Collected – A New Exhibition to Celebrate 15 Years of Spring Fling

This weekend sees the opening of a 15th anniversary exhibition ‘Collected’ dedicated to art collections created due to the annual Spring Fling open studios event.

Ever since its beginnings in 2003, private and public collectors have taken the opportunity to invest in art and craft by emerging and established artists and makers across Dumfries and Galloway.

Collected: 15 Years of Spring Fling, takes place at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, from 22 April to 13 May with a special preview from 6-8pm on Friday, 21 April.

The annual event has had a wide impact, with people buying everything from paintings, original prints, photography, glassware and sculpture to beautify their homes to jewellery and clothes for themselves or their loved ones.

Figures indicate that well over 130,000 people made nearly 378,000 studio visits between 2003 and 2016.

Among them have been the Dias and Hudspeth family, from London, who have attended all but two Spring Flings. They have loaned 14 pieces to the exhibition including a cake stand by glassmaker Amanda Simmons, ceramics by Andy Priestman and Clare Dawdry and a quadtych of Galloway trees by Claire Cameron-Smith.

Helen Dias and her Husband Bryan Hudspeth
Helen Dias said: “I’ve lent 14 pieces, but it could have been many more. There’s pottery, glassware, pictures and a lovely wooden bench.
“My daughter Sophie also has her own mini collection that she’s bought with pocket money and what she has saved up over the years.”

Helen, her husband Bryan Hudspeth, and children Sophie and Hugh, were encouraged to come up for the second Spring Fling after family members from Carlisle had said how much they enjoyed the first.

It was a chance to get away during the school holidays, and to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Helen added: “It’s such a great excuse to explore the byways of Dumfries and Galloway, and what you soon find is that artists have a real knack of finding beautiful places to live and work.
“What makes it wonderful is that the artists are so generous with their time. We have got to know them over the years and some have become good mates.
“Thanks to Spring Fling we’ve built up so many happy memories, and tried out so many things like weaving and making raku pots.”

Helen also credits Spring Fling, and the encouragement offered by the artists, with nurturing her children’s creativity. Sophie took art at A Level and is now studying architecture while Hugh loves pottery at school.

The exhibition features pieces from four private collections and from Gracefield (which has acquired pieces by Spring Fling artists as part of its remit to reflect the art of the region). It includes work by Lucianne Lassalle, John Threlfall, Colin Park, Nancy Chinnery, John Crosby, Maggie Savage and Patti Lean.

Dawn Henderby, Dumfries and Galloway Council Arts Officer, said: “What’s lovely about this exhibition is that it not only displays a broad example of Spring Fling artists, but explores where their works are now, how they have shaped people’s lives and homes, highlighting the special relationships built between artist and collector.”
Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland Arts Development, which runs Spring Fling, said: “Collecting art and craft is a real pleasure for countless people, and the chance to meet the artists and makers, makes it even more special.
“All over the country and the world there are people with pieces they have collected during the open studios weekend and some have whole collections from the event.
“By focusing on collectors and collections this exhibition is a way to celebrate the people, the art and the region – the magical mix that defines Spring Fling.”

Spring Fling was set up and run by Dumfries and Galloway Council to provide a showcase for the region’s creative community and to attract cultural tourism.

Nowadays it is run independently but has continued council support. This year it received a grant of £32,500 towards the cost of the event, which will see 93 artists and makers throw open their studio doors from 27-29 May.

Spring Fling has seen an estimated £2,337,000 being invested in art and craft from the region and has also generated around £11.4m for the area’s economy.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Events Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “The Collected exhibition will be fascinating to attend, to see the range and quality of pieces that visitors to Spring Fling have purchased and cherished over the years. I am looking forward to seeing in this one exhibition, how living and working in Dumfries and Galloway has inspired our artists and craft makers. 
“The council has invested consistently in Spring Fling over the past 15 years due to its qualities in enhancing the production of quality art in the region and supporting a thriving, forward looking artists community to go from strength to strength in Dumfries and Galloway.”

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

Gracefield Arts Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and the exhibition is free.

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