Artists and visitors’ delight at Spring Fling’s 15th birthday

Joanna Macaulay and Councillor  Adam Wilson at Spring Fling 2017 Edge, Carrick Foreshore, Knockbrex.
Joanna Macaulay and Councillor Adam Wilson at Spring Fling 2017 Edge, Carrick Foreshore, Knockbrex.

The 15th anniversary Spring Fling saw thousands of visitors flock to studios across Dumfries and Galloway.

Among the most eye-catching contributions to Scotland’s premier open studios visual arts and craft event was EDGE – a public artwork in a quiet cove near Knockbrex that created a “phantom tideline” of items washed up by the sea.

A total of 93 painters, printmakers, woodworkers, ceramicists, photographers, jewellery makers welcomed the public through their doors over the bank holiday weekends.

The venues were as diverse as the artists, including a theatre, a former laundry, a castle, chapels, cottages, farms and a clocktower.

Spring Fling nowadays generates around £1.5m a year for the local economy with around 13,500 people making 40,000 studio visits. This compares to the inaugural event in 2003 when around 1,350 people made 4040 visits to 72 studios, generating £57,600.

EDGE, which included a performance on Carrick Foreshore by Scottish country punk band The Hoolits, on Saturday afternoon, maintained Spring Fling’s tradition of including vibrant public art in the event.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council Events Champion, said: “Spring Fling shows Dumfries and Galloway at its very best – as a place for the arts, somewhere that’s ideal for short breaks, and a region with a warm welcome and tremendous hospitality.

“Exhibits like EDGE, which has brought together artists, musicians and lots of visitors on a scenic beach during brilliant bank holiday weather is a superb example of what Spring Fling offers. It also really underlines what Dumfries and Galloway offers to artists and other creative people and why it is an attractive place to live and work.”

Jo and Robbie had scoured the shorelines of Dumfries and Galloway for small treasures that have been lost, abandoned and thrown away.

EDGE conjured up tales of parted lovers, lost sailors and forgotten voyages. Visitors encountered everything from suitcases (still packed for journeys), a birdcage, brass instruments, a jewellery box, a working phonograph, an astronaut’s helmet and even an old church organ.

Elsewhere Emma Harper MSP visited the Wasps studios at Kirkcudbright, where there were seven participating artists and makers.

She said: “I really enjoy Spring Fling – it’s such a great way to show people some of the amazing artistic talent we have here in south west Scotland.”

All Spring Fling participants are specially selected and include established and emerging artists, and contributors from neighbouring areas.

Among the established favourites is Kay Ribbens, based near Kirkcowan, who is renowned for her beautiful and extraordinary hats.

Mill on the Fleet, at Gatehouse of Fleet, was the base for young Dumfries and Galloway photographer Caroline McQuistin and Gail Kelly, who creates colourful, hand stitched collages of rural scenes and linocut designs printed on Irish linen.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland Arts Development, which runs Spring Fling, said: “It’s been a wonderful 15th birthday weekend for Spring Fling. I’ve been travelling the region meeting artists, makers and visitors and the feedback has been great.

“People love the chance to meet and chat to artists about their work, see some lovely studios and have the chance to enjoy one of Scotland’s most picturesque regions.”

For full details of Spring Fling see the website at www.spring-fling.co.uk.