Scotland’s Artists’ Town holds 10-day celebration of its magical light
International soprano Emma Morwood yesterday sang in what could be “the world’s smallest opera house” for the programme launch of next month’s Kirkcudbright Festival of Light.
The 10-day event, from 5-14 October, is a celebration of the remarkable quality of light in the southern Scottish town which has attracted and inspired generations of artists.
The castle, tolbooth and other prominent buildings will be lit up, there will be street installations and even an illuminated 18 foot wicker horse.
Unusual delights will include the chance to visit Kirkcudbright’s three colourful and quirky harbour beach huts which are part of the Kirkcubright Art and Crafts Trail owned by Colin Saul who has turned each of them into a miniature world.
One has been transformed into what is described as the world’s smallest opera house (complete with piano), the second is a writer’s retreat and to commemorate the centenary of the end of WWI the third is a section of a trench.
The festival promises an exciting mix of events and entertainment led by an international programme. It will open with recitals by Emma Morwood and Jonathan Fisher and concluding with a concert by the Scottish Ensemble. Both events will be on the theme of light.
Morwood said:“It was quite an experience to sing in what might be the world’s smallest opera house. And it’s such a beautiful part of the world here in Kirkcudbright.
“To have artists here from all over the country will be amazing and Sally Hobson has done a wonderful job of curating and creating a cohesive programme. Kirkcudbright is going to be a very exciting place to be for the duration of the festival.”
The festival has been inspired by this year’s opening of the Kirkcudbright Galleries, the new permanent home of the “nationally significant” Kirkcudbright Collectionwhich consists of more than 600 works of art and craft.
The galleries will be hosting Illumphonium, a dynamic and interactive multi-sensory music-making installation and will also be displaying a specially commissioned glass sculpture inspired by Kirkcudbright’s light and coastal heritage.
The local community is coming together to create light displays in historic streets and hidden corners, craft workshops, a Diwali event, music, a lantern parade and fireworks and a 60s and 70s night called Trip the Light Fantastic.
Colin Saul, who is among the festival organisers, said:“This is such a creative community and we are working together to organise a very special festival to celebrate what has been an amazing year for Kirkcudbright.
“It was the quality of light that attracted the many wonderful artists and makers whose work is exhibited in the new galleries and that is still one of its great attractions. And autumn is a time when the town, and the rest of Dumfries and Galloway, are at their most beautiful.”
Sally Hobson, former Head of Creative Learning for the Edinburgh International Festival has curated the international programme. She said: “We are looking forward to some wonderful evenings of musical entertainment from some of the finest singers and musicians in Scotland today. And there could be few more delightful times and places to enjoy them than an October evening in Kirkcudbright.”
Hobson has also organised workshops by Scottish ballet. One is for students at Kirkcudbright Academy and the other is for the general public and takes place at Cochran Hall.
Councillor Adam Wilson, the Council’s Events Champion said:“Kirkcudbright never ceases to amaze and impress – and really lives up to its status as Scotland’s Artists’ Town. We are very proud to be supporting the festival of light, which will be a superb opportunity to visit the town, enjoy some superb cultural events and see inside the new galleries.”
Kirkcudbright Festival of Light is being supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Kirkcudbright Festival of Light, which will celebrate the town’s rich heritage and artistic community, through the talents of both local and international musicians and artists.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for cultural events, and with such a rich and diverse programme set in the beautiful surroundings of this shimmering coastal town, the festival is sure to attract thousands of people to the region.”
These days the area is not only valued for its light – but its darkness as well.
The Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park has one of the lowest levels of light pollution in the country – making it possible to see more than 7,000 stars with the naked eye.
One of the festival’s attractions will be a mobile planetarium that will give visitors an idea of what is visible in the heavens.