Our Projects

The Barn creates and supports a range of art projects that connect us to environmental awareness and opens up new ways of learning about the earth we inhabit.

Some of our projects are outlined below.

Newton Harrison’s The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland

Newton Harrison’s The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland project provides an ecological vision for how Scotland could become the first industrialised nation to give back more to the life web than it consumes. The vision draws out the importance of five commons: soil, forestry, water, air and importantly the commons of mind, meaning how we as a human population might reach agreement about principles for putting the health of ecosystems first. It therefore offers a holistic vision and framework to draw together different stakeholders including artists, scientists and citizens to explore the importance of soil the natural environment for mitigation and adaptation to collectively address the challenges we face.

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Newton Harrison: The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland.

The Far Orchard

In 2022 we introduced The Far Orchard - an imaginative participatory arts project that will develop over many years, building a community based around living systems in a deep and evolving way.

The Far Orchard is a rethinking of the traditional apple orchard where all trees grow together on single area of land. The Far Orchard aims to create an apple orchard which distributed 100 trees across Banchory with individual trees being ‘hosted’ (offered a home) in private gardens, schools, care homes and other places such as allotments. Each tree will be cared for by an individual or family and this community of ‘hosts’ will form the backbone of the project.

This has contributed to disabling barriers to transitioning to giving back to the life web more than we take and giving voices to those who go unheard in the community.

The Far Orchard subtly highlights and echoes the informal networks of care and kindness that have grown up around us and thrived during the last two years. It is a live project that continues to explore how important and life affirming these connections have been, creating a space to think more deeply about how they may be developed and extended, nurtured and made sustainable into the future.

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The Far Orchard

Plenty? A Festival Exploring More and Less

Under the umbrella of The Far Orchard project is Plenty? A Festival Exploring More and Less. Plenty? is not just about having a lot - it’s understanding when we have enough and feeling satisfied with that. And when we have an abundance like an apple harvest, what to do with it - because sharing might become the most important word in our futures. Plenty? festival aims to bring people and communities together to create an abundance of joy, well-being and sharing of collective experiences. It is a space for showing how creativity can be used to explore the world around us and a chance to be part of a catalyst for how we build a more liveable future that will last for generations.

Read more about Plenty? festival 2023 here

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Growing Together Day

Also sitting under the umbrella of The Far Orchard project, is our Growing  Together Day event at the Barn, where everyone is invited to come together and share.  

In partnership with Gray’s School of Art Mobile Art School, One Seed Forward and DeesideCAN, we create an interactive event which explores the intricate patterns and designs in the natural world around us and feeds both creativity, AND the earth.

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Growing Together Day

Becoming Earthly

Our Becoming Earthly project reflects a need to develop a shift in perspective towards care for the thin skin of the earth that is the atmosphere and topsoil on which all life depends.

Becoming Earthly was conceived as a process of thinking through doing, informed by many years of hands-on interventions at the Barn. The process is in itself ecological rather than outcome driven.

Becoming Earthly resulted in many projects for which more details can be seen here.

Becoming Earthly featured in Ecologies of Studies. A book of Secrets published by Omnia Studia Sunt Communia as part of the After Progress exhibition (2021) Goldsmiths University of London.

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Becoming Earthly

Marie Antoinette

In 2020 with the on-going restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to affect how we live and work day to day, we used this time to work with artists MARIE ANTOINETTE, an artist duo from Portugal, to transform and open up new opportunities for connection with our audience. They spent 2020 collaborating with the Barn (staff and Board members, volunteers and audiences) on a special project called Riffing the Archive: Building A Relation. From a distance they have looked into our past work by collecting different experiences in the form of short videos, stories, photographs and conversations thus exploring communication and connection as a new way of being creative together.

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Marie Antoinette


Phosphorescence was a weekend of dance in partnership with DanceLive, Aberdeen in 2021.

We invited dance artists Luke Pell and Lucy Cash (Phos) to curate Phosphorescence; a weekend of creative encounters including dance, talks, films and sensory workshops. Phosphorescence brings together a collection of artists working with innovative and engaging forms to shine a light on ways in which we can tune in to what matters now in the places and conditions we find ourselves in. It presents dance alongside other art forms to reveal the rhythms, patterns and sensations that movement invites us to feel.

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Following their participation in our artist development programme Becoming Earthly in 2020, artist duo Lucy Cash & Luke Pell, Phos, began thinking about touch, and what it is to touch and be touched in the current (Covid-19) version of the world we found ourselves in.

They hosted a series of workshop encounters with our volunteers during the pandemic and traces of those meetings are gathered together to touch. The Barn’s gallery becoming a lyric essay; a space to move with a playful and gently provocative assemblage of words, images and ideas.

During the programme the artists delved deep and came up with as many new questions as answers. These spilled into a participatory project exploring acts of turning out and tuning in with a very wonderful group of Barn volunteers.

Turning Out, Tuning In invited participants to reflect on roles of caregiving and attention and to contribute to poetic and choreographic score-ing.

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Gettin's House

Gettin’s House was a vibrant and immersive onsite installation and series of digital works created by Bajan British artist Christina Peake in 2021. Responding to the particular culture and nature of North-East Scotland, Christina playfully intersects her learning with stories from her own imagination and wider themes of Caribbean and Scottish diaspora. Combining environmental awareness, individual testimony and cultural narratives in a vivid and playful way, Gettin’s House is a richly-layered project and was the first presentation of Christina Peake’s work in Scotland.

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Gettin's House

John Newling

After having visited Aberdeenshire and the Barn for the first time in 2013, John Newling returned for an artist's residency that started in 2016.

During that time, Newling had been writing short letters to Nature. The ‘Dear Nature’ letters are reflections and questions about the state of Newling’s relationship with Nature. Can one partner really make amends for such unreasonable behaviour? Can an irretrievable breakdown be avoided? What is the postal address for Nature anyway?

The Barn’s work with John Newling featured in the following publications:

John Newling and John Casciani (Eds), 2020. Ecology Works. Nottingham: Beam Editions

(This includes an essay by Anne Douglas and Mark Hope. Art in Co-relationship with Nature. pp115-120).

John Newling 2015 The Last Islands Banchory: Woodend Publishing.

(This includes an essay by Mark Hope and Anne Douglas Making Maps and Exploring Territory pp 55-59)

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John Newling

|MATTER| Earth, Materials + Making

In Autumn 2022 we hosted the exhibition |MATTER| Earth, Materials + Making.

Created by members of Applied Arts Scotland in collaboration with the Barn, this exhibition explored environmental wellbeing through making; drawing on craft practices that value and respect natural resources, waste materials, biodiversity and production systems.

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|MATTER| Earth, Materials + Making

Art by Post

The Southbank Centre, London developed Art by Post during the Covid-19 lockdown to engage those most isolated by social distancing measures, with a particular emphasis on reaching older adults living with dementia and other chronic health conditions. Art by Post was very simple: participants received free creative booklets through their letterbox or via email every four weeks. The booklets, created in collaboration with artists, spark the imagination and help participants stay connected to others via the growing Art by Post community.

As a project delivery partner, the Barn distributed booklets to a variety of North-East organisations such as Ace Voices, Grampian Hospital Art Trust (GHAT), Grampian Regional Equalities Council (GREC), Art with Life and the North-East Macular Society. As well as members of our long standing 50+ Third Stage Art group.

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Art By Post cover image


Hemp has been a traditional part of Scotland’s industry and is suited to both the climate and the growing conditions in the main agronomic areas, especially parts of the Borders, East Lothian, Fife, Angus, Moray and the Black Isle. Apart from financial benefits directly for farmers and producers, hemp also brings environmental advantages due to its capacity for carbon sequestration, contributing to a greater biodiversity, land recovery and remediation. This project looked at how hemp could play a role in the development and expansion of a low carbon, environmentally responsible industry, bringing a new ‘cash-crop’ to Scottish agriculture and offering new job opportunities across the supply chain.

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Hemp Logo

PHD Research

The Barn has supported PHD research which has led to long, sustained relationships with artists helping the organisation to develop and lead the conversation around possibilities for the arts in rural environments.

PhDs in which the Barn was a collaborative organisation:

Helen Smith 2015 Artist as Navigator: Understanding how the social qualities of art influence organisational change (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award) in partnership with Robert Gordon University's Grays School of Art

Maja Zeco 2019 Placing Sound: A Contextual Exploration of Personal Identities in Sound Art Discourse Through Performance Art Practice (Applied Research Collaborative Studentship, Scottish Graduate School) in partnership with Robert Gordon University's Grays School of Art and Aberdeen University's Music School

In 2012-13 The Barn was a partner in Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter AHRC Connected Communities, led by Dr Johan Siebers, Middlesex University, in particular through Sounding Drawing 2012.