Organising Spring Fling, which sees nearly 100 studios across Dumfries and Galloway open their doors to the public, is hugely challenging at any time. This year the project manager is Cockermouth-based Chris Bridgman who took on the role as maternity cover for Joanna Jones, Assistant Director of Upland Arts Development CIC, which runs the annual open studios weekend.
Adding to the challenges of running a large visual art and craft event across a huge and highly rural area is the fact that 2022 is very special.
For one thing it’s the 20th Spring Fling and for another it is returning to being largely in-person rather than digital – giving people from Scotland, northern England and beyond a chance to enjoy Dumfries and Galloway’s amazing art and beautiful countryside.
Chris, who has had a long career in the arts and is also the Development Producer for the Cumbria Arts and Culture Network, said: “One of the things I’ve discovered is just what an amazing and thriving creative community there is in Dumfries and Galloway.
“I’ve loved being part of the team and am hugely impressed by the quality of the art and craft that’s involved, and the way the organisation behind it punches so far above its weight.
“I’d really encourage people from Cumbria to pay a visit and to enjoy some of the Spring Fling weekend, it’s such a great opportunity to visit some fabulous studios in wonderful places, see some superb art and meet some remarkable people.”
Spring Fling has been specially extended this year and takes place over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend from 2-5 June.
Chris particularly recommends a visit to the Gracefield Arts Centre for the Spring Fling at 20 exhibition (28 May to 2 July) which features work by more than 40 past and present participants.
He said: “It’s a great way to see where the event has come from and to appreciate all it has achieved over the years.”
Spring Fling was set up by Dumfries and Galloway Council Visual Arts Development Officer Jane McArthur and Crafts Development Officer Clare Hanna and was seen as a way to rebuild after foot and mouth. This year it’s helping with COVID recovery.
Chris is also looking forward to this year’s special Creative Bursary project, which is called Earthlight, and involves a series of installations that project digital images onto ceramics.
Earthlight, which is by Ruth Elizabeth Jones and Emma Varley, will be at the Gracefield Arts Centre throughout Spring Fling.
Cumbrian creativity will also be on display during the event thanks to the Neighbours scheme which invites artists and makers from regions bordering Dumfries and Galloway to take part.
Miles Moore Ceramics, from The Lake District, will be showing some of their work at the studio of furniture-maker Daniel Lacey in Langholm.
Others with strong Cumbrian links are visual artists Suzanne Stuart Davies, now based near Shap, and Anne Waggot Knott who lives in Cockermouth.
Amy Marletta, Upland’s Director, said: “Chris has tremendous experience and has been a huge asset. We’re a small team and have had more than ever to do as this is such a special year for us.
“We are really looking forward to the launch of our exhibitions like Spring Fling at 20 and to the main event itself – and to welcoming visitors along in person as we look to start rebuilding after the COVID years.”
Spring Fling visitors can follow six colour-coded routes taking them round the 96 studios in different parts of the region. Some studios will have special evening openings and offer other attractions like demonstrations. As ever there will also be bus tours round selected studios.
There will also be an illustrated online talk by artist Amy Whiten of Recoat, about the highly successful Rural Mural project. And for those who can’t attend Spring Fling in person, there are virtual studios to explore on the website.
- Brochures can be downloaded from www.spring-fling.co.uk.
- The organisers will ensure that all government COVID-19 guidance is followed so visitors and participants can take part in a safe Spring Fling.