South Scotland

Artists throw open doors for Spring Fling

Spring Fling artists
Image caption Spring Fling allows artists from across the region to showcase their work

A total of 93 artists across Dumfries and Galloway are throwing their studio doors open and invite the public in for a look around. The Spring Fling festival is now in its 11th year but this year there is also a fringe programme.

Woods are the places for big surprises, apparently, but you might want to keep your eyes peeled in gardens across Dumfries and Galloway.

Artist Alex Rigg is modelling one of more than 15 garden-themed costumes made from inner tubing, geotex fabric and astroturf.

On Friday, he and a team of professional dancers and enthusiastic ladies from Dance Base are giving the first performance of Pollen, a fantastic mix of dance, theatre and visual arts.

The show is not only the highlight of Spring Fling's first fringe programme but testament to the huge growth of the festival, in both scale and ambition.

First timer Robin Wade says she is aware of the reputation of artists as solitary creatures but is happy to give it a go, especially as she shares studio space with Spring Fling veteran Phillip Gunn.

But the range of art on offer has expanded too. Sculptor Robbie Coleman has made a sound work this year. Art lovers can tune their radios in at specific locations and listen to it.

Image caption This year the range of artists and types of work have been expanded

"Dumfries and Galloway has a lot of interesting artists working in very different ways and Spring Fling didn't really cover that but it's beginning to provide opportunities and an audience for different kinds of work," he says.

"And that's very exciting. Not just for me but other artists too."

The audience has expanded too. Last year about 10,000 people took part in Spring Fling. Project manager Leah Black says they looked closely at the demographics.

"54% of them came from outwith the region," she says.

"Lots from Cumbria and the central belt, a growing audience from London and further north in Scotland. Last year, we had visitors from 19 different countries to Spring Fling."

As for that spectacular dance performance. Rather appropriately, it's on the move.

"This is the beginning of our westward drift," says Alex Rigg, still resplendent in white face paint and grass-topped hat.

"Since the ladies are arriving as we speak from Edinburgh on their bus, we'll drift westwards from Craigieburn Gardens to Drumlanrig Castle on Saturday and then onwards and westwards to Castle Kennedy Gardens on Sunday afternoon."

Spring Fling runs from 25 to 27 May.

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