Category Archives: Edinburgh

The Project

This is a project that began on July 16th, 2009, as I drove through Nebraska during that hot summer’s day.  This is an honest account of the life of this project, from beginning to end, not just an overview of the great and wonderful things that have happened along the way.  This is the truth, in all of it’s ugliness and beauty.  Because life is not a beautiful struggle.  It is ridiculous and complicated and wonderful and amazing and disappointing and glorious.

The official blurb goes a little something like this:

“Why did we come here?”

This question was the catalyst that began a two-year journey of discovery to uncover the story behind the 200-year journey that artist Cassandra Harrison’s family made from England to America and back again.

Following the notes and photos left behind by her late grandfather (a former FBI agent), Cassandra set out to re-tell the story of her ancestors’ migration from Ivybridge to Exeter to Dudley, then on to Nebraska, following their emigration to America in 1868.  Her strand of the story brings the connecting thread back to England, in Newcastle, 2009.

The Connecting Thread uses hand-printed textile images, bedsheets and pillowcases to create a living, tactile timeline.  The exhibition is about realizing how decisions made hundreds of years ago affect who we are and where we are today.  It’s about discovering another layer to our identity, appreciating the paths travelled by the people preceding us and giving life to the names on a family tree.

To see photographs of works in progress and completed artwork, please visit the Flickr page.

About the Artist:

Cassandra Harrison trained in Nebraska, graduating with honours in Fine Art and Art Education.  In 2002, she moved to England where she continued her work as an artist, creating works for commission for private collectors, a children’s book author and a solicitors partnership.  Harrison’s work has been exhibited throughout the country and was recently on exhibit in the Visual Arts Scotland Annual Open Exhibition at The Royal Scottish Academy Upper Galleries, Edinburgh.  This is her first solo exhibition.


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Filed under a good story, Dudley, Edinburgh, Exeter/Ivybridge, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne, research, the process

Final installation of The Connecting Thread

Can you believe that the final (ehem…so far….there are plans) installation of The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography is happening so soon?! After two years of planning and creating, it is time to string it up in the last venue, the last leg of the international tour.

Oct 2
5 – 7pm
Reception in the foyer of the Bioscience Centre (easily located off of Times Square)
There will be wine and me smiling insanely as I will be very pleased to see you there. It would be lovely if you could come along and celebrate this adventure with me.

Exhibition opening times:

Oct 3 – Dec 2

Monday – Thursday
8am – 6pm

8am – 5pm

I will be conducting collaborative Gocco workshops and a walk through of the exhibition on October 27th and 28th. Those specific times will be listed here closer to the days.

What is The Connecting Thread?

The Connecting Thread uses hand-printed textile images, bedsheets and pillowcases to create a living, tactile timeline. The exhibition is about realizing how decisions made hundreds of years ago affect who we are and where we are today. It’s about discovering another layer to our identity, appreciating the paths travelled by the people preceding us and giving life to the names on a family tree.


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Filed under a good story, Dudley, Edinburgh, Exeter/Ivybridge, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne, the process


Spinning plates on sticks.  Who was the person that thought of this as a form of entertainment?  How does that thought even begin?  I wonder what would happen if…?  First there was the one plate, gyrating on the tip top of the pole. I just love the thought that thinks the one isn’t enough.

This month has been a month of trying to keep several plates balanced and spinning, desperately trying to make them whirl whirl whirl and me running like a crazy person between them all.

I nearly let the Connecting Thread plate slip.  It was just whirling away quite nicely and I took my eyes off of it for too long.  There is one last leg of the trip and I am leaving it to rather late in the day to promote it.  So, promote I shall with Twitterings, Facebooks and Blogtasticness galore.  There are invites to send and press releases to release.  This is the finale – the final show for this year and it would be such a shame if I let it all end with a small whisper.  Or a sound as insignificant as papers shuffling.  Or an exhale.

I am also working on creating more artworks for shops, contacting shops and hoping to have a presence in all the major areas of Edinburgh.  The Edinburgh Skylines are selling very nicely in the Grassmarket (Hannah Zakari) and on Broughton Street (Curiouser and Curiouser).  I am now targeting New Town and Stockbridge.  Spin.  Spin.  Spin.

Then of course there is navigating the foreign landscape of being a unit of 1 instead of a unit of 2.  The plate is wobbling all over the place and to be honest, I have dropped that sucker, taped it together, dropped it again, glued the pieces into one, gave it another whirl and now seem to be fumbling along in a very tired, exhausted and haggard kind of way.



Filed under Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne, struggling here, the process

Northumberland Street. Sorry. But I just can’t.

I have had to make a difficult decision.  Well, I have had to make several difficult decisions lately, but the one I’m talking about now is the decision about Northumberland Street in Newcastle.

Unfortunately, I do not  think that displaying the work in that fabulous venue is going to work out for me.  Or it.  Or the artwork.  I find this very disheartening as that space was the first space I had secured almost two years ago to the day.  I remember feeling nervous about meeting the city centre manager.  My photoshop image of how I imagined the artwork to turn out, my notes, my nice dress and matching shoes, my big eager grin all in place and ready to face the man behind the email address.  He was lovely and encouraging as well as forgiving of my opening sentences that made little sense.

It is with heavy heart that I have to admit that I just do not think the work should be displayed in that area.  The decision is mostly based on the fact that the artwork is fraying at an alarming rate.  The raw edges are unraveling, which was what needed to happen but not as much as this.  My fear is that if the sheets are flapping away in the wind, the work will become torn, seams will split apart and I will look at it feeling a bit sick and horrified that I didn’t protect it.

There is also the issue of volunteers and the difficulty in finding them.  Although I have met some astounding, wonderful, generous, helpful, delightful people on this adventure, I do find that it’s been a bit of a disappointment on the volunteer side of things.  My two assistants in Dudley were brilliant and Mark was excellent help to me in Exeter.  With that said, I realise that people are stretched in hundreds of directions and I don’t think I could pull together the crew needed to invigilate on the busy pedestrain street of Newcastle.

And so, here we find the artwork with just a week left at Craft House Concept in Edinburgh.  In a couple  of weeks I travel to Newcastle to scope out the last (so far) venue and  make decisions about its display.

This year has been something.  It has been much more than I had previous planned it to be.  It’s nearly wrecked me, actually.

But that is an entirely different story.

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Filed under Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne, struggling here, the process

and then it owned me

I am in a very weird place.  There is a bit of calm happening and I’ve taken this calm space to sit down and consider the project so far and the project in the future.  With Exeter, Dudley and Nebraska behind me, with Edinburgh current then upcoming Newcastle, I am now living in the middle of this huge adventure.  I see what I’ve done.  I see what I’m about to do.  It’s exciting, brilliant and also a little bit sad.  Is Newcastle to be the end?  Hopefully, no.

How did this project begin?  Well, that question has been answered a zillion times, but perhaps I haven’t really addressed why I needed to do this.  After all, we have lots of ideas throughout a day: Maybe I’ll start going to that zumba class, Perhaps I’ll eat fruit more often, Think I’ll get my tyres rotated, Today I will start writing that book, I really ought to start a book/film/knitting/hoovering club.  They flit in.  They flit out.  What is it that makes you grab onto an idea and own it?  What makes you realise that to give it up, to let it slip through your attention span – going hardly noticed – would be a detriment to your life.

When this project came to mind, I was going through a significant transition.  Most of my life has been a significant transition – a transition from the states to Redhill to Crawley to Newcastle to Edinburgh from job to job to job from hoping to start growing a family to realising that’s just not in the cards for me.  Nearly nine years of transition.  All of those times of stopping then starting over with a new plan.

When the idea for this project came to mind, I had to hold onto it and make it happen as there just seemed to be no other option.  It was something I had a certain amount of control over.  If I failed at this, it would be my fault and my fault only.  If I made it happen, then that would be my success.  The project was monumental and I needed to prove to myself that I could at least succeed at this. I may have failed to put down roots or carry a job for more than 2 years, to have children, but this would prove to myself that if I believed in it enough, I could make it happen.  And it’s happened.  It is happening.  And I do feel that I have wrestled this beast to the ground and shown it whose boss.  Life, that is.

What does success for this look like and how do I know I’ve achieved it?  To be honest, if I had only gotten as far as Exeter, I would have felt that this was a success.  I finished the work on time.  I’ve learned things.  My eyes have been wide open and I have met so many interesting people along the way.  My life feels fuller and richer.  Because I took a chance.

Which was scary.

But I did it, anyway.


Filed under a good story, Edinburgh, Exeter/Ivybridge, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne, the process

Craft House Concept preview photos

Tasty cups of wine at the preview

looking slightly insane here

Mary and Rhiannon

Okay, so they are looking slightly entertained. Better that than running for the door.

My lovely assistant Andy

Open the door and there's all the people

window display

I would love to add more photos to this, but for some reason most of my pictures are being very stubborn.  Although I have rotated as necessary, they still insist on laying on their sides.  Sideways Helen.  Sideways Andy.  Sorry guys, I’m not sure what the dealio is.  As for my 20 minute video, YouTube thinks it will take 5 hours to upload.  Five hours?  Who has time to let the computer whirrrrr away in the background, working at an alarmingly slow speed.  I will try to take on patience.  I will win and make it mine.

The preview was lovely!  Wonderful! It was great to see my friends there.  Thank you for the use of your groovy little shoppe, Steph.  Thank you Rhiannon for the beautiful art tour title.  Thank you Gill for your amazing design work on the information cards and also for the crash course in Illustrator. Thank you Russell and Diarmid for your word skillz wizardry.  Thank you Mark for putting up with me whilst I flap around and become a stresshead – I do not deal well under pressure.  Thank you samba bandmates for being fun to play with.  And thank you random strangers for popping in.

I would also like to thank very much Craft Scotland for adding my exhibition to their homepage.  What an honour. (You can see it at

I am a very lucky girl.

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Filed under Edinburgh

Jump to August and the low down at Craft House Concept

like stained glass

Although I have yet to pack my bags for the states, I am needing to tie up some plans for when I return to Edinburgh.  This will be a ‘hit the ground’ running scenario that I need to prepare for.

Part of the artwork will be displayed at Craft House Concept, Minto Street, Edinburgh from the 4th of August to the 4th of September.  There will be a preview show on the 4th of August, 5pm – 9pm.  At around 6:30 I will give a quick little talk about the project, the work and the travels so far.  Don’t worry, the talk with be short and hopefully pain-free for us all.  What you can expect is my face turning a shocking shade of red the minute I open my mouth (this has plagued me since I was wee) as well as wine, wine and wine.  I know there are lots of things to see and do during the festival.  Why not start your evening with a brisk walk down the road to Craft House Concept, take in some wine, gossip and art ogling, then leisurely stagger back into town just in time for the first comedy event of the evening, whatever that may be.

There will also be Edinburgh Skyline artworks on sale at CHC as well as Hannah Zakari.  I’ve created a new linear skyline print and have been pleased with the results.

Workshop:  Sunday, 14th of Aug, 3 – 5pm.  Ever wanted to try your hand at the thrilling experience that is Gocco printing?  Well, here’s your chance.  We will be making Gocco prints based on the themes of Edinburgh architecture.  You will get a chance to create your own screen (don’t worry, images will already be sourced) and you will also take part in creating a collaborative artwork to be won by one lucky person in the group.  And what’s more, you will leave the workshop with a framed artwork of your very own creation.  All of that fun and an artwork to keep for just £18.  There are only 8 spaces available and pre-booking is a MUST.  To book yourself a space, please email

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Filed under Edinburgh