Last month, Kirkcudbright Galleries celebrated the fifth anniversary of opening to the public in June 2018 with decorations and lots of free cake.
Now they are celebrating the anniversary of the official opening of the galleries by The Princess Royal in July 2018 with an online digital campaign, reflecting on memories created through this first five years of opening.
Kirkcudbright Galleries has always tried to bring high quality and fascinating exhibitions that will attract both local and national visitors. The gallery has also developed some amazing partnerships over the years that will continue through the future of the gallery. When the building first opened in 2018, partnership working with National Galleries Scotland resulted in The Monarch of the Glen, an iconic piece of Scottish art, coming to Kirkcudbright Galleries. This exhibition brought in over 11,000 visitors to see the monarch and the new refurbishment in one month alone. Despite covid closures, there has been more than 200,000 visitors to our site. Partnerships developed so far include National Museums Scotland, The Ashmolean Museum, The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, Royal Scottish Academy, Wasps, Scottish Portrait Awards and many more.
Kirkcudbright Galleries has become an engrained part of the visitor experience in Kirkcudbright, as there is always a changing temporary exhibition programme – meaning visitors can come back and see something different each time. The mezzanine activity space has hosted many talks, workshops, and school groups, but it’s also a place that is offered to local groups and events to make sure that the galleries are able to assist with community projects. Kirkcudbright Galleries is one of the sponsors for Kirkcudbright Book Week, and is using the mezzanine space as part of the offerings for Kirkcudbright Fringe Festival that takes place later in the year. There are many events planned to collaborate with Kirkcudbright Festival of Light and the Kirkcudbright Festivities programme.
Reflecting on the fifth year since the galleries opened, Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Communities Committee Ian Blake said: “It has been a real pleasure to see this facility achieve high visitor figures every year, with over 200,000 people attending to date – despite covid closures. It is great to see the facility being used every day for a range of reasons, with offerings for people of all ages to engage with creativity and culture and being used as a hub for lots of different events happening in Kirkcudbright.”
There have been a lot of highlights at the galleries so far. The Galloway Hoard was a very special exhibition that received such a fantastic response from visitors. There has also been a successful collaboration on Japan: Art and Inspiration exhibition, which involved Kirkcudbright Galleries, National Museums Scotland, and The Ashmolean Museum – who lent Hiroshige’s Views of Mount Fuij. Many people love Japanese art and traditional woodblock prints, and the authentic tea ceremony was extremely busy. Further highlights were The British Wildlife Photography Awards, Gerald Scarfe and more recently, The Raymond Briggs Exhibition. The Briggs exhibition was very poignant, and emotive. So many visitors loved being able to see images again that they hadn’t seen since their childhood.
There are so many exciting things to look forward to this year and over the next five years – the galleries are currently showing the latest exhibition by Ewan McClure, artist in residence at Broughton House. The summer exhibition: Eardley Explored: The Art of Joan Eardley with photography by Audrey Walker is on display now until 1 October. Following that is the Scottish Portrait Awards, which showcases the quality of portrait artists across Scotland. Further ahead are collaborations with Royal Scottish Academy, National Museums Scotland and The Friends of Kirkcudbright Galleries. Everyone involved in Kirkcudbright Galleries are extremely proud of what has been achieved and are excited for all the things that are still to come.
Vice Chair of Communities Committee Jackie McCamon has said: “The success of Kirkcudbright Galleries and the support from its visitors is wonderful. The galleries can bring visitors back time and again with their thoughtful and inspiring exhibitions, providing access to artists’ living in the region, and providing access for everyone to experience exhibitions of such quality. We can’t wait to see what comes in the next five years.”