A new generation of artists and makers will be presenting everything from luxury wedding tiaras to a puppet circus as part of Spring Fling 2019.

Each year Scotland’s premier open studios weekend, and its parent organisation Upland, run schemes to provide a platform to celebrate emerging talent.

Among the young creative taking part this year will be Emily Tough (Studio 63, Dumfries) a 3D artist who graduated last year likes to use recycled materials to create woodwork, jewellery, collage and puppets. 

Visitors to her studio will be able to see her automated performance sculpture The Illustrated Circus, a colourful big top filled with handmade puppet characters including a ringmaster, clowns, acrobats, stilt walkers and even a lion.

She said: “I think of myself as a bit of an inventor and like to build things in 3D. And I also like to tour with my work.

The Illustrated Circus has been great for that, I’ve taken to festivals up and down the country.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of Spring Fling this year as it’s an opportunity to have my work seen by a large audience, with visitors coming to the region from all over the UK and overseas.” 

Sarah Rogers (Studio 17, Gatehouse of Fleet) was awarded an Upland Emerge bursary, which gives her nine months of mentoring, training and networking with established makers Alison Macleod and Lisa Rothwell-Young.

She will be launching a new range at Spring Fling some of which will include bridal tiaras and hairpieces.

Sarah said: “Brides are increasingly looking for luxury and bespoke precious metal tiaras and hair pieces. Now inundated with mass produced options, they are turning towards traditional makers to create something unique and meaningful which is what I hope to achieve through my work.

“I’d like to see the popularity of tiaras and bridal hair pieces continue to flourish, it’s an area I really enjoy working in and hope to add my own contemporary twist to.”

For the first time Spring Fling will be venturing into the realms of performancewith another Emerge artist, Jordan Chisholm, presenting fragments of a new and unusualwork. This One’s For You is based around listening, sharing and exchange. This performance attempts to understand what it means for us to find exactly what we have always wanted to say but haven’t been able to. 

Jordan will be sharing her studio (number 65, in Dumfries) with Emily Cooper, another of the region’s up-an-coming generation of artists. Emily creates sculptural mixed media pieces, often working with material that already has a history – reclaimed, broken or sometimes unused.

Spring Fling also launched a Graduates Scheme this year in order to helpemerging artists and makers take part in a large-scale event for professional creatives in Scotland.

One of this year’s beneficiaries is Jennifer Hastie (Studio 15, Bargrennan, Newton Stewart) who has a fascination with the former military and industrial sites of rural Scotland and their role as portals to the past.

The other is Hannah Spicer (Studio 42, Crossmichael) who is a ceramicist who makes pieces that mimic the texture and shape of rocks and stones.

She said: “I like to create work that makes direct reference to places in Scotland. I’m creating a new range for Spring Fling that are based on the shapes, colours and coastline around Dunoon.

“I’m really looking forward to the weekend because as a new graduate it’s very valuable to me to have my work seen by a wide new audience – it’s also a chance to meet new people and make contacts of all sorts.”

One of the challenges facing Dumfries and Galloway is providing career opportunities that will encourage young people to stay or return to the region. 

In Scotland more widely, young people often face substantial obstacles making the transition from student to professional artist or maker.

Joanna Macaulay, Events and Exhibitions Manager for Upland which runs Spring Fling, said: “Dumfries and Galloway, and the whole of Scotland, are rich with creative talent. 

“It’s essential for the region, and the country, that we nurture emerging artists and makers so they can build rewarding careers and so that we can continue building on the success of our creative economy – which has a worldwide reputation for excellence.

“We are delighted to have such a strong and varied group of young participants this year – between them they are bringing an abundance of fresh ideas and perspectives to Spring Fling.”

This year’s open studios weekend will see 93 specially selected studios, from all across the region, throw open their doors to the public.


Photo by Colin Hattersly

Notes for editors 

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.uk or 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, EventScotland, 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