NHS Lothian Charity’s programmes, Tonic Arts and Green Health, in partnership with Stills Gallery, are proud to present ‘Havens’ – a series of portraits and stories documenting the work-life experiences of NHS Lothian staff. 

More specifically – uncovering the places where they find time for quiet within their hectic work life. Award-winning photographers Craig Easton and Lottie Davies were awarded the opportunity to undertake this creative residency. Over the past year, they have interviewed and photographed over 75 NHS Lothian staff members holding a variety of posts across a wide range of NHS Lothian sites.  The artists also held photography and creative writing workshops for staff to encourage the use of creativity as an outlet.

The result of their year of working within the hospitals will be a collection of portraits & stories that will be displayed at various NHS Lothian sites and at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh’s City Centre in the summer of 2024 (details TBC). At the end of the project, all of the portraits and stories will be viewable via the NHS Lothian Charity website.

Havens, the Story so Far

An interim exhibition of the Haven’s project so far has been touring NHS Lothian sites. Visit our what’s on section for details of where the current exhibition is being displayed.

Example artworks

Umar - a contributor to the Havens project
Umar Doctor, Orthopedic Trauma, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Haven: First floor corridor, RIE

Every day is a frantic day and every day is a demanding day, you just have to come up with your own systems of managing it…’I’m going to walk to the coffee shop, grab a coffee and come back’. It’s not for the coffee. The coffee in the hospital’s horrible. But it’s just to get away. It can get testing at times and you need a place to hide. At the same time, where do you hide?…You just walk to the other end of the hospital and back.”

Susan - a contributor to the Havens project
Susan Medical Secretary, Western General Hospital Haven: Amanda’s Garden, WGH

Even when it’s cold in the winter, I make sure I’m wrapped up in my coat and got my gloves on. There used to be a wee robin that I’d fed who seems to have disappeared. But I have my wee bag of mealworms for if it appears. It used to come up here; it would sometimes sit alongside me but see, I don’t know if it’s the same one or if there’s a whole troupe of robins that see this gullible person and their bag of meal worms…”

Sharon - a contributor to the Havens project
Sharon Domestic Worker, Royal Edinburgh Hospital Haven: The Orchard, REH

I love being outside. You see the deer coming past. There’s squirrels, sometimes there’s a couple of ducks that come in, rabbits…It’s just quiet, and when you’ve been in a busy ward, sometimes it’s nice just to come outside and take five minutes to yourself…If you come out here, you feel like you’ve actually had a break.”

Linda - a contributor to the Havens project
Linda Linen Supervisor, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Haven: Linen Room, RIE

…I actually run the Royal Infirmary and the Sick Kids in Edinburgh. Because we’re in the basement and there’s no windows or anything like that, every now and again I’ll mebbe say we’ll go up for five minutes and walk frae one end of the hospital to another…When breaktime comes, usually lunchtime, we go outside and have our lunch…”

Jamie - a contributor to the Havens project
Jamie Senior Charge Nurse, Royal Edinburgh Hospital Haven: Toilet Cubicle, REH

I’m a slave to my mobile phone…At any given time, I can be juggling two or three phone calls. It can be relentless at times. I do find that I feel it’s legitimate not to answer the phone when I’m sitting on the loo. It’s somewhere I can physically shut the door – they tend to be quiet spaces… A closeable, lockable door, where it’s quiet.”

Gemma - a contributor to the Havens project
Gemma Clinical Support Worker, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Haven: River, Wellbeing Walk, RIE

The noise of the water’s quite relaxing. You get away from all the beeping, the hustle and bustle. I call it the hospital choir; because every beeps or something makes a noise or it hums…I just come out the hospital, sit outside next to the river. It’s nice to get fresh air when you’ve been inside for so many hours.”

The artists

Craig Easton is a Scottish photographer whose work is deeply rooted in the documentary tradition. He shoots long-term projects exploring issues around social policy, identity and a sense of place. His work mixes portraiture, landscape and reportage approaches to storytelling, in a research[1]based practice that weaves a narrative between contemporary experience and history. In April 2021, he was awarded the prestigious title of Photographer of the Year at the SONY World Photography Awards for his series Bank Top.

Lottie Davies is an artist, writer and educator based in Cornwall and London. Her practice employs moving image, audio, text and interactive installation alongside large format photographs. This mixed media approach was crystallized in her seven-year project Quinn which was widely exhibited across the UK and published in a limited-edition monograph in 2021.

Find out more about how our Tonic Arts Participation Programme brings the transformative power of the arts to patients, caregivers and staff in healthcare settings across NHS Lothian.