Make a picnic blanket for Leith

An array of colourful peppers: CC image by pamsai CC By-SA 2.0

Join the party. Can you help create a Leith picnic blanket specially designed to celebrate the most culturally diverse part of Edinburgh? 

Art student Tracey Exton got in touch with news of her imaginative project for a spring picnic afternoon at The Croft in Leith Links – she’s looking for people to share their stories of Leith, along with favourite foods and recipes.  

Your story will form part of patchwork picnic blanket depicting the rich cultural and social melting pot that makes Leith such a vibrant community.

Tracey Exton

Leith Open Space is delighted to help spread the word. Tracey’s collaborative project strikes so many chords with the aims of our World Kitchen in Leith which launched in Leith in 2009. Like WKiL, Tracey is celebrating community and multicultural diversity through food, and the simple but symbolic fun of eating together.  In this case Tracey is working towards a potluck picnic on Sunday 2 April when the patchwork picnic blanket will be at the centre of a creative community meal.  [See contact details below]

Each Leith community project is unique.  For Tracey – a third year painting student at Edinburgh College of Art – the inspiration was the book Pomegranate Soup

Bridging the divide

“The story is set in the small, insular village of Ballinacroagh, County Mayo,” Tracey explains.  

“Fleeing war-torn Iran, the Aminpour sisters find a safe-haven in a new land. Opening the Babylon Café, they create a Persian oasis with sumptuous scents and of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron. The ‘foreigners’ bring magical colour and flavour to a town more familiar with boiled cabbage and Guinness. Suddenly the villagers are demanding red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava. 

“The book is filled with delicious recipes and takes you on a journey into Persian cooking and Irish living.​” 

This made Tracey consider our personal relationships with food: “how it bridges the divide in a multi-cultural society”. Which brings us back to Leith. “Locals live in coexistence with immigrants in a shared experience through food. Leith is suffused with eateries from around the globe and to this end I want to celebrate the diversity of this special community through food.”

To celebrate diversity through food we are creating a picnic blanket, bringing communities together in a multi-cultural afternoon picnic 

The result is Forms of Sharing – a collaboration with Earth in Common, the Leith Community Croft social enterprise in Leith Links (formerly known as Leith Community Crops in Pots). It’s a perfect site for Tracey’s celebration: a community hub which has turned waste land into a productive garden, ‘working to tackle a broken food system, climate change and social inequality locally, nationally and internationally.’ 

Tracey’s project involves creating a large ‘picnic blanket’ consisting of 32 squares (32 represents the number of teeth in an adult human). “Each square will contain a recipe that represents a Leith resident. The 32 squares will then be stitched together in the form of a picnic blanket representing the patchwork of rich diversity found in Leith.” 

On April 2nd everyone who has contributed a story or recipe will be invited to the Croft to share a potluck picnic and stories of living – and eating – in Leith.  Trying new food, hearing new stories and meeting new people 

“We would like participants to bring along a small plate of food that can be shared by others,” says Tracey. And after the event, she hopes the picnic blanket itself will find a permanent home as an artwork in the local community. 

If you would like to take part, contact Tracey on 07502 400 901 or email

Images: Colourful peppers by pamsai:Creative Commons licence CC By-SA.2.0. Picnic blanket is a screenshot from Tracey’s presentation

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