Arts agency unveils plans to engage audiences and support artists and makers during Covid-19 pandemic lockdown


Annual Spring Fling 'At Home' Brings You Studio Tours, Workshops and Exhibitions

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The organisers of Spring Fling are launching SF | At Home – a new programme of digital activities. The initiative is to support Spring Fling audiences and artists though this period of isolation and fill some of the gap left by the postponement of Scotland’s leading open studios weekend. 

A total of 87 artists and craft makers across Dumfries & Galloway were expecting to welcome around 12,000 visitors through their doors between 23 and 25 May.

Despite having to delay the long-running annual event its parent organisation, Upland CIC, has worked with artists, makers and supporters to go digital.

Some studios will offer virtual tours, there will be an online exhibition plus workshops and demonstrations suitable for all ages.

The website is also being updated to showcase all the studios selected for Spring Fling 2020 and with a variety of art and craft to browse and buy.

Joanna Macaulay, Assistant Director for Upland, said: 

“The next bank holiday weekend just won’t be the same without Spring Fling. It is one of the most successful events of its kind in the UK – a much-loved highlight of the year for visitors and participants alike.

“We hope that SF | At Home will fill some of the gap. Even though the artists and makers can’t open their doors in the usual way – people can still meet some of them online to see their studios, watch demonstrations and even take part in workshops.

“And hopefully it will inspire those who aren’t familiar with Spring Fling, or this beautiful region of south-west Scotland, to come and see us later in the year.”

“It is really important for us to keep our artists engaged with their audiences and to do our bit in providing creative opportunities for our Spring Fling visitors. 

“Art and craft are good for wellbeing and we hope that our workshops and demonstrations will be welcomed by those in isolation. The timing is especially appropriate as 18-24 May is Mental Health Awareness week.” 

Anyone wanting to use lockdown to develop their own art skills should watch out for the tutorials by established artists Bella Green and Liz Gilbey among others

Bella, who has 50 years’ experience in art education will run two sessions under the title of Making Your Mark.

Liz is filming short videos that introduce simple drawing techniques making use of materials available around the house when a full art kit is not available. 

She said: “We are all eating and cooking at home at the moment and, so one of the things I’ll be doing is looking at the beauty of the ordinary in the kitchen – the fruit and veg, the glass and ceramics. I’ll be encouraging a free and loose approach to drawing and full expression in colour.”

SF | At Home will run from 18 to 25 May.

Emily Tough will present an online exhibition and virtual tour of the artwork she created as the Spring Fling Wigtown Book Festival Artist in Residence last year.

This saw her use recycled materials to create puppets inspired by stories and people at the book festival – all within a miniature big top.

The SF | At Home online activities are also an important way for Upland CIC to help support artists, makers and small businesses – many of them facing substantial challenges due to the lockdown. Upland plans to announce a new date for Spring Fling 2020 in the coming months.

As Dumfries & Galloway’s art and craft development agency Upland CIC is also introducing projects to support artists and makers.

Digital Diversions kicks off with live advice sessions to support and develop members’ skills in online selling and reaching audiences through video. 

These will be led by Upland members Kim Ayres, a photographer from Castle Douglas, and Suzi Plunkett, of Little Dot Creations in Newton Stewart. 

A further suite of sessions will take place in June and will see other members share their expertise.

Upland also plans an online exhibition A Postcard from D&G – We Wish You Were Here. The idea is for members to come up with 2D and 3D works that can be easily posted.

Amy Marletta, Upland’s Projects Director, said: 

“Our members are hugely talented and accomplished people, but many face extraordinary difficulties – with events and exhibitions cancelled, and galleries and studios closed.

“By sharing expertise we can give them additional skills to help rebuild and diversify. At the same time, A Postcard from D&G – We Wish You Were Here, provides an opportunity to prepare work for an exhibition and hopefully make some sales.”

The organisation has also adapted one of its planned major projects, Artful Migration, so it can go ahead under Covid-19 restrictions.

The artist residency project, in partnership with Ginnie Wollaston and Nicholas Parton Philip of Moving Souls Dance, will focus on the ospreys nesting at NTS Threave Garden and Estate to look at wider issues of climate change and migration.

Amy said: “While human society may be on hold, the ospreys are continuing their cycle of migration and breeding as usual. “Even though the artists may not be able to spend time at Threave in the way we had hoped, the current pandemic may well raise interesting issues about our future relationship with the natural world.”

  • SF | At Home workshops and live tours are free but registration will be needed – check for details. 
  • Digital Diversions activities are for Upland members and information will be available at


Rebecca van Rooijen


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