Artwork showcases Galloway traditions

One of Scotland’s last makers of traditional clogs taught the art of making shoes by hand at Broughton House, Kirkcudbright last weekend as part of Spring Fling.

Right up until the 1950s clogs, and clog boots, were common in Dumfries and Galloway, and the region even used to export them to Lancashire.

Godfrey Smith is the last keeper of this long tradition in the region, and even has a museum of clogs from around the world at his workshop in Balmaclellan, Castle Douglas.

A maker of all kinds of hand-made shoes, he still has orders for around half a dozen pairs of traditional lace-up clogs and clog boots (as opposed to the slip on Dutch variety) each year. As part of Spring Fling’s Modern Heritage Craft Project, Godfrey and furniture designer Ian Cameron-Smith have been passing on some of their skills so they are safe for another generation.

Godfrey said: “People really appreciate the fact that someone is still making clogs. I get orders for around six pairs a year, and a lot of older people love coming in and seeing all the old pictures and exhibits in my museum.”

Also as part of Spring Fling, visitors and residents in Wigtown were given another chance to admire artist Astrid Jaekel’s paper cut-outs in the windows of Wigtown County Buildings showing scenes from local life and also included quotes she recorded from local people about the town.

She has been so captivated by the people and culture of Scotland’s Book Town that she is planning a book of her own, full of delicate papercut images and snippets of conversation.

She said: “This is a very special place. You come here and find yourself relaxing and everywhere else floats away. And you meet such an incredible variety of people because it is the Book Town, some are rooted here and then there are all sorts of other, often very creative people, coming in.

“I have loved doing this project and would like to extend it and create a book all about Wigtown and what life here is like.

“When I started the residency I had never been to Wigtown, so I was fascinated to interview people about what they thought about the place. They told me about how it had been through very hard times, but some feel it’s on the way back up, partly due to the book festival.”

Spring Fling showcased artists across the region from May 24-26.