Press Release: Upland and MAKLab


Upland and MAKLab Open High-Tech Studio to Unleash Creativity

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Photograph by Colin Hattersley
Photograph by Colin Hattersley

Top technology for artists, designers and makers – plus textiles tuition from the costume maker who dressed Beyonce

 A hi-tech digital fabrication studio is being launched in Dumfries – opening up a new world of opportunities for designers, artists and craft makers of all ages.

MAKLab gives easy access to advanced digital technology like 3D printers and laser cutters, enabling people to make everything from intricate jewellery, to furniture and sculpture – or create prototypes for commercial products.

It will also provide exciting free programmes for young people – plus the chance to learn about textile design from a costume maker who has helped dress some of the world’s biggest stars.

The studio, at Unit 10, The Loreburne Shopping Centre, High Street, Dumfries, is a joint initiative by the Glasgow-based MAKLab network and Upland CIC – Dumfries and Galloway’s new organisation to support, nurture and train artists, makers and designers.

Clare Hanna, Director of Upland, said: “Having a MAKLab in Dumfries is a huge leap forward, giving artists, makers, designers and young people the chance to use the latest disruptive technologies to create amazing artworks and products.

“Up to now this kind of centre, and this type of equipment, has often only been available in major cities. It’s a real coup to bring all this to a rural area like Dumfries and Galloway – it has the power to transform what people in the region can design and make.

“We have already had young people in to try out the equipment and the results have been brilliant, really firing their imaginations.”

The MAKLab will also be a centre for textile work. Tuition will be available from Iona Barker, originally from Castle Douglas, who is a successful costume designer who has worked on costumes for world class performing artists including Beyonce, Prince and Lady Gaga.

Iona, who went to Castle Douglas High School and art college in Dumfries, will be creating textiles courses and doing some tuition in Dumfries and is really looking forward to passing on her skills.

She said: “As head of wardrobe at the SECC I had some wonderful opportunities – creating dresses for Beyonce and her dancers, making sure Katy Perry had enough rhinestones and creating ruffles for Prince.

“Now I really enjoy teaching and am very much looking forward to helping people in Dumfries and Galloway learn to use our digital technology. There’s a huge amount already going on there, and all across Scotland, and I believe we can be at the forefront of textiles if people have the right skills and equipment.”

The Dumfries MAKLab is opening on a pilot basis for three days a week and members of the public are encouraged to drop in for a look around.

Richard Clifford, Executive Director, said: “When Upland invited us to look at Dumfries we were really impressed by the creativity down here and what could be achieved if people had access to the equipment and expertise we can offer.

“This will give people the tools and the knowledge to really unleash their creative potential.

“We want this to be a place which everyone of any age or level of expertise can use, whether they are trying to pick up new skills, experimenting with ideas and materials, or producing art, craft or commercial products.”

People with business ideas are among those who could benefit most from MAKLab as they can create products at low cost, and with expert help, without having to invest in equipment such as 3D printers, which can cost anything from around £2,000-£20,000.

Likewise it’s perfect for established artists, craft makers and designers wanting to try new ideas or branch out in a different direction.

The studio is also for those who simply want to make things for their own pleasure, perhaps making models, dressmaking or digital embroidery.

Members of the Dumfries workshop will have access to MAKLab equipment and expertise elsewhere in Scotland. They can even carry out substantial manufacturing work – for example producing furniture or even pre-fabricated buildings like pavilions.

The equipment is so sophisticated that it can be used for incredibly complex projects. The Glasgow centre has helped make individually tailored bionic hands.

The Dumfries initiative is supported by a range of funders. It has been granted £25,200 from CashBack for Creativity, a Scottish Government scheme to reinvest the proceeds of crime back into communities.

Amy Marletta, Upland’s Professional and Talent Development Manager, said: “The Cashback funding, along with support from the Holywood Trust and the Big Lottery, will let us run free workshops for schools and young people.

“One of the really exciting things we want to do is break down barriers and get young people in to have fun while they learn.”

The programme for young people of 15-25 is still under development. It is hoped that it will inspire them to get more involved in creative activities and perhaps even consider a future in art, craft or design.

Leonie Bell, Director, Arts and Engagement, Creative Scotland, said: “This is an exciting moment for Upland as they embark on this digital technology initiative for young people from all across Dumfries and Galloway. 

“It’s equally exciting for the CashBack for Creativity programme to be supporting this initiative in order that all young people in the area can access this new facility and engage in a free programme of creative learning with some of the latest high tech digital technology. 

“Enabling young people in rural areas to access this kind of facility has huge potential to inspire and progress a young person’s future and I look forward to following the programme over the coming months.”