“It's a bit of a funny one, isn't it,” says artist Rowan Paton when discussing the fact that she met Alan Grieve, the artist with whom she is exhibiting at Tent Gallery in Edinburgh this week on Instagram. “There's so much nonsense and rubbish you have to sift through, then these wonderful gems!” But Paton instantly recognised that Alan Grieve's work, which shared her own interest in landscape and humour, was a “gem”. But the odd thing was she says, she suddenly realised she already knew him. “He was in the year below me at Edinburgh College of Art!” Real world meetings ensued, their artistic connection cemented. “And then this Tent Gallery opening came up, and we decided to go for it.”

“We both collect images,” says Paton, choked up with the flu (“Terrible timing!”) two days before she is due to install their exhibition, Lost All Reason and Direction, in the small white space that is the University's exhibition space for former graduates and international artists. “Alan documents his surroundings very efficiently.” Paton delights in Grieve's humour, which is never afraid to take a smutty turn, which comes out in his annotated sketches and diagrams. Her own process of collecting images and words is very different, she says. “I'm not documenting. I'm trying to create a little escape pod for myself.”

Some ten years ago, after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art and securing a two year Masters at Yale University in the USA, Paton returned home to find herself “emotional tumbleweed”. “I was in an oppressive rut where I couldn't make work.” Some years later, she realised it was depression, “I started taking the pills and it was amazing. I realised, yes! You can cope!” When her baby was born five years ago, it gave her another catalyst – as babies tend to do - to start making work every available day that she could.

Paton's brightly coloured paintings are mountains, at heart, she says, for she has always been fascinated by their presence since holidaying with her grandparents on Arran as a child. “It really stuck in my psyche.” Much of her work begins with found images or her own mountain photos, deconstructed until almost unrecognisable, then embellished brightly with paint, with life, with daubs of humour.

Alan Grieve's “mountain” is the Hill of Beath, the landmark at the end of his road in Dunfermline. The artist, whose work for Lost all Reason and Direction is a documenting of sorts of his walk from his house to the top of the hill, is “a bit like psychogeography, but more mundane,” he jokes, from drug dealers leaving their stash in the rabbit warrens on the hill to snippets of overheard conversation and local myth.

He's in the job for it, he tells me. By day, Grieve is a hairdresser in Workspace, a salon he set up eight years ago with his friend Emma Thomson, in Wellwood just outside Dunfermline, “the classic vacuum where nothing is really going on”, he says, cheerfully. He mingles art and haircutting, village life and artistic creation. “I set up the salon with my friend Emma. We made all the fittings portable, even the sinks, so we could clear it all away to use for art exhibitions at night.” Grieve's work is a dynamic part of local village life – his clients sometimes come along to help with setting up exhibitions. “and another good thing about being a hairdresser is the stories!” he says. It led to his first project for the National Theatre of Scotland a few years ago, in which he gave people free haircuts in return for a story and a piece of music.

“I just take all my inspiration from Dunfermline, what's around me,” he says. “Like George Mackay Brown, only he was better at it,” he laughs. He is bringing his many sketchbooks to Tent, keen to engage all-comers, not least current art students who might be more inclined to use a laptop than the creative possibilities of the sketchbook. On the glass panel wall at the back of the space, and the window, he will recreate his journey up the hill he tells me. There are wooden sculptural pieces too. With only two days to go til the opening night, there is much to do. But he's looking forward to it, to seeing heads buried in sketchbooks, to welcoming people in. And it might be a bit of a squeeze. There's packed-out 50-seater bus coming from Dunfermline, full of “locals and customers,” says Grieve. “All in all, it's quite satisfying.”

ROWAN PATON AND ALAN GRIEVE, Lost All Reason and Direction, Tent Gallery, Ground Floor, Evolution House, 78 West Port, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, 0131 650 1000, www.ed.ac.uk 19 - 26 Jan, Daily 10am - 4pm

Don't Miss

Last chance to catch Emma Hart's exhibition at the Fruitmarket before it closes in early February. Supersized jug-pot heads, tessellated windscreens and an ominous ceiling fan made out of cutlery are all part and parcel of the work of this sometime photographer, now sculptor, whose striking, thought-provoking and frequently witty ceramics won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2016. View the prize work here, alongside new work made especially for the Fruitmarket in Hart's first Scottish show.

Emma Hart: BANGER, Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, Edinburgh, 0131 225 2383,www.fruitmarket.co.ukUntil 3 Feb 2019, Mon - Sun, 11am - 6pm

Critic's Choice

Ice cream vans, birdsong, rainfall and traffic - the sounds of Wester Hailes in south west Edinburgh are brought to distinctive life through the creative collaboration of local residents, composers and an artist in this new installation by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Fresh from its installation at the Royal Scottish Academy as part of the Scottish Society of Artists Annual Exhibition, it moves to Whale Arts in Wester Hailes then the Fruitmarket in central Edinburgh, a culmination of many months' work by a diverse range of local people, all of whom responded to a call from the SCO, currently midway through a three year Wester Hailes residency, to make an audio visual exploration of their local area.

“We didn't know who was going to come or what the interest might be,” says Kirsteen Davidson-Kelly, Creative Learning Director at the SCO, who was delighted at the response. The group ranged from newcomers to people who had lived in the area for 50 years. Composer and artistic collaborator Emma Smith ran workshops for participants alongside composer Suzanne Parry, which ranged from humming and singing to percussion work and sharing stories. SCO musicians came in to work with the group, then everyone decamped uptown for the Tacita Dean exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery last September and the SCOs season opener at the Usher Hall. Creative possibilities were explored.

“The main thing that happened was that a large sheet of paper was put up on the wall of the workshop space with a 24 hour timeline,” says Davidson-Kelly. “Each person was represented and over the weeks a picture of the sounds and images that people were noticing around Wester Hailes were put in.” It looked, says Davidson-Kelly, rather like a huge graphic score.

And indeed, that is what has resulted, the sounds of Wester Hailes reimagined by the residents, Parry, Smith, and artist Ewan John into a film installation, surrounded by photographs and soundboxes which play miniatures from the score. This year, Davidson-Kelly hopes to widen the group still further, to include more of Wester Hailes' newcomers.

Incredible Distance, WHALE Arts, 30 Westburn Grove, Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, 0131 458 3267, www.whalearts.co.uk 22 Jan– 9 Feb, and the Fruitmarket Gallery, Market Street, Edinburgh, 0131 225 2383, www.fruitmarket.co.uk during the Connecting Communities Exhibition, 12 Feb – 16 Feb