Open Studio Event: The Spring Fling, Dumfries and Galloway, various locations, June 2 - June 5 2012.
Perhaps it’s the light, the sense of space or the stunning landscape and coastline of Dumfries and Galloway that makes it such a draw for artists, writers and makers.
Whatever the attractions - and there are many - the beautifully rural south west Scottish region is now a hotbed of artistic creativity and host to the Spring Fling; one the UK’s most successful arts and crafts annual open studio events.
The event has become something of a phenomenon in its ten years and now draws thousands of visitors from far and wide keen seek out and explore the many studios that litter the area.
This year the tenth anniversary sees the weekend event extend to take in the whole Diamond Jubilee bank holiday - allowing people time to really winkle out many of the picturesque locations opening their doors amidst the region’s quaint towns, villages and fabulous countryside.
Seventy-six artists - operating in a variety of places from former stables to garden sheds and houses - take part this year. They are however a select band, whittled down during a rigorous selection process that organisers say keeps the event “fresh” and the artwork of a “high standard”.
It’s perhaps this and its eclecticism that has helped Spring Fling grow from a modest affair that its Chair Hazel Campbell says initially had only “modest aspirations” to a festival that now regularly attracts thousands.
And there’s plenty to attract them. Apart from the chance to take in the sights in a beautiful part of the world there are potters, painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, glassware artists, gilders, furniture makers, jewellers, wood turners, textile and mosaic artists - all lining up to talk and engage. And of course sell artworks that range in price from £1 to £10,000.
“We aim to keep things fresh and fun and do new things every year so that we maintain the vibrancy of Spring Fling and continue to appeal to the under 50s,” adds Campbell. “I’m particularly excited about this year’s new activities such as our Young Artists’ Mentoring Programme; it’s wonderful to be supporting and nurturing new talent.”
The latter is a bursary programme that has seen two art school graduates with links to the area given £1,000 to create new work. Elsewhere mosaic artist Kate Anderson has combined with pupils at Kirkcowan Primary School to produce a mosaic celebrating the school's 150th anniversary.
Video artist Sally Hogarth has knitted a series of 17-inch square QR codes that smart phone savvy visitors can scan to download her movie celebrating the local art of Sanquhar knitting.
The 10th birthday celebrations also see a specially commissioned public artwork by installation artist Alice Francis (above) who will cover an entire cottage with floral stretch fabric. Francis will be on hand - wearing a trouser suit made of the same material - so visitors can have fun spotting her against the background.
- All the studios taking part open daily from 10.30am to 5pm and are free to visit.
- For full details of the programme and the artists, makers and designers, see the website at www.spring-fling.co.uk
Watch the promotional video: