From the Love of Human Beauty to Powerfully Political Pottery

Ceramics, painting, jewellery and textiles – Spring Fling, Scotland’s premier open studios event held in Dumfries and Galloway unveils its richly varied line-up for 2018

Spring Fling has unveiled its full line-up for 2018 – offering the chance to enjoy the work of artists and makers using a multitude of mediums to explore everything from atomic Armageddon to the essence of human beauty.

Among them are ceramicist Chris Taylor who uses an elaborate underglaze tissue printing technique he researched in China to form rich, complex decorative patterns on everything from tiles, cups and plates to vases and jars.

His exhibits will include a jar, almost a metre tall, that contains a hidden image of President Trump with bombs raining down, which was created at the height of recent tensions between the USA and North Korea.

He said: “My work is normally purely decorative, but that was a moment when I was very concerned. I have kids and like parents all round the world just want them to be able to grow up in peace and have their chance at life.”

Spring Fling, which will involve 86 specially selected participants across Dumfries and Galloway, is split into recommended colour-coded routes which take visitors round different parts of the beautiful south west Scottish region.

Chris, who is based at the Solway House studio complex at The Crichton, is among the 23 studios and two galleries on the Orange Route that covers Dumfries, Dalbeattie and down to the coast at the gorgeous village of Rockcliffe.

The Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, will host another three Spring Fling artists including Emma Visca whose paintings emphasise her fascination with the human form and who sometimes uses herself as the model.

Emma’s work has sold well internationally, particularly in the USA. She went to art school in the 1990s but set her brushes aside for many years while she worked and raised four children.

She said: “I started painting again in around 2005 – we had moved to a new house and wanted something to go on the walls, but it has become an absolute passion for me. And I find I’m particularly inspired by the female form, it’s so beautiful.”

The event, from 26 to 28 May, includes a huge variety of visual art and craft from people including:

  • Sarah Stewart, Wigtown: A printmaker working with silkscreen and relief printing processes. Sarah applies her designs across a variety of textiles and book forms.
  • Suzi Plunkett, Newton Stewart: Creator of detailed illustrations using thousands of little dots and circles. Studio visitors will see a whole range of prints, homewares, greeting cards and other items, all handmade. Her inspiration is from her love of the natural world and life growing up in Dumfries and Galloway.
  • Alistair Hamilton, Ross Bay, Kirkcudbright: His remarkable photographs show pattern, detail and texture. Subjects range from tiny features that go unnoticed, to whole landscapes, but it is always the details that are important.
  • Lucy Hadley, Kirkcudbright: An illustrator whose love for the natural world is reflected in her work. She mixes traditional and modern digital techniques.
  • Maggie Ayres, Kirkcudbright: Stand in front of a piece of Maggie’s work and you are looking through numerous physical layers of beeswax and tree resin. Her work incorporates oil paint, papers, fabric, threads and textural mark making. Watch out for her wall panels and framed rust print collages.
  • Jennie Ashmore, Auchencairn, Castle Douglas: Pressed leaves and flowers from gardens and wild places to are used to create intricate create leafworks which reflect the beauty and vibrancy of the natural world. Jennie also uses paint and other media combined with natural materials.
  • Janet Ibbotson, Auchencairn, Castle Douglas: Apart from embroidering and felting gossamer fine cashmere for scarves, Janet makes individually tailored jackets and coats in a wide range of different tweeds. She is renowned for her quality, design, pattern cutting and sewing which reflect skills honed over many years.
  • Patti Lean, Crossmichael, Castle Douglas: Her paintings are from an environmentalist stance, informed by research into the writer and mountaineer Nan Shepherd. Patti’s own past experiences walking in Scotland, Iceland and Finland, are often reflected in the character of her work.
  • Clare Dawdry, Kirkpatrick Durham: Maker of useful pots that are well crafted and a pleasure to use. Her bowls, mugs, vases and jugs are functional and lovely. The decoration is quietly evocative of local land and seascapes.
  • Christine Hester Smith, Barnbarroch Pottery, Kippford, Dalbeattie: Unusual illustrative ceramics, often inspired by chance observations, fables and allegories. Christine has a love of medieval art and has recently found inspiration in Nepalese temple carvings.
  • Michael Pell, New Abbey: A designer and maker of small silver objects and precious jewellery in gold and silver that sometimes includes unique gemstones. His work is inspired by the natural and built environment, and the study and re-interpretation of antique and ancient jewellery pieces and decorative objects.
  • Katharine Wheeler, Thornhill: A visual artist with a practice that spans from studio-based painting and drawing to public and socially-engaged work and collaboration. She aims to be relevant, inclusive and inspirational.
  • Kaz Robertson, Thornhill: A jewellery maker working mainly with resin, she creates pieces which combine a 
bold colour palette with pattern. Some pieces have magnets incorporated and others are reversible.
  • Philip Wilson, Penpont, Thornhill: A furniture maker who has been designing and creating pieces of furniture for more than 30 years. He mostly uses locally sourced Scottish hardwoods in his work.
  • Michael Batey, Canonbie: A painter with a passion for ethereal, dramatic land and skyscapes. Michael mainly works in oils but is starting to diversify into watercolours.
  • Heather Blanchard Waterbeck, Lockerbie: A painter who captures the beauty of unconsidered landscape – trees, gates, tracks. She exhibits alongside her husband, an original printmaker with a deep love of British wildlife.
Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: One of the great things about Spring Fling is the incredible variety it offers. There are wonderful traditional landscape painters, through to edgy contemporary artists and the makers of beautiful jewellery, clothes and ceramics.
“This year’s event promises to be superb and we really look forward to welcoming visitors from all over Scotland and the UK, and from overseas, to enjoy the event and explore one of Scotland’s loveliest rural regions.”  

For full details and the suggested routes see www.spring-fling.co.uk.

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