PRESS RELEASE : Spring Fling 2012 Backgrounder16th May 2012
All About Spring Fling
● The event
Spring Fling is a vibrant annual arts and crafts open studios event which takes place across Dumfries and Galloway.
● When is it on?
The main event takes place over four days from 2 to 5 June. Before then there is a Taster exhibition from 3 March to 12 April at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries which transfers to Stranraer Museum from 21 April to 19 May.
This is a great chance to see some of the high-quality arts and crafts produced in the beautiful and historic south west of Scotland. Each year dozens of artists and craft makers apply for the chance to take part. This year visitors can visit 75 studios across the region to see, and buy, an amazing variety of work. This extends from painting to textiles and woodturning to jewellery. There are also a host of other events and activities, such as lectures and tours.
● Where does it take place?
All across the region, from Sanquhar in the north to Dundrennan in the south, and Port William in the west to Langholm in the east. There are large concentrations in the area from around Thornhill, down through Dumfries and on to Kirkcudbright. For full details see the website at www.spring-fling.co.uk or order a brochure, which comes complete with map.
● 10th anniversary
This year is a special one – Spring Fling’s 10th birthday.
The taster exhibition will include some special elements to celebrate the anniversary. There will be a retrospective slide show with images from past events and a short film by Wigtown-based Picto Productions. There will also be a selection of small artworks specially commissioned from some of those who were part of earlier Spring Flings, plus a wall installation made by visitors.
● In My View
“ It’s amazing to think how far Spring Fling has come in just ten years. When we planned our first event in 2003 we had very modest aspirations and just hoped we’d get a decent number of people coming along. Now, we’ve thousands of visitors travelling to the event from all over the country every year. We aim to keep things fresh and fun and do new things every year so that we maintain the vibrancy of Spring Fling and continue to appeal to under 50s. I’m particularly excited about this year’s new activities such as our Young Artists’ Mentoring Programme; it’s wonderful to be supporting and nurturing new talent.”
Hazel Campbell, Chair of the Spring Fling Open Studios Event
● In My View
“For me, Spring Fling is an opportunity to appreciate creative people doing that most sensitive of things and sharing with us visitors their work on a personal and private level. To open your studio, and let's face it, your heart to an audience that at times must seem like a brigade of cultural Munro baggers as they zoom between Stranraer and Annan, is an incredibly brave thing to do. Although, I imagine that there are precious moments, when someone pauses to look, enquire and understand what you've made and why. These are the best moments for me, having the chance to stand and stare.”
Joan McAlpine MSP
Who are the artists? They are a remarkable and diverse group. For example Alison Proudlock was born and raised in the region, while Hope London, is a former New York lawyer. Many are highly acclaimed – for example one of Scotland’s top nature photographers Phil McMenemy. The one thing they all have in common is tremendous talent.
How many are taking part? The open studios event involves 75 studios – more than 50 of the artists and makers are women.
What kind of media do they work in? It’s a truly impressive selection. You can find mosaics, beautiful furniture, silver and gold jewellery, wonderful woodturning, glasswork, rugs, clothes and cushions, photos, prints, stone sculptures, watercolours, oil paintings and much, much more.
Can you meet the artists and craft makers? One of the big attractions is that you can meet the artists and makers and find out about their techniques, materials, inspirations and commissions. You may wish to ask Phil Howard about the food bowls he is making for a Buddhist monastery, Alison McLeod about her use of antique Chinese mother of pearl gaming chips, Hannah McAndrew about the wood-fired kiln she built by hand or Malcolm Davis (and his lurcher Cassie) about the role of dog walking in his art.
What prices do the artists charge? One of the great things about the event is that there is superb artwork to suit almost every pocket. The brochure details the range for each artist or craft maker and prices go from £1 to £10,000.
What are the studios like? They are very much part of the attraction. There are former farm buildings, a converted riverside weaving mill and a house with a huge clock tower where the bells tolls on the hour. One studio is a part of art history itself – Dungalston Farm House which was the subject of three paintings by ‘Glasgow Boy’ James Paterson.
Can any artist or craft maker take part? Dumfries and Galloway has so much talent that we have to have a selection process to decide who takes part each year. This means that visitors are always guaranteed something fresh to enjoy, and that it’s always of a high standard.
Will there be any public art? Very much so – and very exciting too. As part of our 10th birthday celebrations we have commissioned a temporary piece of public art by installation artist Alice Francis who will cover an entire cottage with floral stretch fabric – tailored so tightly that it picks out all the architectural features.
What about talks? There is a lecture series linked to the event which is called Looking In – Looking Out. This covers themes such as memory, land and sustainability and is a great chance to hear a dozen superb speakers – among them Harry Potter book cover creator Clare Melinsky. Tickets are £2.50 per lecture and take place at Glasgow University’s Solway Centre for the Environment and Culture in Dumfries. For full details see the website at www.spring-fling.co.uk.
What else is going on? The event goes beyond art - for the first time there will be a wine tasting, and there will also be lots of fun with a hog roast and ceilidh. There are also guided walks and bike rides and bus tours.
Is there an app? Yes there is. The free smartphone app will allow visitors to navigate their way round the studios – planning routes to suit their time or interests. It will provide details about the artists, including their location and discipline. The full iPhone and Android versions will be available from April – with a lite version unveiled on 2 March.
Is there a web shop? Yes, and it’s another first for 2012. The Spring Fling Online Shop will be open all year round and will sell products, such as posters, linked to the event. It will also sell original artworks by some of the Spring Fling artists and craft makers. Visitors can also use the shop to buy tickets for the Spring Fling additional events and to sign up to become a Friend. See www.spring-fling.co.uk.
Does Spring Fling help nurture new talent? This year sees the launch of the Spring Fling Young Artists Bursary Programme which provides four recent art school graduates, with links to the area, with £1,000 to create new work. The first pair will also be given professional mentoring by a Dumfries and Galloway artist.
Who are the first pair? One is Coral Beattie from Kilmarnock, a 2011 textile graduate from Glasgow School of Art who will be mentored by Morag Macpherson. The other is Sally Hogarth, who works across sculptural installation, photography and video. She studied at Goldsmiths and has an MA in fine art from Central St Martins in London. Sally spent her childhood in Dumfries and Galloway. She will be mentored by Linda Mallet. Both will have their new works shown during Spring Fling.
Who runs and supports the event? Spring Fling is a Community Interest Company. The core event is funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council. The Springboard Project is funded by The Dumfries and Galloway LEADER Programme and The Holywood Trust. And, the public art commission is funded by Creative Scotland.
Can I get involved? We have a popular Spring Fling Friends group that you can join. This offers all sorts of benefits – including substantial discounts from some of the participating artists during the event, reduced add-on event ticket prices, and discounts with local businesses.
● Fascinating facts
○ Visitor numbers have grown enormously as word about Spring Fling has spread. In 2003 an estimated 1,347 people made around 4,040 studio visits. By 2011 the numbers were close to 11,000 and 31,250 studio visits.
○ Over the years Spring Fling has attracted more than 66,500 people who between them made 194,000 studio visits.
○ Spring Fling makes a very real contribution to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway. Back in 2003 visitors were estimated to have spent £57,500 but by 2011 this had grown to £781,500. In total Spring Fling has brought nearly £4.88 million to the region. This money goes on everything from arts and crafts purchases, to meals and accommodation.
○ The event has benefited greatly from the financial support of a variety of organisations and public bodies. Back in 2003 every £1 of investment resulted in £3.39 of spending, by last year this had grown to £15.14.
○ The event is very much linked to the community, and bringing benefits to the region. One small example is that throughout the brochure there are recommendations from the artists for great places to eat, and places to see.
● Visitor information
Studio opening hours: The studios are free to visit and are open daily 10.30am to 5pm during the event. Linked events are charged separately – see the website at www.spring-fling.co.uk for details.
Taster & Retrospective Exhibitions
3 March to 12 April
Gracefield Arts Centre, 28 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries DG1 1JQ; 01387 262084
21 April to 19 May
Stranraer Museum,The Old Town Hall, George Street, Stranraer, DG9 7JP; 01776 705088
● Media information
○ Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299
○ Ellen Drummond Ferroni on 07801 820757
Free-to-use images are available from the Spring Fling website.