Exhibition Celebrates 25 Years Of Wigtown Book Festival Memories

Visitors are enjoying a free exhibition featuring hundreds of pictures – many donated by the public – all about the first 25 years of Wigtown Book Festival.

It covers four main themes: creativity, transformation, togetherness, celebration, and features delightful images of local people, famous authors, key events and behind-the-scenes moments.

Entitled Festival 25 it is being shown in a purpose-built studio space created and donated by Galloway business Iron & Pine which was founded by Luke Mazs and Alastair Fell.

The pair were students at Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart before leaving the area to find better career opportunities, but very much wanted to return so eventually set up Iron & Pine in Dalbeattie.

The company specialises in upcycling steel shipping containers and transforming them into luxury modular buildings of all kinds from holiday homes, residences and garden rooms to offices, bars, shops and event spaces.

In this case they created a chic, black-painted exhibition unit that is positioned close to the front of Wigtown’s County Buildings.

Luke said: “I remember Wigtown 25 years ago – things really weren’t great for the town back then. What the festival has done is amazing.
“We really wanted to contribute something to the festival – our aims and our stories have so much in common. We are both about regeneration, creating new opportunities and promoting Galloway.
“It’s such a great place but it doesn’t shout about itself enough. Perhaps that’s starting to change now.”
The pair now hope that things are looking up.
Alastair said: “When we were young everyone who had any ambition or aspirations left the region. You had to head to the Central Belt or beyond if you wanted to get anywhere.
“But nowadays all our mates who moved away when we did are desperate to come back. They love the place, the quality of life and the fact that it’s a brilliant place for families.
“With all the changes taking place in communications and the ability to work from home the prospects could be really good for business in Galloway. In fact, I think the sky’s the limit.”

This year’s 25th annual festival, which runs to 1 October, is an ideal moment to look back at all the marvellous moments and memories that it’s provided.

Adrian Turpin, the festival’s artistic director, said: “Wigtown’s journey to becoming Scotland’s Book Town was an unusual and imaginative response to an urgent problem – how to reinvigorate a community facing hard times.
“That mission gave the festival a sense of purpose and has been part of its DNA for 25 years. This exhibition gives a sense of that DNA, of what makes the festival and the community special.
“Thousands of photos have been taken over the years and we are very grateful to all those members of the public who contributed their own pictures. Choosing what to include was truly daunting.
“The end result is a fabulous exhibition which you can enjoy while getting away from the hurly burly of the festival – and we are really grateful to Iron & Pine for making it all possible with this brilliant exhibition space.”

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