Scotsman Magazine .. May 2005  

A Crafty Plan.

Explore Dumfries and Galloway through the
region's thriving network of artists.

Lizzie Farey has shown her contemporary basket work at the Victoria & Albert Museum and in New York. Will Levi Marshall lectures in ceramics all over the world. William Neal sells his paintings to some of the biggest names in the music industry. Jim Buchanan has built labyrinths in Holland, Greece and Argentina.

These very different artists have one thing in common: they all live in Dumfries and Galloway. The area boasts the highest number of artists and crafts people per capita in Scotland, many of whom exhibit and sell their work internationally.

At the end of this month the region will open the lid on its treasure-trove of talent. In Spring Fling, 96 artists - including painters, furniture makers, weavers, sculptors and ceramicists - will open their studios to the public over the three-day Bank Holiday weekend.

"Some people's perspective of what happens in a rural area is all beards and sandals, they think it's going to be quite fringey, but we wanted to show people the other side," says visual art development worker Jane McArthur. "Dumfries and Galloway isn't as well-known as it ought to be, and this is a great way to promote the region, as well as the businesses based here," she says.

Spring Fling is set up like a treasure hunt. The brochure (your indispensable guide to the weekend, with maps, descriptions of each artist's work, a price guide and artists' tips for favourite walks and restaurants) divides the region into six coloured trails. The purple route takes you along the spectacular road to Dalbeattie, focusing on wildlife artist John Threlfall, basket weaver Lizzie Farey and the Museum of Costume at Shambellie House. The yellow route journeys via seashore and pine forests, past William Neal's watercolours and Kay Ribbens's designer hats.

McArthur says: "On a basic level, it's a good day out, experiencing the landscape. This is why we have such a high quality of professional creative people, because it is such an inspiring place to live and work. We wanted to show people the inspiration, as well as what happens inside the studio."

Lizzie Farey, 42, has worked in the region for 19 years. Trained as a traditional basket-maker she has "branched out" into creating beautiful spherical and nest-shaped sculptures which have been shown at Liberty in London, at the Victoria & Albert Museum and at the Chelsea Craft Fair. "I very rarely get to meet my customers," she says. "Last year I overwhelmed by how lovely everyone was. They came from as far away as the Hebrides and Dorset. I had 300 people in my studio in three days."

Spring Fling took place all over Galloway at the end of May 2005 ...
for further details, visit