Scottish Artists Celebrate Their Sense of Place with New Exhibition

From the lively harbour at Kirkcudbright to abandoned cottages on Lewis – the locations which inspire over 30 artists and makers

More than 30 artists and makers will explore their sense of “place” in a special exhibition ahead of the annual Spring Fling open studios weekend.

Many are inspired by the land, sea and skyscapes of Dumfries and Galloway, where the annual event takes place, or by different parts of Scotland. For others it’s the towns or villages where they live and work.

Among those contributing to Place, at the Ottersburn Gallery, Dumfries (see www.ottersburn.com) from 17 April to 7 May, is the Kirkcudbright painter Heather M Nisbet.

She says:For me Kirkcudbright is ‘the place’. My studio is there and much of my current work is inspired by its buildings, its boats and the local landscape. I went to school in Kirkcudbright but lived in Glasgow for many years and have only recently returned. I can’t get enough of it.
“One of my paintings is of Emulous, a whelk boat which operates out of Kirkcudbright harbour and is berthed at the marina. Its vibrant red hull made it a ‘must paint’ subject.
“The town also has some very eye-catching buildings. One of my paintings, Pink and Peach, depicts a couple of houses in the High Street, near the Tolbooth. The old bike is often parked outside.”
Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: The exhibition celebrates the role of this region, and others play, in the creative lives of our artists and gives a snapshot of all that makes Dumfries and Galloway so special.
“It’s a great foretaste to the open studios weekend when visitors will get the chance to meet artists and makers throughout one of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of Scotland.”

The 16th annual event takes place across Dumfries and Galloway from 26 to 28 May and will include 86 artists and makers. Visitors will be able to see jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, photography, original prints, metalwork, glass, textiles, furniture and more.

The Ottersburn Gallery, in Nith Avenue, Dumfries, is run by Sean McKay, who said:Ottersburn Gallery is delighted to take part in the Spring Fling for the first time, and the theme ‘Place’ is especially apt for us. Opening Ottersburn Gallery and Picture Framing has underlined our own sense of place here in our home town, and its location in the heart of Dumfries, tucked beside the Nith, is the perfect spot for working artists who call Dumfries and Galloway their home.”

More Spring Fling artists explain their sense of place

Here is what some of the other contributing artists to the exhibition say about their sense of place, or the work they have submitted. All will also be taking part in Spring Fling and have been listed along with the area where their work will be on display during the open studios weekend. For the full list of exhibiting artists visit the Spring Fling website.

  • Minette Bell Macdonald, Lockerbie:Place is special to every artist. Place to me is empty. Landscape, seascape, The Merse, Caerlaverock. That is my place. It’s where I am able to express myself through my painting. Empty place, lonely place that is what defines my work and practice.”
  • Claire Cameron-Smith, Kirkcudbright: “The Southerness and Mull of Galloway lighthouses lie at either end of the region. My place of work lies between the two, in Kirkcudbright. I created the prints using techniques from the Japanese woodblock tradition and more western methods such as reduction printing. Both prints demonstrate the methods used in my practice, and are representations of the region, the place I live and work.”
  • Catherine Coulson, Rockcliffe: “As a landscape artist and naturalist, inspired by nature and wilderness, my work focuses on place, looking beyond the aesthetic or geographic idea of location, into the depths of what makes an environment. Orchard Mist shows the land behind my home; an old orchard on the edge of the wood, surrounded by lowland heath, above an underground stream running from the loch. This was early morning when I went to retrieve a bat detector, thick with mist and glowing with pale blue light.”
  • Laura Derby, Kirkcudbright: “A place that nurtures me is where the river meets the sea out in the big sky openness of Dhoon Bay at turn of tide. Time and eternity pause between the ebb of the ocean until the water flows again. I wait and watch and wonder. I contemplate on the vastness and weight of the body of water which pauses momentarily to readjust to the new pull of the moon.”
  • Liz Gilbey, Gatehouse of Fleet: “January at Ornockenoch was made on the hills behind my home and features the weather-bent thorn trees which are very characteristic of the land I live on and give me a strong sense of place.  The trees speak of the effects of wind, climate and the passage of time in this place and the colour reflects the seasons. I spend as much time as possible outdoor painting and this forces a spontaneous approach – wind and rain are never far away.”
  • Angela Lawrence, Castle Douglas: “A large proportion of my work shows actual places: usually a location I think is beautiful, interesting or evocative, which I know intimately and want to share. Softening Light Kippfordis for me about recognising those transitory moments often experienced near by the sea, when the light or the wind is just changing and the place we know undergoes some transformation.”
  • Hope London, Wigtown: “Place has a profound influence on my work, but I was never so conscious of this as I have become since living in Dumfries and Galloway. Being surrounded by the intense drama of nature has affected my desire to paint and my approach. These images are a response to the view from my window and down the road, which leads to a path alongside Wigtown Bay and the Martyrs’ Stake – a place of huge spiritual and historic significance. The events there reflect extremes of human behaviour, noble and cruel. Walking down the path, I began to feel similarities between human nature and the natural environment. The landscape felt like a character subject to dramatic mood swings from the painfully harsh to the unspeakably gentle, but always beautiful.”
  • Val Macadam, Dumfries:“Mull and Iona have become a rich source of inspiration to me. Many of the themes in my drawings are from observations and sketches made there. These themes, often of colours, shapes or patterns, link features like wild flowers, wildlife and washing lines, sometimes with one seemingly morphing into another. My eye is also drawn to quirks of nature, like windblown hedges and trees, not uncommon at home on the Solway Coast or the Inner Hebrides. These features add to the movement and energy I aim to create and sit naturally within my skewed style of work!”
  • Kevan McGinty, Whithorn: “The Inverpollaidh region of the North West Highlands has had a dramatic effect on my imagination. The raw, untainted landscape, with mountains of real individual character, and water everywhere you look as either sea or lochan, breathes air and freedom into my soul. Being local to my studio, Monreith on the Machars peninsula in Dumfries and Galloway holds a special place in my art. Intimacy with this landscape feeds me creatively and spiritually, by allowing me into nature’s infinitely subtle and beautiful rhythms.”
  • Suzanne Stuart Davies, Castle Douglas: “A preoccupation in 2017 was my decision to leave Dumfries and Galloway, my home for 20 years, to live and work in the wilds of Shap, in Cumbria, nearer my family. Sadness and regret were combined with just ‘getting on with it’ and trying to look forward, recognising that I was actually only moving about 40 miles from the place – the landscapes and varied habitats – I still loved.”
For more see www.spring-fling.co.uk.

Latest Articles