Spring Fling photographers have shared some of their favourite pictures that illustrate what makes Dumfries and Galloway such a special region of Scotland.

Phil McMenemy and Alistair Hamilton are stalwarts of the annual open studios event – which this year has been moved from May to October 5-12 and will be entirely online except for a series of window exhibitions.

Spring Fling normally offers thousands of visitors from elsewhere in Scotland, the rest of the UK and overseas the chance to enjoy the beauties of one of Scotland’s lesser-known rural regions.

The photographers hope that this selection of pictures will fill a little of the gap left by having a digital event rather than one that encourages visitors from outwith south west Scotland.

Work by Phil, Alistair and around 80 other artists and makers can still be seen via the Spring Fling website this year – among them embroiderer and textile artist Alison Corfield, who is Alistair’s wife.

The couple were hoping to welcome visitors into their studio at Borgue, near Kirkcudbright, but due to Covid-19 restrictions will now be showing their work online.

Alistair, who was also photographed in his and Alison’s studio and at one of his favourite spots on the River Dee, provided pictures of Ross Bay, Ross Bay Rocks and trees in woodland near Gatehouse of Fleet.

Alistair said: “My home overlooks Ross Bay, which is an inlet near the mouth of Kirkcudbright Bay, and it is what I see when I get up every morning and look out of the window.

“It has a big tidal range, with the sea edge moving over 1km between low and high spring tides. It is muddy rather than sandy, so it is not a bathing beach. 

“I love it because it is never twice the same as the mud is always moving which means the shape of the incoming waves constantly changes.

“I also love Carstramont Wood above Gatehouse-of-Fleet. It’s a dense wood, but there is a lovely clearing in there – and to enter it you have to pass these wonderful trees.”

Phil, who runs The Gallery at Laurieston near Castle Douglas, added: “How to capture Galloway? How to capture her moods and her character? It changes, we change – it remains a wonderful challenge. I hope I do it justice.”

His pictures, from different seasons, include:

  • Autumn Gold – a patchwork of autumnal glory
  • Burst – Loch Ken and the approaches of winter, an artistic icy-blast
  • Pebble – textures and shapes abound in Galloway, a land that requires protection and care.
  • Queens Way – a road of glory, encapsulating the variety of form and vistas that Galloway possesses
  • Snow Tree – splendid isolation and a tiny bothy in the heart of the region
  • Three Trees – journeys abound in the space offered here. Some busy and some where you are completely alone, save for the memories and history

As well as being able to see and buy work from artists and makers Spring Fling plans a variety of activities such as workshops by Kim Ayres and Izzy Leach.  

Kim’s photography workshops will take place live on Facebook over four days with a group for attendees to share work and results. Izzy will present A Kind of Blue, a cyanotype workshop which is a beginner friendly way to photographically print from home with limited equipment.

There will also be the Looking In which will allow people to see work without going online. Venues will include The Look Out, Langholm, The Whitehouse Gallery, Kirkcudbright, Number 11 in Wigtown .

Joanna Macaulay, Assistant Director for Upland Arts Development CIC, said “This year Spring Fling will run for eight-days rather than the usual three so more people, from all round the world, can take part.

“We had hoped that some studios would be able to open for visitors from within the region, but the upsurge in Covid-19 means that this could be unsafe.

“So while we will now be almost completely online for 2020 we hope these photos will whet people’s appetite to visit the Dumfries and Galloway in person – during the next Spring Fling or at any other time of year – once Covid-19 restrictions allow.

“It’s a beautiful region, and a lesser-known area of Scotland, with a huge amount of creative talent, so makes a rewarding, friendly and tranquil destination.”


Notes for editors 

About Spring Fling

  • Last year 74% of visitors had been to a previous Spring Fling, 26% were new, and 99% would come again.
  • 98% rated Spring Fling as excellent or good.
  • 57% of visitors were from outside Dumfries and Galloway.
  • Visitors spent close to £1.4 million in the region.
  • More than half Spring Fling visitors spend one night or more in the region.
  • For further details visit www.spring-fling.co.uk or contact info@spring-fling.co.uk

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 and exists 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, The Holywood Trust, The William Grant Foundation, The Heritage Lottery Fund, ASWT, Barfill. 

For media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at Mjhshelley@hotmail.co.uk or call Upland on 01387 213 218.