Saturday, 14 June 2008

Spring Fling

This year we decided to visit the "Spring Fling" properly and stay for a few days in the area. Spring Fling is a three day event organised for studios in the south west of Scotland. The studios are selected by the organisers. A very professional brochure is published to guide you round the studios and sights of the area. We visited a number of studios during our two day stay in Kirkcudbright.

We visited a number of studios, but one or two we missed as the directions assume you are traveling the marked routes and in a particular direction. I suppose some assumptions have to be made, and it would be difficult to provide a map in addition to the directions for each studio without making the publication cluttered and pedestrian. I should have printed off maps from the mapping sites, as each studio gives its full postal address. We did find quite a few, and did enjoy the countryside.

Among the studios we visited were: Judith Gregson who does delightful carvings of plant forms into and on sandstone. The scale ranges from table top to monumental. For those of you who like to have multimedia presentations and demonstrations, Adam Booth at Piper's Forge is a treat. As his work is so large (generally) most of the time spent with him is viewing a well presented show of his work in progress and installed. At the end of the visuals, he demonstrates the way he works by producing a leaf. If you are lucky you can walk away with one of these as a gift.

We went to Glencaple to visit two artists, one of whom I came into contact through "Cutting Edge" a travelling exhibition organised by the National Museums of Scotland in which we were both represented. Mark Devlin is a furniture maker of significant inventiveness. We saw a piece of furniture and are now in the process of commissioning a similar one. At the same venue was William Spurway whose landscapes captivated us. So much that we bought a painting of two winter oaks. He also had displayed a large lively drawing of a bull that showed a very different side to his work.

Among other studios we visited there were more highlights: Lizzie Farey produces sculptural work in basketry. The forms and shapes she uses are very attractive to me, and I bought one wall piece. If I could have afforded it, I would have bought a group of three. Her studio is in a farmstead, using, along with other artists, the barns and sheds converted to studios with wood burning stoves for warmth. Among those working there is Hanna McAndrew who works with an amber to black range of glazes. Again a purchase could not be resisted.

Another significant visit for me was to Joe Smith's garden. The range of slate sculptures just in his garden is amazing. I will tell more about this visit and influence later.

Of course I did have to visit some glass studios. The first of these that I visited was Amanda Simmons. The front rooms of her house were turned into a bright open exhibition space showing a wide range of her work and descriptions with photographs of various community projects. Her studio was open too. This showed just how much work is required to prepare for these three days. Going round her studio made me think of how messy my studio is, because everything was neatly tidied away. Work surfaces were clean and uncluttered, materials were stored and labeled, the floor was almost spotless.

One of the reasons for going to the studios was to get ideas of how I might deal with my studio for the WASPS Open Studios in the Autumn (first weekend of October, if you are planning to come). There is a lot of work needed to get the studio into shape if you are going to use it as a display place. Some people we went to see had a separate permanent display area or place, but others just had to clean up. Some had spent the whole of the week preparing for the weekend - clearing up, finding other storage places, painting, etc. So I have to do something more than deciding on Friday night how things will be displayed on Saturday and Sunday. This was good for me.

The other glass studio I visited is a must for entertainment and education. Ed Igelhart is a showman, philosopher and entertainer in addition to his skills as a lamp worker. If you are in the area, you must make contact to see if you can visit. He sat in his big open tepee-like tent making objects and talking to the audience. When there were no questions, he would begin on a subject that came to mind whether it might be the current primaries for the USA presidential election, or his explanation of the periodical table for elements through a kind of sex education programme. He was always entertaining and informative. You could spend more time at his studio than all the others put together.

You can see I had a great time at the spring fling, and the hotel in Kirkcubright wasn't bad either. If you look at the Kirkcubright site, you will see that there is an Autumn crafts trail around the town.

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