Dovecot Studio. A world-renowned tapestry studio and centre for art, craft and design located in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Dovecot is both studio and gallery, with a lively programme of exhibitions and events.

The studio and gallery are supported by the Dovecot Foundation who seek to, ‘ bring the innovative work of contemporary artists and makers to a wider audience’. In other words, this is a welcoming space for anyone with an interest in textiles, tapestry and creativity.

Creating that welcoming space looks a bit like this…

The Dovecot Studios & Gallery

The Dovecot gallery spaces are used to showcase a variety of art, design and textile exhibitions. When I say variety, I’m not kidding. Exhibition inspiration ranges from the Italian Renaissance to modern day knitwear.

Visitors aren’t just invited to view, they are also encourage to participate and create. The Dovecot studios offer a range of courses and workshops.

Some, like the Tapestry Weaving Experience Day, are inspired by the Dovecot heritage. Other sessions and events are inspired by the exhibitions or textile trends from around the globe. Think William Morris inspired embroidery classes and Katazome textile workshops.

The classes and exhibitions do change regularly, if you’re planning a visit to Edinburgh I’d recommend keeping an eye on the Dovecot Studios website to see what’s on.

Dovecot Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony

Due to the design of the building- more on that in a minute- it is possible to walk around an elevated viewing gallery and look down on the workshop floor below. Fascinating to see the equipment used and the artists at work and the birds eye view literally gives a whole new perspective. Brilliant.

The viewing gallery isn’t always available. Current opening times are Mon-Fri 12-3pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.

Dovecot Studios Café

I love a good cafe, and Dovecote delivered. The menu is packed with healthy options and has an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, but also has a dash of indulgence in the form of pastries and cakes. Rich Sticky Chocolate Brownie or Buttery Shortbread, anyone?

Image courtesy of Dovecot Studios

All Housed In…

A building that dates back to the 1800’s and was home to Edinburgh’s first ever public baths.

The Infirmary Street Baths were opened in 1887 following the passing of the Baths and Washhouses Act. A growing urban population, living and working in less than sanitary conditions without access to private facilities, made public baths an essential service.

As time passed, the need for public bathing facilities dropped and the emphasis moved onto recreational swimming. The Old Town Pool, which sits under a Victorian vaulted ceiling, is now the weaving floor.

Things Helen Loves, former public baths now converted to an exhibition space and workshop
Former site of the main swimming pool, now home to a tapestry workshop.

The building survived a fire in the 1950’s, with the pool remaining in use until the 1990’s. Following closure, the building was at risk of being lost. The Dovecot Foundation funded the restoration of the baths and in 2008 they began a new life as the Dovecot Studios.

Much of the fabric of the old place has been retained, including the ladies baths and the swimming pool. A section of original tiling has been preserved and former swimmers are invited to leave their thoughts and recollections. A nice touch.

Things Helen Loves, Blue Post=It notes on a white tiled background

Find the Dovecot Studio & Gallery at 10 Infirmary St, EH1 1LT. Opening hours and exhibitions vary, check the website for up-to-date details. Cafe is open Mon-Sat, 9.30am – 4.30pm.

This post was originally published in 2019. Added to, edited and updated for reposting in 2022.

Helen x

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