Spring Fling 2006: discovering the arts and crafts of Dumfries and Galloway

Spring Fling is a three-day window to indulge yourself in your passion, interest, hobby or curiosity.

Feature by Anna Battista | 16 May 2006

Bored with the usual art festivals in which hundreds of galleries impersonally exhibit works by artists you don't like or you couldn't care less about? Then take the last weekend of May off and embark on a new and exciting adventure, Spring Fling. Now in its fourth year, this art and craft open studio weekend takes place across Dumfries and Galloway and gives you the opportunity to visit various artists and craft-makers' studios and workshops scattered across this beautiful region, have the privilege of seeing artists in their own environment and actually speak to them.

This year, Spring Fling boasts 93 individual participants representing different disciplines, from metalwork to ceramics and jewellery, from photography to printmaking, from painting to stone carving and sculpture, just to mention a few.

During the event you will be able to follow six different studio trails that will also allow you to admire the beauties of the region, its heritage sites and, perhaps, stop to have a bite in local restaurants and cafes.

"Spring Fling is a three-day window to indulge yourself in your passion, interest, hobby or curiosity," Helen Voce, Craft Development Officer in Dumfries and Galloway, states, "it's an opportunity to step into secret creative spaces, meet artists and makers, take a look at their work and, perhaps, buy a special piece of work directly from a studio."

One of the novelties of Spring Fling 2006 is the New Faces scheme: recent graduates in a fine or applied art subject previously schooled in the region are invited to share a studio with an established artist. The New Faces of 2006 are painter Steven Higginson, jeweller Alison Macleod and jeweller and silversmith Shimara Carlow.

"I see Spring Fling as a great opportunity to show my work and to gain exposure," Steven Higginson, who will exhibit a range of oil paintings, sketchbooks, drawings and watercolours, says, "but, hopefully, I will also be able to learn through it and through the other artists who will be exhibiting during the event."

"As an artist, you definitely benefit from taking part in Spring Fling," painter Julie Dumbarton, who works at the Bakehouse Studio, a former bakehouse based in Langholm, claims, "people come and see your work during this mini-festival and many of them come back to visit you throughout the year, so it also helps us building customer relationships. We didn't know what to expect last year but it was brilliant, it was a good confidence boost for everybody involved in it."

Blacksmith Adam Booth agrees with Julie: "My work is all commission-only and it is site-specific, besides there's no gallery environment I can work within and this makes it very difficult for me to interact with the public," he explains, "Spring Fling allows me to show visitors what my work is about and to get feedback from them."

If you find yourself on the M74 around the end of May, slow down and take a break to discover the arts and crafts of Scotland's scenic South West.

Spring Fling 2006, May 27-29, 10.30am-5.30pm (late night opening until 7pm on Saturday May 27 in selected studios)