Media Release: A Passage of Light & Shade – A story about the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Front cover 'A passage of Light & Shade'


Nicola White

‘A Passage of Light & Shade’ – Book launch, 27 November 2013, 6pm at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery

ARTLINK is delighted to announce the launch of ‘A PASSAGE OF LIGHT & SHADE’, a new short story by author, Nicola White, commissioned by Artlink and published as a small book as part of Ever / Present / Past, a year-long programme commemorating the bicentenary of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) – funded by Creative Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

When Artlink was set the task of capturing the hospital’s history, it decided to approach the whole project in the same way it runs its workshops. First, start with the individual; learn from their experience; then see where it takes you.

The artists involved in the programme became researchers, meeting with individuals, slowly unearthing stories, collating these experiences, offering new perspectives, turning their research into artworks.

The result is EVER/PRESENT/PAST, a year-long programme curated and co-ordinated by Artlink which exposes the history of the REH through events, talks and exhibitions.

Nicola White’s story is a fictional exploration of certain scenes from the hospital’s history in the form of a diary and letters.

Through the eyes of a student researcher, it spans different moments in time and leads to a discovery that links the narrator personally with those who have stayed there.

In devising the story, Nicola met with patients and staff, and spent time in the Lothian Health Services Archive navigating her way through multiple accounts of life within the hospital.

We were aware that, for the writer, the sheer volume of experiences could be overwhelming, and that for everyone involved these memories might be incredibly sad and, at points, disturbing.

Nicola took aspects of these experiences to weave together a fiction which moves between the Victorian life of the hospital, the 1970’s and the present day.

At the launch, Nicola will talk more about her approach to the commission and how the story took shape.

She will also be in conversation with artist, Claire Barclay, and discuss Claire’s new work, ‘Another Kind of Balance’, and Nicola’s role in contextualising the approach.

Claire’s work involved her in researching  the history of the therapeutic environment and forming close working relationships with three people who had at some point received care within the Hospital.

The launch will take place in the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery where the EVER / PRESENT / PAST exhibition continues till 15th of February 2014.

Notes to editors

  •  Nicola White grew up in Dublin and New York and worked in Glasgow as a contemporary art curator and as a television and radio producer. She now writes full-time. Her first novel, ‘In the Rosary Garden’ won the 2013 Dundee International Book Prize. A copy of the book can be found here:
  • Artlink is an arts and disability organisation established in 1984. Artlink believes participation in the arts has an important role to play in realising personal and social change. Our aim is to increase opportunities to take part in the arts for those who experience disadvantage or disability in the East of Scotland. We offer practical support so people can get involved and work with venues to increase opportunities to enjoy the arts. Artlink establishes partnerships with artists, venues and organisations to help encourage positive change. The individual is central to all our work, they inform what we do and how we do it | To take a quick look at the publication, go to
  • For more information/images or to arrange an interview please contact Alison Stirling, projects director, Artlink 0131 229 3555
  • Lothian Health Services Archive is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections. LHSA holds the historically important local records of NHS hospitals and other health-related material from 1594 to the present day. It collects, preserves and catalogues these records and promotes them to increase understanding of the history of health and for the benefit of all. LHSA is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections. | | | Tel: +44 (0)131 650 3392

  • NHS Lothian is also celebrating the REH bi centenary. For more details please visit:

  • Since its foundation in 1975, Talbot Rice Gallery has made a commitment to showing work by Scottish and International artists and has a pursued a policy of excellence in exhibitions and audience development. As part of The University of Edinburgh, one of the world’s top universities, Talbot Rice Gallery is an influential player in the cultural landscape of Scotland and has a growing international reputation.
  • The books which retail for £2 are for sale online and stocked by a range of independent Edinburgh bookshops.

PRESS RELEASE issued by Artlink. You too can post your story ideas for journalists (aka press or media releases), on Email for more information.

Contact: Vanessa Cameron
Phone: 0131 229 3555