Press Release: Experiments in Art - Spring Fling Artists Think Outside the Box


Art made from flotsam and jetsam found on Scottish beaches and jewellery inspired by the Glasgow skyline will feature among the contemporary visual art and craft at Spring Fling.

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Linda Mallet. Photo by Colin Hattersley
Linda Mallet. Photo by Colin Hattersley

The open studios weekend will see 93 artists and makers across Dumfries and Galloway throw open their doors to the public from 27-29 May for the premier event of its kind in Scotland.

The painters, photographers, original printmakers, jewellers, textile designer, ceramicists, wood workers and others embrace everything from traditional styles and methods through to the conceptual, abstract and experimental.

Linda Mallet is a contemporary artist who scours the beaches near her home in the tiny seaside community of Kirkandrews to pick up plastic rope which has come off boats and ships and refashions it into baskets, coasters and place mats.

She says: “All my work is about the environment. There is a real litter problem, which is bad for the environment and for wildlife.

“I’m turning it on its head in a small way by picking up some of the things that other people throw away and trying to make something beautiful from them. At the same time I hope to draw people’s attention to the problem of litter and environmental damage.”

Linda is also an abstract painter who creates her own pigments from local rocks and clays – using the same techniques that artists have employed from stone age cave painters to Renaissance masters. She says: “Rather than painting the landscape I now paint with the landscape.”

Jewellery maker Ruth Laird, who is from Dumfries and Galloway currently based at the Wasps Artists’ studios at the Briggait in Glasgow, has a reputation for her unusual, chunky rings and other items often inspired by the big city skyline.

She says: “A lot of my work is inspired by the architecture and built environment of Glasgow. It’s from that space where maths meets functionality. I love experimenting with shape compositions, colour combinations and surface finishes, to create asymmetric, angular jewellery using silver, gold and spray paint.”

Another fresh perspectives comes from Mark Gibbs whose wire and fabric sculptures are often inspired by horses and soldiers of the First World War. He also creates sculptures depicting animals, and sometimes ships, that are influenced by archaeology and have the feel of ritual objects.

Painter Victor Henderson is known for his strong use of colour. His semi-abstracted paintings address many subjects – flowers in the gardens at Drumlanrig Castle through to depictions of the martyrdom of St Sebastian. A former psychotherapist, his approach is rooted in the idea that all art originates from the unconscious.

Victor’s works mainly in watercolours but his larger, more complex pieces also use collage, wax, acrylic and many are overpainted screen print or lino print aspects.
He has also been experimenting with poured inks on large hanging scrolls.

There are also:

  • Maggie Ayres who works mainly with beeswax, Damar tree resin, inks and oil colour, using the ancient art of encaustics, to produce many-layered, collaged abstract paintings on wooden panels.
  • Emily Cooper, an emerging mixed media artist who often explores ideas of feminism and femininity.
  • Silvana McLean, an artist inspired by the north and particularly Iceland. Her paintings, original prints and other works seek to embody the landscape, wildlife and culture of the island.
  • Helen Acklam, who uses mixed media to produce a variety of works including watercolour-based pieces, canvases layered with texture and colour and plaster and textiles to produce bookworks and sculpture.
  • Emma Varley produces original prints and mixed media work. Her interest is in the natural world, but more specifically in the “strata” that connects layers of landscape to the wider environment. The interrelationship between nature and place is currently inspiring a new range of work.
  • Kate Mink. Takes ephemera, found photos and creates mixed media collages, prints and encaustic paintings reflecting on memories from her childhood in Dumfries and Galloway. Her aim is to distil stories from fragments of the past and feelings from the land.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland Arts Development, which runs Spring Fling, said: “This is the 15th annual Spring Fling and it offers a huge amount for every taste and interest. One of the special things about the weekend is that people can see everything from traditional crafts and delightful landscape paintings through to the cutting edge, contemporary and experimental. And it all takes place in one of Scotland’s most beautiful regions.”