PRESS RELEASE: A Sprinkle of Harry Potter Magic

23rd April 2012


23 APRIL 2012

Spring Fling Gets a Sprinkle of the Harry Potter Magic

Artist who created the boy wizard book covers joins arts event speakers

Clare Melinsky, who recently completed a new set of covers for the Harry Potter series, joins the sparkling line-up delivering Spring Fling’s Looking In – Looking Out lecture series.

The talks are being given by artists and crafts makers with strong links to Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow and Cumbria.

For this week’s, on Wednesday 25 April, the subject will be Land, focusing on how the landscape plays an integral part of the artistic process. Speakers will discuss how the land provides a starting point for creating artwork. They include Spring Fling artists Angela Lawrence, Ross Fulton, Jeremy Carlisle and Silvana McLean. Guest speakers will be Dr Paul Scott, Artist and Lecturer at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and Dr Jan Hogarth of Wide Open, Dumfries and Galloway.

Next up, on Wednesday 2 May, is a lecture on Sustainability, exploring sustainable working and the importance of building links outwith the region. Textile designer Morag Macpherson, visual artist Hope London, illustrator Clare Melinsky and glass artist (and Saatchi Gallery exhibitor) Amanda Simmons will be the Spring Fling artist speakers. The guest speakers are Emma Walker of Edinburgh-based CraftScotland, Hannah Stewart of Freerange Artists in Cumbria and artist Justin Carter from Glasgow School of Art.

Clare said: ‘Before this I hadn’t really thought about sustainability in connection to my work but actually my whole practice is very sustainable. I work from home, I don’t commute. I have an agent in London who represents me so I don’t need to travel. And I use materials which are sustainable: my lino cuts are made in Scotland; they come from Kirkcaldy and are environmentally-friendly.’

It was the London agent who initially told Clare that she might be chosen to do the Harry Potter covers.

‘I was really excited. The publishers contacted my agent initially and I had to three sample covers or pilots. I then heard in that they wanted me to go ahead with the series. The covers launch was in March 2010 and then the books were published in November 2010.

‘I hadn’t actually read any of the books when I was asked to do the covers so I quickly got them and read them. I don’t really have a favourite cover; if I had to pick one though, I suppose it might be The Prisoner of Azkaban with its white stag.’

Clare is also a big supporter of Spring Fling. As well as doing the lecture, she is also one of the artists whom visitors to the open arts and crafts event on 2 – 5 June will be able see at work in a studio.

She said: ‘I’ve always been a big fan of the event. It got off on a very good footing and it’s maintained its momentum and gone from strength to strength over the past 10 years. The standard of work is very high; I think the selection process the artists and makers have to go through is crucial to maintain that.

‘People locally are very interested in Spring Fling and very supportive of it. They are proud they’ve got such a thriving creative community in the region.

‘I’ve been involved in Spring Fling right from the start; I took part in the first four although I haven’t done it for the last four years for a variety of reasons. It’ll be fun to do it again after the break. I work from home, but for the event, I’ll be sharing a studio with Jane Blair. That’s nice for me, we can be supportive of one another, and I think it’s nice for visitors too because they’ve got two different types of work to see in one place.

‘I enjoy meeting visitors at Spring Fling; it’s good for me to have that opportunity and they always ask interesting questions. I’ve always had good sales too at the event. That’s probably helped by the fact that my prints are very affordable – normally between £25 and £50 – and they’re also quite small so people know they can take them away easily.’

Hope London, who is also giving a lecture (as well as opening her studio over the Jubilee holiday), has an equally fascinating background – trained as a lawyer in New York, she has used her expertise to create the graphic novel ‘M. Contraband Esq., Punk Lawyer’ as a medium for expressing ideas on copyright and contract laws.

With tickets costing only £2.50 per lecture, the events will be held from 6pm to 7.30pm in the University of Glasgow’s Dumfries campus at the Rutherford McCowan Building on Bankhead Road.

The evenings will have a Pecha Kucha 20 x 20 format (with each of the speakers showing 20 images and speaking for 20 seconds on each) followed by a question and answer session. Dr Valentina Bold of The University of Glasgow’s Dumfries Campus will lead the speakers.

Dr Bold, Director of the University's Solway Centre for Environment and Culture, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Spring Fling to present these exciting new lectures. ‘Looking In – Looking Out’ will provide a rare opportunity to hear directly from a wonderfully talented group of local artists and makers as well as some exceptional guests from the wider world of arts. It’s a chance to hear their personal perspective on their work and what inspires their creativity.”

Spring Fling is a Community Interest Company. The core event is funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council. The Springboard Project, which the ‘Looking In – Looking Out’ lecture series is part of, is funded by The Dumfries and Galloway LEADER Programme and The Holywood Trust. And the public art project is funded by Creative Scotland.

Spring Fling Chair Hazel Campbell commented: “Last year’s Spring Fling lecture series proved extremely popular and I’m sure ‘Looking In – Looking Out’ will be an even bigger hit. This year - the Year of Creative Scotland – Spring Fling celebrates its 10th birthday so everything has been planned to make it our best yet. We’re extending it to four days – 2 to 5 June – and we’ve a full programme with the core open studios trail, a magical mystery tour, bike rides and guided walks, a ceilidh and hog roast, and a wine tasting event. Other highlights are a young artists’ mentoring programme and a wonderfully quirky art installation involving a traditional cottage being wrapped in fabric. It’s definitely an event not to be missed!”

Tickets for the lectures can be booked in three ways - by contacting Phillipa McNeill of the University of Glasgow on 01387 702 131 or, through the Spring Fling webshop at www.spring-fling/shop or Spring Fling’s Eventbrite page:


Notes to Editors

• A preview of Spring Fling 2012 and the outstanding talent of its 76 artists, the event will showcase is currently being provided at the Taster Exhibition at Stranraer Museum from 21 April to 19 May 

• Running alongside the Taster - to commemorate Spring Fling’s 10th birthday - is a Retrospective Exhibition celebrating the success of the festival and the number of visitors who have supported it through the past decade. The Retrospective features a newly commissioned film by Picto Productions which conveys the elements key to the event’s popularity – the region’s great richness of artistic and creative talent combined with its stunning scenery. Visitors are invited to decorate a ‘Memory Wall’ by noting their memories on paper people. Artists and makers who have participated in previous Spring Flings have also submitted pieces of work made specifically for the Retrospective.

• A total of 76 artists, makers and designers are taking part in this year’s festival. The diverse range of outstanding works visitors will see in their studios during Spring Fling 2012 spans painting and photography, jewellery and textiles, glass, ceramics and furniture.

• Spring Fling 2012’s attractive brochure, with lively cover artwork by illustrator Lesley Barnes, is available in a first for Spring Fling - its new Smartphone app. Available on iPhone and Android platforms, this has been created to help visitors navigate studios, route-plan their event days out based on studio locations or artists’ disciplines, as well as access drop-down data on artists. It also enables searches for local attractions recommended by Spring Fling artists and signing up as a Friend of Spring Fling. The app – the full version of which will be available to download in April - has also been designed as a year-round guide to the hottest artists, makers and designers connected to Spring Fling and it will display Spring Fling Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as those of its artists.

• For full details of the programme and the artists, makers and designers taking part, see the website at



Media information

• For enquiries, interviews etc. contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or Ellen Drummond Ferroni on 07801 820757

• A backgrounder with additional details on Spring Fling accompanies this release.

• Free-to-use images are available from the Spring Fling website.