From textiles to stone: Artists and makers reconnecting society and the natural world

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From textiles to stone: Artists and makers reconnecting society and the natural world
Enjoy the creative talents being nurtured at a great stately home.

GREENLAW.- Vividly-coloured textiles, exquisite stone carvings, woodland landscape paintings, ceramics made using Scottish earth and traditional handmade Art & Crafts chairs are among the high-quality work on show at Marchmont House this weekend (Saturday 28th to Sunday 29th August 2021).

The mid 18th-century Grade A listed stately home, near Greenlaw, Scottish Borders, is establishing itself as a centre of excellence for emerging and established artists and craft makers – with an emphasis on reconnecting society to the natural world.

The Open Studios weekend provides a superb opportunity to meet short and long-term residents of Marchmont’s beautiful Creative Spaces studios and of the nearby Fogo Cottage (former studio of the great botanical artist and musician Rory McEwen).

Among those taking part are the sculptor Frippy Jameson, textile artists Laura Derby and Lou Gardiner, stonecarvers Michelle de Bruin and Josephine Crossland, painter and sculptor Andrew Mackenzie and fifth generation Arts & Crafts rush seated chairmakers Richard Platt and Sam Cooper.

Some are creating work that has been inspired by Marchmont House, near Greenlaw, and its surrounding estate – in which substantial areas are being used to grow native trees and plants and encourage wildlife including barn owls.

Among them is Laura Derby from Kirkcudbright, who has spent the past month at Fogo Cottage, after being awarded a residency by Marchmont in association with WASPS Artists’ Studios. In that time she has been creating hand-tufted wool pile textiles inspired by the colours of the plants and flowers on the state and nearby countryside.

She said: “The landscape, the flowers, the plants and the colours are just so wonderful round here – I just adore the lust for life and thrust for growth.

“It’s something I very much want to capture in my work, which is about encouraging people to stop and think for a moment, to see and appreciate the natural world and build connections with it.

“My hope is always to encourage people to open up to different perspectives, think about whether they are really living as fully as they can, and encourage them to go their own way.”

Laura’s philosophy is in keeping with the aims of Marchmont whose director, former tech entrepreneur Hugo Burge, believes we need a renewed emphasis on the handmade and on nature to counterbalance the digital revolution.

He said: “The open studios weekend is a chance to come to Marchmont and enjoy work by some quite exceptional artists and makers who are working in our new Creative Spaces studios, and at Fogo Cottage.

“Our aim here is very much to create a centre of excellence, and a place that nourishes and nurtures talent – forging stronger connections between artists, creative businesses, the public and the natural world.

“We believe that society is in need of a new version of the Arts & Crafts Movement which grew up as a counterweight to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. While the Digital Revolution of today is bringing previously unimaginable benefits, it’s essential for us to cherish and encourage the natural and the hand-made.

“This is what so many of our artists and makers, whether they are here as permanent or short-term residents, are dedicated to achieving through their work and it’s something we want to help celebrate.”

Most of the studios are in superbly restored buildings set around the old stables courtyard.

In addition to the open studios event there are also guided tours of Marchmont’s outdoor sculpture collection, which features pieces from the 18th century to the present day.

The collection includes works by Charles Poulsen, Paolozzi, Michelle de Bruin, David Nash, William Turnbull, Antony Gormley and more.

There will also be the unveiling of new sculptures by Andrew Mackenzie and David Nash.

The open studios is a timed ticketing event, places are free but need to be pre-booked. Tickets for the guided tours are £10.

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