PRESS RELEASE : Londoners live the dream and find success as artists in Scotland

3rd May 2012

Premier arts and crafts event offers the chance to enjoy a taste of rural beauty during the Diamond Jubilee celebration weekend

Five London artists are among the select group to have been chosen to take part in Spring Fling – Scotland’s premier arts and craft open studios event. All have followed their dreams to live in one of the most beautiful and inspirational areas of Scotland – where all have earned excellent reputations for the high quality of their work.

Angela Lawrence, Phil McMenemy, Kate Anderson, Amanda Simmons and Natalie Vardey are among those who have chosen to leave the capital for a very different lifestyle north of the border. Dumfries and Galloway, in south-west Scotland, is renowned as a hotbed of creative talent and each year many of its best artists and crafts makers go through a rigorous selection process in the hope of being chosen to be part of the annual Spring Fling event.

Angela Lawrence, whose paintings are inspired by the hills and coastlines of Dumfries and Galloway, was originally from London. She spent 20 years in Finland and was a violinist with a Finnish state symphony orchestra, but settled in Scotland in 2004. Since then her career as a painter has really taken off. During Spring Fling she will be showing some of her new ‘Sea Spirit’ body of work, which she received a Creative Arts Scotland and D&G Visual Arts Award to pursue.

She said: ‘This region has fantastic landscapes, amazing skies and changeable weather which are great inspirations for me. I think people here are generally very interested and receptive to art, and there’s a pace of life that accommodates this too. There is good support from the regional arts centre and a feeling of being part a big community of artists that is really encouraging.”

Phil McMenemy was a child mental health nurse in London before moving to Dumfries and Galloway after his partner got a job in the region as a doctor. The move has certainly paid dividends as he was named Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year (Abstract) in 2010. His studio is a former stables, once home to horses which hauled timber in the nearby forests.

Speaking about Dumfries and Galloway - which is one of Scotland’s most beautiful regions, is within easy reach of many parts of England, and a popular destination for those in search of superb countryside, artistic excellence and warm hospitality - Phil said: “I love all of it – the contrasting landscapes, the seascapes, the air, the space, the smell and the feeling. The changing seasons are all very special; there are hidden, quiet places as well as lots of bustling highly-individual market towns, there's really somewhere for everyone in Galloway - come and see. Galloway has so many different moods and changing faces.”

Kate Anderson first worked as an Art Instructor in a girls’ Grammar School in London and was awarded a Post-Graduate Scholarship for Sculpture in India in the early 1980s. She has shown painting and sculpture in exhibitions in and around London as well as in France, India, and America, has taught painting and mosaics in London, Cumbria and Scotland, and written research articles on mosaic art.

Kate’s work ranges from small mosaics to spectacular two-metre screens and large wall hangings. It reflects a fascination with ancient symbolism, and motifs like moons, ladders and towers which are infused in many world cultures. Spring Fling visitors (who, during the event, can book one of Kate’s courses at a special discount ) will see the tools and materials she uses such as glass, marble, fiber glass and gold leaf, and be able to chat to her about pieces she has made, such as the screen – currently on show in an exhibition in Norwich - telling the story of Jacob’s Ladder for Lichfield Cathedral’s celebrations of the King James Bible’s 400th anniversary.

Amanda Simmons previously ran a studio from ACME in Deptford. She was also a BT apprentice, clambering up and down phone poles, and was later a clinical perfusionist – running the heart-lung machines that stand in for patients’ vital organs during certain major surgery. Amanda has worked with glass for the past ten years, studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Glass & Architecture at Central St Martin’s School of Art & Design in London before relocating to Dumfries and Galloway in 2005. She now lives in a former village shop and has a studio at the top of her garden. She says: “I have the perfect commute to work each morning.” Making beautiful kiln formed and cameo engraved glass, Amanda’s work involves firing, coldworking – using diamond tools to shape and smooth – and sandblasting. Inspired by the rugged hills of the region, she also draws on themes from her biomedical sciences past life. 

A past winner of the Gold Award for Innovation, Creativity and Potential To Export at Origin, Amanda recently became a member of Contemporary Applied Arts in London and has just returned from a research trip, funded by the Crafts Council and UK Trade & Investment, to investigate the applied arts market in the USA. She has also been selected to become the Creative Business Advisor (for Crafts) by Dumfries and Galloway Council, to stimulate, strengthen and support the creative industries sector across the region.

Natalie Vardey lived near Putney Bridge and trained as a jeweller before heading north. Prior to moving to Dumfries and Galloway, she lived on the isle of Eigg for 11 years in a house with no electricity. Nowadays she makes exquisitely delicate jewellery – many pieces are miniature crochet in pure silver.

The things she values about Dumfries and Galloway include: “A broad and well-supported artistic community, and sense of belonging. There’s the beautiful countryside, the silence, the empty roads, the sheep, cattle and birdlife, the clear, dark, dark night skies, the clear water and the lichen-laden trees.”

Natalie’s commissions are varied and she gets great pleasure out of creating jewellery of great personal meaning to customers. These have included a ring for a widower, made from some of his wife’s jewellery. In 2005 Natalie also made the wedding rings exchanged by a couple on the first day that civil partnerships became legal.

Another artist involved in Spring Fling, but still living in London is Sally Hogarth, a fine artist working across sculptural installation, photography and video. A descendant of William Hogarth, Sally studied Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths College.

Over the past twelve months, she has exhibited in London, New York, Berlin and Santander. Sally has also received exhibition funding from Ideas Tap, The Isle of Man Arts Council and The John Nicholson Foundation and last year, out of 400 applicants, she received a six month ‘Big Idea Award’ selected by Kevin Spacey. 

Sally – who will show her work at Spring Fling - is taking part in the event’s Young Artists Mentoring Programme, which involves young artists from outwith Dumfries and Galloway being mentored by artists living and working in the region. Linda Mallett, who divides her time between studio practice and collaborative work in the public art field, both as an artist and project manager, is mentoring Sally for the project. 

Spring Fling runs from 2-5 June and is ideal for taking a break for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee holiday. This is the festival’s 10th birthday and there is a huge amount to see and do – with art and crafts that range from painting, pottery and photography through to jewellery, textiles and glassware. Visitors are expected from all over the UK and overseas.

Leah Black, Spring Fling Manager, said: ‘There’s a huge amount of arts and crafts talent in this region. Much of it is home-grown, but there are also many artists and crafts makers who arrive from places like London in search of a different lifestyle.

‘The region is very beautiful and the pace of life is ideal – but just as important is that there are great networks in the arts and crafts community, so people really support and encourage each other.

‘This year’s Spring Fling will be very special as it’s our 10th birthday and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from all over the country. The quality of arts and crafts will be higher than ever, and it is a fantastic opportunity to meet and chat to exceptionally talented people like Angela, Phil, Kate, Amanda and Natalie. At the same time visitors can have a really enjoyable break in a region which has pretty towns and villages, great places to stay and to eat, and some of Britain’s loveliest countryside.’


About Spring Fling

• Spring Fling – which has been shortlisted for Best Cultural Event in the prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards 2012 - runs from Saturday 2nd June to Tuesday 5th June.

• Some 76 artists and craft makers are taking part and visitors will be able to see, and buy, a diverse range of outstanding items spanning painting and photography, jewellery and textiles, glass, ceramics and furniture

• All of the studios taking part open daily from 10.30am to 5pm and free to visit.

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

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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.