The “lost landscapes” of an ancient island buried deep beneath Scotland’s Southern Uplands have been created using light, shadow, finger rings and bio-resin sculptures.

They are the work of a young experimental artist taking part in the Spring Fling open studios weekend. The 21st annual event, involving 100 studios across Dumfries and Galloway, takes place from 27-29 May, and features a multitude of artists and makers.

Among them are Denise Zygadlo, who works in a variety of media and Anne Butler, a semi-abstract painter inspired by today’s land and seascapes.

Another is 23-year-old Marly Merle whose wearable, interactive art conjures up an imaginary prehistoric island from before the land masses that formed England and Scotland collided.

Exhibiting at The Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, Marly is taking part for the first time through Upland’s new CREATE scheme which offers a platform to an artist working in less commercial, more experimental ways. 

Marly’s work uses magnetic finger rings to which the wearer can attach bio-resin sculptures that – when held in front of a projector – cast shadows showing the hills and coastlines of Thestra.

While Thestra is fictional, the setting is fact. Marly takes us back to the world as it was 400 million years ago. Thestra lies in the Lapetus Ocean but vanishes when Laurentia (which included what is now Scotland) and Eastern Avalonia (which included what became England and wales) fuse together.

Marly, who was brought up in Auldgirth and now has a studio in Glasgow, said: “Sadly Thestra was lost and is now beneath the Southern Uplands. This exhibition is an attempt to establish a sense of connection with a place that vanished so long ago – aeons before humans evolved.”

Anne Butler, based at Ferndale Studio, Durisdeer, Thornhill, finds her inspiration in the region as it looks today.

She said: “I am lucky enough to live in the beautiful village of Durisdeer and have a studio which is very much my workspace. I love to spend time outdoors where I paint landscapes and seascapes – mostly working on large canvases.

“Spring Fling has always been a wonderful opportunity for artists like me to invite visitors in and share what we do – and talk to them about the things that we love and that inspire our art.”

Densie Zygadlo, who was involved in the first Spring Fling, is based at Glenhead, Auldgirth. Visitors will see prints, drawings and works on canvas in various settings including a treehouse, roundhouse and a balcony area.

She said: “I am lucky enough to live in the beautiful village of Durisdeer and have a studio in my garden. After studying at Leith School of Art, Spring Fling was my first ever exhibition. That was over ten years ago and I have exhibited in Spring Fling every year since. I now exhibit in lots of galleries in the UK and am grateful to Spring Fling for giving me the initial confidence I needed to approach galleries.

“Spring Fling is more special than exhibiting in galleries because it gives artists like me the opportunity to invite visitors into our studios and share what we do. I have had so many interesting conversations with people about why they buy art, from new extensions to anniversaries and even to celebrate recovering from illness. It would be lovely to welcome new visitors to my studio this weekend.”

Dumfries and Galloway takes time to explore so Upland CIC, Spring Fling’s organisers, have divided it into six suggested colour-coded routes that each allow people to meet a wide variety of artists and makers.

Joanna Jones, Assistant Director of Upland CIC which organises Spring Fling, said: “The variety of artists and makers is quite incredible.

“We have everything from experimental installations by up-and-coming artists like Marly to landscape painting, original printmaking, ceramics, jewellery and so much more. The whole weekend is a chance to explore one of Scotland’s most beautiful regions and meet members of its incredible creative community.”


Notes for editors 

About Spring Fling

  • Spring Fling made its name a 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.
  • For further details visit or contact [email protected]
  • Spring Fling is pleased to once again have the support from Dumfries & Galloway Council as one of the region’s Signature Events. 
  • For the full programme and to book bus or walking tours visit
  • In addition to CREATE which gives an artist a free place in the event, organisers have increased the number of bursaries and the amount of financial aid offered in response to the ongoing cost of living crises.

About Upland

Upland CIC (Community Interest Company) supports artists and makers based in, and with connections to, the region. It 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
  • 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 Barfill Trust. 

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and

For media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at [email protected] or call Upland on 01387 213 218.