Two young artists and designers have been selected for special mentoring, a £1,000 bursary plus the chance to take part in Spring Fling.
The Emerge Young Artists Bursary Scheme is run by Upland CIC, which supports visual artists, makers and designers across Dumfries and Galloway. It matches talented young people with established artists and makers who can offer guidance and support to develop the skills they need to build successful careers. The cash allows them to create new work.
Having an automatic place in Spring Fling, which is run by Upland, means they can present their work to thousands of visitors as part of Scotland’s premier open studios visual art and craft open weekend.
This year the bursaries have been awarded to Rosie Reid, a textile designer from Kirkcudbright, and Luke Fitch, a painter based in Corsock.
Rosie will be mentored by international textile artist and designer Morag Macpherson from Kirkcudbright. Luke has been matched with Katharine Wheeler, a visual artist from Moniaive who also sits on the curatorial team at The Stove Network in Dumfries.
Rosie, who trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, is hoping to create a new range of childrenswear and blankets. She said: “One idea I have is for a series of designs based on an A-Z of fruit and veg which would be bold, bright and colourful.
“I already do a lot of prints, notepads and stationery and have been learning to create baby blankets but I would love to learn more about clothes.
“Having the chance to work with someone like Morag is wonderful because she has so much knowledge and experience. It will be great to have someone there who can teach me about building a business and who I can bounce ideas off.”
A key challenge for young people hoping for careers in creative industries can be making the transition from student to professional – especially in sectors where most people are self-employed.
Morag said: “Rosie is very talented and already highly accomplished. One of the things I’ll be helping her with is taking her designs and turning them into finished products.
“Mentorships like this can be extremely valuable as there are a lot of challenges in building a career in textile design, especially in a rural area like this. Dumfries and Galloway is great for the creative part because of its quiet and its natural beauty feeds into your work. But the population is small so developing a customer base for a sustainable business means a lot of travel and really getting out there and presenting your work.
“It’s good to have schemes like this to help bring on a new generation of talent – Scotland really needs effective mechanisms to help young people develop the skills they need to run their own businesses.”
The scheme is now in its fifth year and is supported by the Holywood Trust and Creative Scotland. Successful applicants receive 15 to 20 days of mentorship, over nine months, which is geared to their specific needs.
With Luke one of the emphases will be on making a transition to working with acrylic paints to oils.
Katharine said: “Luke is fantastic, we really hit it off. There are a lot of parallels in our work, we like to use colour in similar ways and are inspired by some of the same artists.
“I love working with oils and will really enjoy supporting Luke in this exploration as well as some other developmental techniques.
“Mentorships like this are enormously valuable as they provide an opportunity to learn and gain new perspectives. They are also excellent opportunities for networking, being introduced to people and learning how to present your work.”
Luke took an art foundation course but studied English literature at university – realising after coming to join his family in Dumfries and Galloway that what he really wanted to do in life was paint.
He said: “Art has always been there in the background, but it’s only recently that I realised that it’s what I want to do for a living. That realization was partly helped by coming here and finding such a welcoming and supportive artistic community.
“A mentorship is especially useful to someone like me because there is so much I want to learn – and working with Katharine will be superb. I went to one of her classes after I came to the area and really admired her work.
“The bursary is tremendously useful to me because it’s allowing me to pay rent on a studio and start up a website to get my work seen. And the chance to be part of something as big as Spring Fling is just brilliant.