Kate McDonald, Jeelie Piece

By Eve Marx

Kate McDonald, owner of Jeelie Piece, a creative space and cafe in Edinburgh – in Tollcross too, surrounded by art schools and theatres.

She told us about how she supports local enterprises and makes the most of Edinburgh’s rather special energy.

“What’s fascinating about Edinburgh is its sense of community.”


Eve Marx, Illustrator

How long have you been in Edinburgh?

I’ve been here for seven years, and the café is a year and a half old.

How many artists have you exhibited so far?

Around 15. It’s usually once a month, but sometimes we’ll have a collective.

How do you find them?

Different methods, actually. Sometimes it’s someone that I’ve seen on Instagram, sometimes I’ve seen their work in another gallery.

They’re always somewhat local, most of the time they work in Edinburgh but come from all over the place. The other day we had someone from South Korea who just moved in with her husband for example, I actually knew her work before.

They don’t have to be from Scotland but I do like to support local – local producers, local creatives all the same.

Why Edinburgh?

I like Edinburgh because it’s lovely to live in but actually quite special to work in. You actually don’t get the same people in Edinburgh for a very long time, which can be a bit sad but actually gives it some sort of energy: people are very open to meeting new people and exchanging idea and engaging in new projects.

What’s fascinating about Edinburgh is its sense of community. It is a big city, but manageable, I think it doesn’t swallow you down, there’s really room for individuality.

It’s creative, even outside of the Fringe. They spend quite a lot of energy and passion in trying to keep the energy going for the rest of the year.

If you were to put up together your own show at the Fringe, what would you do?

I actually write plays, so I would be delighted to do something like that. I was hoping to put one together this year but the timing wasn’t good.  But yes, I’ve written quite a few and they’re usually quite political because that’s close to my heart.  I’m always interested in the way you can mix up politics with play and art and tell a story.

This year the Fringe is definitely a bit more like that, because people have a lot to say on the subject, unsurprisingly (laughs)

So you have your space but but have you noticed other people’s initiative that you appreciated? Or is there something you think Edinburgh could do to make things better for creatives especially?

There’s a couple of great things.  I really like what Boom Salon does. Hidden Doors as well, who take buildings and turn them into art. And of course there’s a lot of collectives going around, like the Edinburgh Student Music Movement, a network for under-the-radar student musicians from universities across Edinburgh.

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