A Spring Fling artist is painting 16 one-foot square portraits before cutting up her subjects, cooking them and writing a recipe booklet.

Hope London, from Wigtown, will exhibit her pictures of fruit, vegetables and herbs at the Shoots and Leaves vegetarian and vegan café during the annual open studios weekend from 25 to 27 May.

Her aim is to encourage people to take an interest in growing and cooking their own high quality and tasty foods. 

The project is called 16 Square Feet– after the work of Mel Bartholomew which showed that it only takes a small area of soil to grow enough to feed a human.  

Hope, who was a gallery director in Manchester and a lawyer in her native USA before coming to Scotland, said:“It’s really been fun going into shops and looking round friends’ gardens to find fruit and vegetables of character for these portraits.  There have been bunches of dirty carrots, onions of all colours, turnips, pumpkins and sprouts. The carrots ended up as a lovely soup.

“I’m not a vegetarian myself, but it’s been a wonderful experience to try out all sorts of new recipes and to write them down for other people to enjoy. I think it’s really valuable for us to think about where our food comes from, about issues like sustainability, and about how we can grow some of our own food. 

“The project has even inspired me to try gardening again – even though the last time I tried it the slugs ate my carrots and they turned iridescent orange, which was an interesting phenomenon but discouraging.

“On a conceptual level, I wanted to create a bold, physical representation of 16 square feet so people can see what can be achieved in such a small space.”

Visitors can drop into Hope’s workshop (which is close to the café) to see her other artwork and also check out how her latest attempt at gardening is faring.

Hope (Studio 07) is on the Spring Fling Blue Route, which has around 15 studios from the Mull of Galloway, at the southernmost tip of Scotland, up to Glentrool in the Galloway Dark Sky Park.

This year Spring Fling sees 94 specially selected studios throw open their doors to the public.

It’s a chance to meet painters, original printmakers, jewellers, glassmakers, wood and metal workers and photographers in the cottages, farms, galleries, mills, converted churches and other places where they work and live.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: “Hope is just one example of the many imaginative, unusual and inspiring visual artists and craft makers in every part of Dumfries and Galloway who are taking part in Spring Fling.

“There’s a huge amount to see and do – and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy a bank holiday break in Dumfries and Galloway.”

  • See below for one of Hope’s recipes – and there is also a portrait of the carrots and ginger that went in the pot.


Notes for editors 

Hope’s Carrot and Ginger Soup

Main Ingredients

Carrots – about a kilo / 2.2lbs of the best carrots you can find. Mine came from a local farm shop in rural Scotland near Stranraer, an old-fashioned place where you leave money for your purchases in an honesty box. They even have a box to give yourself change, seriously.  

Vegetable stock – Start with 2 litres / 2 US quarts of stock, either your own or made up from stock cubes or bouillon powder. Keep extra on hand to add if you want to thin the soup. If using salted stock, no extra salt should be needed but it’s up to you.

Ginger – fresh if possible, 2-4 tbsp grated or chopped, depending on how hot you like it. Use ginger gingerly, it’s powerful stuff.

Onions – 2-3 medium or one big one, red, white or otherwise

Garlic – 4 big cloves

Pepper – ground, to taste

Light olive oil or rapeseed oil for frying – 2 tbsp

Nutmeg – grated if fresh, powdered is fine.  Like the ginger, it’s strong and you don’t want to overdo it unless you are a nutmeg fanatic. Add a teaspoon maximum, then more if desired.

Turmeric – a teaspoon or more to taste, fresh or ground.  It’s orange like the carrots and it’s good for you.

A bunch of optional extras 

Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans in the States) – as much or little as you like, either cooked from dried chickpeas, or tinned/canned.  If you want this to be a meal on its own use two tins (about a US pint).

Squeeze an orange or two into the pot for added sweetness.

Serve with cream, plain yogurt or vegan substitute for added mellowness.


Peel and chop the carrots into small chunks.  The smaller the chunks, the less cooking time.  

Peel ginger, grate it or chop into tiny pieces.

Put the stock in a very large pot or pan with a lid, and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots to the stock, cover and turn down the heat a bit. I keep it on a rolling boil if in a hurry, or a slower simmer if cooking on a wood stove or range. You could use an electric slow cooker if you prefer.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and lightly fry the garlic, ginger and onions.  Add to the stock mixture.  

Add the rest of the spices (pepper, nutmeg, turmeric).

Add some options if you like – orange juice, dash of cayenne.

Cover and cook until the carrots are soft enough to mash easily, around an hour with large fresh carrots, but check as you go along.

Mash thoroughly or puree with a hand blender.

Add chickpeas and reheat. 


Spring Fling

  • Spring Fling is Scotland’s premier visual art and contemporary craft open studios event covering all Dumfries and Galloway, South West Scotland. It is the flagship annual event of Upland CIC.
  • Last year 99% of visitors described their Spring Fling experience as excellent or good.
  • The studios welcomed over 31,000 unique studio visits during the three-day event in 2018.
  • More than half (56%) of visitors came from outwith the region – underlying its value to the cultural tourism industry.
  • Together they generated £1.2 million for the regional economy.
  • For further details on Spring Fling please visit www.spring-fling.co.ukor contact the team on info@spring-fling.co.uk
  • This year, a new joint marketing partnership with Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival will be launched. More information to follow.

About Upland

Upland CIC (Community Interest Company) supports artists and makers based in, and with connections to, the region. It will delivers, events, training, networking, support and opportunities as part of a year-round programme to benefit the region, its artists, communities and economy. Upland CIC runs the annual Spring Fling contemporary visual art and craft open studios weekend in Dumfries and Galloway. It will work closely with other arts bodies in the region to further-strengthen the sector. Upland is based at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries andexists to:

  • produce and deliver festivals, events, and experimental projects of the highest quality
  • nurture an environment where artistic excellence thrives and grows
  • inspire and educate a wide range of audiences, customers and clients to understand, celebrate, be actively engaged in and supportive of visual art and craft practice
  • raise the profile of visual artists and makers locally, nationally and internationally fulfilling a crucial role in the culture and tourism of Dumfries and Galloway
  • build strategic partnerships at regional, national and international level
  • maintain a financially sound and adaptively resilient organisation
  • use, and encourage the use of, innovative and emerging digital technology
  • work to the benefit the local economy and the sustainability of local communities.

Its funders are Creative Scotland, D&G Council, Holywood Trust, The William Grant Foundation, ASWT, Barfill.  

Upland is very happy to help journalists. Contact us and we can set up interviews, provide pictures and photo opportunities. In some circumstances we can offer ready-written copy. For media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at Mjhshelley@hotmail.co.uk or call Upland on 01387 213 218.

About EventScotland  

EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org. Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews

EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland. For more information about VisitScotland see www.visitscotland.org or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see www.visitscotland.com