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Friday, January 3, 2014

DG|Out - Spring Fling is taking on the world

Here's one from the Spring Fling team, as they continue to grow and flourish - Spring Fling artists are heading out en masse bringing a flavour of creative D&G with them  as part of the new DG|Out series.
Three exhibitions in early 2014 will help raise awareness of Dumfries and Galloway as a centre of Scottish creative excellence.
The D&G|OUT series underlines how artists and makers find it increasingly possible to develop national and international careers from a rural rather than an urban base.
Among them are Glaswegian textile and wallpaper designer Morag Macpherson and London glassmaker Amanda Simmons – both left big city life behind to establish thriving businesses in D&G.
The Glasgow, Newcastle and London exhibitions are being organised by Spring Fling, which is best-known for running Scotland’s premier open studios event.
D&G|OUT will showcase high-quality, printmaking, textiles, jewellery, glass and ceramics by artists and makers living in, or with strong connections to, Dumfries and Galloway.
The sparsely populated region has suffered a severe decline in traditional industries but has a large, successful and increasingly confident creative sector.
Leah Black, Spring Fling Director, said: “In the past Spring Fling’s emphasis has been on bringing people into the region to see its visual art and craft. In 2014 we will also be taking our art and craft out to the people of Glasgow, Newcastle and London.
“This reflects the growing recognition that the artists and makers of Dumfries and Galloway are among the best in the country and that the region is a centre of Scottish creative excellence.
“Creative people are finding that they no longer need to base themselves in cities. They can develop a successful career or business in a tranquil and beautiful area like ours, which offers a superb quality of life.
“These exhibitions will really prove the point – with a fantastic range of textiles, jewellery, prints, glass and ceramics by people who are living and working in D&G. They are one of the valuable ways in which Spring Fling is supporting the arts and economy in south-west Scotland.”
Over the last 11 years the Spring Fling open studios event has earned an estimated £7,100,000 for the regional economy – bringing in around £1 million in 2013.
Amanda, based near Castle Douglas (population 4,000), said: "Moving from London nine years ago was a big decision as I was also leaving my science job and going full time as a glass maker. I’ve never regretted coming here and feel I wouldn't have had such a brilliant first few years of my glass career if I'd stayed. 
“Obviously modern technology helps a lot in keeping in touch with the wider contemporary craft scene and the use of social media means your practice can be anywhere. I appreciate the peace and space to create work in my shed in the garden and send it out to my galleries across the country and abroad.
“Spring Fling has been a great help to establish my studio locally but also to a wider audience that come to visit each spring, these benefits lasting all year round.
“I have two big shows next year with my main galleries in London but I can still get down easily by train in a day for meetings and escape back to the lush green landscape without disrupting the glass making."
While London has a population of well over 8 million and Glasgow around 600,000 there are just 150,000 people in D&G – a region which covers 2,400 square miles, or 8% of Scotland. That amounts to 60 people per square mile compared to a UK figure of 650.
However, internet working and increasing use of social media, combined with regular shows in New York and elsewhere, allow Morag Macpherson to capitalise on her reputation as an exciting and innovative designer.
She moved to Kirkcudbright (population 3,400) three years ago after popping in to look at a studio that was available while on a family holiday.
“When I moved here it was just as a break, I could go back any time, but I loved it. The artistic heritage of Kirkcudbright means a lot to me and is reflected in my work. And most of the people I know down here are involved in the arts, it’s an incredibly creative area.
“A lot of doors have opened for me in Dumfries and Galloway and I just keep on going through them. The internet makes all sorts of things possible, like my online shop, and I’m starting to do more social media.”
Anyone interested in seeing Morag’s work can visit the online shop at or pop into ABC Carpet and Home in New York, Contemporary Applied Arts in London, The Shop of Interest in Glasgow or the Left Bank Gallery Kirkcudbright.
Amanda’s glass can be found in places such as Contemporary Applied Arts in London, London Glassblowing and Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh, or online
Both are featured artists in the first of the D&G|OUT Spring Fling exhibitions, which is at the Lighthouse in Glasgow in January.

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