creative and critical skills of participants from a diverse range of backgrounds, supporting them to access art and produce high quality work.

This case study focuses on a strand of the Fresh Fruit youth programme, Fresh Fruit Pop Up. Running during The Fruitmarket Gallery’s building development from our temporary base at Waverley Mall, Fresh Fruit Pop Up consists of free weekly drop-in workshops for 8–15 year olds. Taking place in a large dedicated empty shop unit in a prominent location on the lower level of the Mall in Edinburgh’s city centre, sessions are run by artist educator Louise Fraser and Fresh Fruit Intern Brooke Milliken. Louise has worked as a teaching artist for fifteen years since graduating from her MFA at Edinburgh College of Art. She works across Scotland devising and delivering imaginative and original workshops. As well as delivering Career-long Professional Learning (CLPL), she also devises resources for galleries and councils, drawing on her experience as a freelance arts educator and a secondary school Art and Design teacher. She continues to develop her own art practice from her studio in Leith, Edinburgh, while pursuing personal projects such as Teach Art, a residency programme for art teachers in Scotland run over the summer holidays. Brooke is a creative young person based in Edinburgh. Having recently returned to education to study for a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Contemporary Art Practice, Brooke’s developing work explores her personal experience of growing up. Brooke enjoys helping others to access positive arts experiences and is looking to develop these skills as Fresh Fruit Intern.

Junk art station at Fresh Fruit Pop Up. Photo: Chris Scott

The Fruitmarket Gallery has been running Fresh Fruit Leader Training since 2015. Young people aged 16–25 received training and mentoring to develop and deliver their own creative workshops for 8–15 year olds. Fresh Fruit Leaders took on a range of roles including co-delivery, assisting and fully leading sessions. From this grew a need for longer-term, paid opportunities for young people to develop the complex range of skills required for interpreting art and responding to participants’ needs and interests. The Fresh Fruit Intern role is particularly targeted towards applicants who are unrepresented in the arts or from marginalised communities, to diversify the reach and creative practice explored throughout the programme.

Programmed into four themed blocks of weekly workshops, Fresh Fruit Pop Up first focused on The Fruitmarket Gallery’s building development. Build it! engaged participants in making new structures for human habitation that took over the whole space, working with repurposed and recycled materials. Urban Tales explored different ways to create art inspired by narratives in the city around us, taking as its starting point Night Walk for Edinburgh, an immersive video walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town by artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, commissioned by The Fruitmarket Gallery. The third block, initially sketched out as Your Choice, was a programme based on young people’s choices about creative activities for the space developed with Louise and Brooke over conversations and responses during the first two series. The resulting programme, Studio Takeover, had a different theme each week — Drawing Studio, challenging expectations of what drawing can be; Sculpture Studio, experimenting with clay and large-scale structures; and Print Studio learning mono and press printing techniques. The final workshop, Anime Studio, was run in collaboration with Anime Republic focusing on the animation style that originated in Japan and on manga Japanese comic art. Consolidating techniques across Studio Takeover, participants drew, sculpted and printed anime characters from life with cosplay models from the University of Edinburgh Anime and Animation Society in Pokémon and Japanese sailor suit costumes.

Cosplay life drawings at Anime Studio, February 2020. Photo: Chris Scott

Working in partnership is integral to Fresh Fruit Pop Up, to reach more young people and raise awareness of the regular workshop offer at The Fruitmarket Gallery. Programmed before each block of workshops, partner sessions tested activity with groups to see what works and what needs to be changed, developed and adapted for the open-access programme. During Fresh Fruit Pop Up we ran creative taster workshops with young people from 6VT Youth Café’s October holiday club testing making spinning sculptures and window drawing, and invited a group of P5–7 pupils from Royal Mile Primary School to imagine a new future for The Fruitmarket Gallery as their own school was also undertaking a building development. Louise and Brooke were resident at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital for a day, delivering creative activities with children and their families in the Outpatients department. With no other arts provision at the hospital on Fridays, this provided much needed creative activity to reduce stress in the hospital environment, in particular during long waiting times. Children and their families were given packs of materials to take away to continue their creative activities at home.

The final block of workshops has been designed by Brooke, supported by Louise to develop her ideas responding to what has worked well in the space and what new skills and techniques participants would be excited to explore. Tear It Up, Make It Up follows Brooke’s interests in craft, printing and fashion. Playfully titled Lighten Up!, Stick It Up! and Weave It Out!, sessions explore photography, bookmaking, badge making, painting, collage and weaving. Finally, participants can make their own designs to print and paint on tote bags in In The Bag!, marking the end of this iteration of Fresh Fruit Pop Up in the Mall.

Badge making at Fresh Fruit Pop Up. Photo: Chris Scott

In August 2020 the Fruitmarket reopens on Market Street with reinvigorated gallery spaces, a new space for creative collaborative working and for the first time a dedicated Studio for arts workshops and events. The pop ups will evolve into Fresh Fruit Studio, free monthly workshops for 8–15 year olds responding to Fruitmarket exhibitions and commissions, and the artists and young people’s own interests. As Assistant Artist Brooke will continue to work alongside Louise to develop skills in creating and leading workshops in a different format (for practical reasons the Studio workshops will be bookable), responding to exhibitions and incorporating in-gallery talks and activities with creative practical making. The partnerships strand will develop into monthly sessions at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital, trialling working on the Wards where artists will often be working one-to-one with children and young people.

Large scale wall drawing at Fresh Fruit Pop Up. Photo: Chris Scott


In 2019–20 the Engagement team developed and began to trial a new Evaluation Framework capturing data on the impact of our work across the team in the programme areas of community engagement, creative learning, enterprise engagement and research and interpretation. For Fresh Fruit Pop Up artist and participant evaluation is captured and measured against outcomes that cut across the team’s work, and indicators that are project-specific. Artists complete Post Session Reviews and integrate creative participant evaluation methods into workshops, the most effective being a large post-it wall capturing feelings before and after sessions, art skills learned, and what participants wanted to do next. With a block of four workshops still to go, figures are showing a 142% increase in attendance compared to the equivalent workshop programme in 2018–19, with a mix of regular gallery visitors and passers-by discovering us in the Mall.

To date, data shows an increase in confidence, in particular trying something new, pride in their work, and going on to utilise and develop skills outside sessions. Participants have increased their creative skills, especially learning new art techniques. Data shows people with a diverse range of experiences are better able to access art. New participants feel comfortable in the space, and are accessing creative activities they wouldn’t otherwise have known about or thought they would enjoy. Overwhelmingly, participants enjoy having their own space with a range of creative activities on offer that are not all led or overly structured.

Caitlin McKinnon
Creative Learning Curator, The Fruitmarket Gallery