First Spring Flingers launch programme for 20th year

Artists and makers from the first Spring Fling got together to launch the programme for the 20th annual open studios weekend.

By Brian Yule
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 4:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 6:45 pm
Some of the original artists from the first Spring Fling in 2003 who are taking part in 2022, pictured among the daffodils at Gracefield Arts Centre. Pic: Colin Hattersley Photography

The event, set up in the aftermath of the foot and mouth epidemic, now hopes to make a significant contribution in the drive to rebuild after the pandemic.

Spring Fling, which takes place over The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend from June 2-5, will see 96 participants all across Dumfries and Galloway, throw open their doors.

Sixteen of the 2003 ‘originals’ will be taking part in 2022. Nine of them (plus one of the first organisers) met up at the Gracefield Arts Centre, in Dumfries.

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Hannah McAndrew, of potters Fitch and McAndrew from Corsock, said: I cannot believe I am old enough to have been around for 20 Spring Flings, but it seems I must be.

"It’s rather lovely to have been there at the beginning and to still be making my living making pots all these years later when the event itself is going from strength to strength.

Jo Gallant, a textile artist from Mossdale, said: “I feel very proud to have been involved with Spring Fling since the beginning, though when the idea was first presented I was sceptical, as other open studios events I had tried had not been particularly successful.

"It soon became clear that this was something different and is now a significant event in my work calendar which visitors, both local and from further away, look forward to it each year.”

Adam Booth, architectural metalworker and sculptor from Kirkpatrick Durham, said: “If you consider the population of Dumfries and Galloway and look at the number of high-quality national and international makers and artists living here it is quite remarkable.

“It shows what a vibrant and inclusive region we live in and Spring Fling is a great chance for people to see these threads and celebrate the region as a whole.”

Sheena McMaster, jewellery maker and silversmith from Kirkcudbright: “Having the opportunity from the early days on the Spring Fling to engage and meet clients from all over Scotland has been wonderful.

"For many of us in the arts the pandemic meant that this was curtailed, so this being the 20th makes it even more special.”

William Spurway, visual artist from Corsock who will be exhibiting in Dumfries, said: “For the first Spring Fling we opened our tiny cottage, clearing everything into the bedroom and hanging paintings and prints in the two other rooms and the hall. Now I have a wonderful studio as part of an artists’ co-operative at Solway House.

“For me, Spring Fling represents a coming together of a vibrant community of artists and makers all working towards the same goal, to make each year unique, to showcase our region as a whole, alongside the high calibre of work that is professionally produced here."

Spring Fling was set up by Dumfries and Galloway Council visual arts development

officer Jane McArthur and crafts development officer Clare Hanna.

Clare, who now works for the Holywood Trust, said: “There had been attempts at an open studio event before foot and mouth hit the region and they hadn’t been successful.

So the pressure was on, we knew we had one chance and we had to get it right. I think the fact that artists and makers helped shape Spring Fling has been a big part of its success and longevity.”

This year’s event will mark a return to being a physical first event after two years in which it was largely or completely digital.

This year’s programme includes –

Biscuit Factory Exhibition (May 14-July 24) at the Biscuit Factory, Newcastle: 20 past and present Spring Flingers fly the flag for the art and craft of south west Scotland at the UK’s largest art, craft and design gallery;

Spring Fling at 20 (May 28-July 2) at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries: an exhibition featuring work by more than 40 past and present participants;

Modern Makers (May 14-June 25) at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries: an exhibition celebrating the Modern Makers programme which allows young people to learn traditional craft techniques.

Spring Fling Open Studios Weekend (June 2-5) across Dumfries and Galloway: close to 100 specially selected artists and makers open their studios to the public.

Visitors will be able to follow six colour-coded routes taking them round studios in different parts of the region and some studios will have special evening openings and offer other attractions like demonstrations, there will also be bus tours round selected studios.

An illustrated online talk will be given by artist Amy Whiten of Recoat, about the Rural Mural project, and and for those who can’t attend Spring Fling in person, there are virtual studios to explore on the website.

Chris Bridgman, Upland Project Manager, who is organising this year’s event, said: “It’s a real tribute to Spring Fling that so many of those who took part in the first event will be involved in the 20th.

“Back in 2003 it harnessed the strength of our creative community to help the region rebuild in the aftermath of foot and mouth. Since then it has grown and developed into an important feature in Scotland’s annual arts and cultural calendar.

“After two difficult years we hope that this specially extended 4-day Spring Fling, will encourage visitors to rediscover Dumfries and Galloway – and make a significant contribution to its recovery from Covid.”

For more information visit www.spring-fling.co.uk