PRESS RELEASE : Spring Fling Artist Transforms a Cottage into a Sofa8th May 2012
Arts Festival Surprise for Diamond Jubilee Weekend
Artist Alice Francis loves to surprise, amuse and question convention – she is about to wrap the entire outside of a traditional Galloway cottage in floral stretch fabric.
The temporary piece of public art has been commissioned as part of the region’s highly successful annual Spring Fling open studios arts and crafts event.
Alice was chosen by the organisers because of her unfailing talent for producing entertaining and thought-provoking work. In the past she has taken part in some delightful pieces of performance, including one where she dressed as a pink rabbit and vacuum cleaned local woodlands, in a gentle send-up of domesticity. In another she quietly travelled through the Dumfries and Galloway countryside polishing the white lines in the middle of the roads.
Alice says: “I want to encourage people to question appearances, and perhaps to shake off some of the conventions that we all get stuck with. People have a limitless capacity for expression, fun and communication-but in Britain we tend to be very restrained in what we feel we can and can’t do.”
Her new work, called Couch, will be created on 31 May and will be up from the duration of Spring Fling which takes place over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee long weekend from 2-5 June. The artist will be on site some of the time so passers-by can stop and chat about the creation - if they can see her. Another part of the project will be to make herself a trouser suit out of the same material, meaning she could all but vanish from view.
Alice says: “I really enjoy taking everyday things and putting them together in an unexpected way. The cottage is a lovely, traditional place and the fabric is just the kind of thing your gran might have upholstered her sofa with. But taking something that would normally be on the inside, and putting it on the outside, turns the unremarkable into something very unusual.
“By turning a building into what is essentially a giant sofa, the artwork flouts our expectations of the conventional, in terms of the conserved traditional environment. It inverts the status quo. When viewed from a passing car, the artwork will provide a humorous snapshot scene that overturns conventions of rural life, amidst the rolling hills of a typical Galloway landscape.
‘I’d love to hear what people think. I hope they will see it as something that’s really joyful. What I always want to do is encourage people to question appearances, and perhaps to shake off some of the conventions that we all get stuck with. People have a limitless capacity for expression, fun and communication – but in Britain we tend to be very restrained in what we feel we can and can’t do,’ says Alice.
This year (which is also the Year of Creative Scotland) Spring Fling is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the organisers are determined to make it more unusual than ever.
Hazel Campbell, who chairs Spring Fling, says: ‘For our 10th birthday we wanted to commission some public art for everyone to enjoy. What Alice is creating is a really eye-catching way to highlight Spring Fling and the huge amount of artistic talent there is in Dumfries and Galloway.’
It is hoped that Couch will also encourage people to take time to enjoy some of the area’s fabulous countryside. The cottage being used is on the B736, three miles south east of Castle Douglas, close to the parking area for Doach Woods, a forest dominated by Douglas Firs, which has two walks and fantastic views across the Solway Firth.
Alice is currently preparing the 400m of 1.5m wide material, purchased from loose cover and reupholstery specialists Plumbs. The family-run business are keen to be involved in the project, offering Alice the use of their factory in Preston and assisting with cutting and sewing of the material.
Plumbs’ Production Manager, Christine Breakall shares her reaction to the task: ‘As a company who pride ourselves on being able to cover and re-upholster almost anything, we often receive some quite elaborate and wonderful furniture. A house on the other hand is something we have never attempted.’
‘We are all very excited to be part of what Alice is doing, and look forward to seeing the end result and public reaction.’
The Couch project has been made possible thanks to funding from Creative Scotland.
Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, said; 'Spring Fling opens the doors on the creative sector across Dumfries and Galloway and is a unique chance to explore behind the scenes of artists' work. Alice Francis' cottage is a spectacular addition to the programme and, for this Year of Creative Scotland, a great example of attracting visitors to the country's creative places.'
As a visual and performance artist, Alice is well-known as the creator of The People’s Palace, which is a caravan transformed into a travelling cinema, featuring fixtures and fittings from a demolished 1920s picture house in Castle Douglas. In the summer she sometimes takes The People’s Palace to music festivals and transforms it into an offbeat cabaret, featuring avant-garde circus acts.
About Spring Fling
• Spring Fling runs from Saturday 2 June to Tuesday 5 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 www.spring-fling.co.uk .
• Established for over 50 years, Plumbs offer a free in home consultation service with over 150 Consultants across the UK.
• Their products include made-to-measure loose furniture covers, reupholstery, curtains and blinds.
• Alice is using just one of their 350 fabrics which come in a range of colours, styles and designs.
• For further information about Plumbs, visit the website: www.plumbs.co.uk.
About Creative Scotland
• Creative Scotland is the national development agency for the arts, screen and creative industries.
• Its vision is that Scotland will be recognised as one of the world’s most creative nations – one that attracts, develops and retains talent, where the arts and the creative industries are supported and celebrated and their economic contribution fully captured; a nation where the arts and creativity play a central part in the lives, education and well-being of our population.
• The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and is a chance to showcase, celebrate and promote Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland.
• More information about the programme can be found at: www.visitscotland.com/creative.
• The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.
• Free-to-use pictures of Alice (which should be credited to Colin Tennant) are available at:
• 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.
• Other free-to-use images are available from the Spring Fling website.