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Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Spring Fling Round Up along the Colvend Coast

Memories of Spring Fling 2012
Part 1.

For those of you who were unable to do the rounds at this years Spring Fling we sent out our team of trusty local correspondents who shared their opinions with us. Here is just a taste of the 57 Spring Fling artists who opened their studios.  With the blog having a Rockcliffe and Kippford focus, these are the artists and studios easiest to access from our villages, we would love to have travelled further afield across the region but there's always next year! 

Phillipa Sinclair: Colvend Village Hall
My first visit of this years Spring Fling was to our very own Philipa Sinclair who lives in Rockcliffe. Philipa's signature colour palette was much in evidence as was the European influences on her work. Philipa's paintings, which also include many local scenes and motifs are bold and vibrant and I noticed that she had done some exciting designs on fabrics and cushions which I had not seen before. 

Philippa Sinclair's work displayed at Colvend Village Hall

Philippa, never afraid to experiment, had also achieved some wonderful effects with subtle metallic highlights in some of her work. However, the paintings which really caught my eye, and that of several other visitors, were several exquisitely simple flower studies. Confident and graphic yet conversely subtle and delicate they reminded me of Japanese flower studies and I so wished I could have taken them home with me.
Philippa's website
Philippa is currently exhibiting at Castle Douglas Library Hall until the end of the month.

Phil Mcmenemy: The Gallery, Lauriston
I was introduced to the work of, Twitter addict, Phil at the CatStrand earlier in the year and fell in love with his almost abstract botanic studies so I was keen to see a larger body of his work and hot footed it over to his delightful gallery. The gallery is a converted Galloway barn and with it's simple white walls, slate floor and exposed beams is an ideal gallery space in which to showcase Phil's stunning prints. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, there are so many evocative views and landscapes. Being reared on the Narnia Chronicles, The Little White Horse and Tolkien, Phil's woodland scenes take me straight back to the lands of myth and legend to a time when they were populated by faerie folk. I fell in love with a large black and white print of a close up of the muzzle of gorgeous Galloway cow but it was a bit large to smuggle out under my coat (and I am sure Phil can run faster than me!)
Phil Mcmenemy teamed up with local songwriter and musician Zoe Bestel for Spring Fling on Friday afternoon

The afternoon turned out to be a rare treat as my visit coincided with an unplugged set by local musical phenomenon 14 year old singer/songwriter Zoe Bestel. Zoe, who accompanies her haunting lyrics with a ukulele, sat surrounded by an entranced and very appreciative audience in the corner of Phil's studio and played a selection of her own work and a couple of inspirational cover versions. As I joined the queue to buy her latest single I was touched by her natural confidence and easy way with people. I am sure we will all be seeing and hearing a lot more from her. We are delighted to be told that Zoe's "Just Another Girl" has been short listed to win a Young Song Writers’ Competition. The competition is held annually and is run by an Anti-violence Against Women team here in our local region of Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland You can hear her song and vote here  Just Another Girl

As if the afternoon hadn't been memorable enough I can't fail to mention the awesome afternoon tea and cakes in the Lauriston Village Hall. A choice of three cakes selected from a whole A4 sheet list and either coffee or tea. This must surely be heaven! Thank you ladies.

Phil's website

John Threlfall: Rockcliffe Gallery
No Spring Fling is complete for us without a visit to see John's work. John, deservedly voted Bird Artist of the Year 2007, also lives in Rockcliffe so can often be seen out and about, particularly at the RSPB Mersehead Reserve where he gets lots of inspiration. 
John Threlfall at work at the Rockcliffe Gallery on Sunday morning
Two things struck me at John's show this year: first there was an interesting mix of media with some exiting new work using both oil pastels and acrylic paints. Two paintings in particular used this to great effect, Puffins and Eider Ducks, both of which John has had made into very accessible giclee prints. The second was the stronger use of colour. Influenced by the local landscape John's earlier work adopted a more muted palette but since his visit to a Tiger Sanctuary in India where he painted the local wildlife, his palette includes stronger bolder colours giving his work a new edge. His signature bird studies were much in evidence and sadly for me (but fantastic for John) my favourite painting of two Lapwings sold to his first visitor on the first day of Spring Fling. I did not go away empty handed though. Being unable to chose between the strong graphic image of a Tern in water colour or the detailed subtlety of two Rooks executed in pastel I solved the conundrum by buying them both!

John's website

Christine Smith: Barnbarroch Pottery, Barnbarroch
The creative talents of Christine Smith are showcased at this working pottery which once housed the local school. Christine's unique style and quirky humour produce some fascinating and distinctive pieces which seem to draw on local influences and medieval bestiaries in equal measure. The shop glows as the lights reflect the subtle pigments and glossy glazes of the pieces ranging from simple domestic ware to complex and monumental flights of fancy. On Monday afternoon the pottery car park was jam packed, a tribute to the wide appeal and enduring popularity of Christines work. The pottery is open all year round and has a shop where Christines work can be viewed and purchased.

The Barnbarroch Pottery website

Spring Fling is planned from the 25th to 27th May. Part two of Memories of Spring Fling will be posted soon.

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