Thanks very much to Richard Cullen for opening his Beautiful home for the pop-up gallery and for providing this guest post. His talent for showing such a wide range of artworks in a limited space are second to none.
Why we did it?
Well it’s been just over two weeks since we closed our first Wigtown Festival pop up gallery and we have packed away the exhibitions and moved the furniture back to its rightful places. And after all that was done we lay down in darkened rooms and recovered.
So now we have had a chance to reflect on our experience what are our thoughts? Many people who visited us said how brave we were to open up our home to the public and asked why we had done so? The glib answer on the day was that it seemed like a good idea at the time followed by a nervous laugh! And yes it did seem a good idea three weeks before the festival when on the spur of the moment Tim and Lou and I agreed that’s what we’d do but giving the question more thought why did we do it?
Well for me it was to help Tim and Lou in their quest to gain wider recognition for the enormous levels of talent and creativity that exist in the Machar’s peninsula. Much is made of the creative talents that exist in the east of the Dumfries and Galloway area; as is natural given the location of Scotland’s art town – Kirkcudbright. But as you move west to the Machar’s the opportunities for creative people to show their work declines. And it is this imbalance that Tim and Lou are trying to address in their work on the Creative Whithorn project – it is through their strongly held belief that creativity can bring benefits to an area not only an economic benefit but also through the increased sense of place that creativity brings.
In this, the first year of Creative Whithorn Tim and Lou have brought a sense of energy and positivity to this project. Working unfunded and in their own time to help bring together artists and creative individuals into a coherent whole working to promote not just their own work but the work of the region. For me watching their efforts it reminded me that success in these endeavours is not all about getting that grant of funding or filling in the right forms which it seems so many people in the creative sector now obsess about but it is the personal belief and sense of greater good that is required to drive forward and succeed. So I was delighted to have the chance to bring their work and the work of the exhibiting artists to the wider audience at the Wigtown Festival.
For Tim and Lou the opportunity to show the level of talent and skill that exist in the Machars within the creative sector was key to the decision to open the pop up. To show not only the wider public this, but to also affirm to the artists that their work is worthy of public display and is in demand by the public. Too often when you are creating on your own in your attic or the garden shed you are prone to question the quality of your work and to dismiss it as not worthy of public attention – choosing to create can be a lonely path! And the pop up showed our artists that they are not alone and that the demand for their work is certainly there.
Anyway enough of this introspection, perhaps it is easier to simply say it seemed like a good idea at the time……
So what are our memories of the ten days of pop up? Well alot has blurred into one as I suspect it has for many who were involved in the festival. But some moments stand out – for Lou I sure that one that will bring a chuckle when called to mind is my frantic bashing of the till (that was kindly leant to us by our friends in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society) on our first day when it decided to lock itself for no apparent reason and I spent ten minutes bashing every key with frustration – I never have been very patient with machines that don’t work first time! Or more seriously it might be the lovely couple from Ayr who bought Lou’s Hiaku print ‘Night Jewels’ because it had hit some emotional point within and brought tears to her eyes – for an artist can there be a better affirmation of their work than to stir the emotions of the viewer?
For me it was the kind comments about the house and the interest shown in its slow restoration or maybe the man from London who bought Lynn Morley’s stained glass ‘Galloway Hills’ who said that it would remind him of the beauty of the region once home in central London.
Or for both of us the enthusiasm for the work on display by so many of our visitors and the surprising number of visitors who asked could we double wrap their purchase as they were getting 3 buses, two trains and a taxi back to London or Edinburgh or Manchester – living here the thought of travelling such distances by public transport is in our minds a well neigh impossible task and showed that these festival goers are a hardy bunch.
Or maybe it was just the overall feeling of Wigtown being en fete with its normally sleepy square being full of marquees and happy festival goers – it was funny to see how on their first days they rushed from event to event and then after sometime here the peace of the Machars seemed to overcome them and their paced slowed and they relaxed into the laid back vibe of the festival.
We will be back!
So would we do it all again? It is a question we have been asked many times since we closed. Was all the effort of furniture moving and exhibition hanging and manning the pop up for ten days worth it? The simple answer is Yes. All the effort, all the late nights, all the long hours was indeed worth it on so many levels that we are already planning the next pop up – after all why should such fun be restricted to ten days of the year?