Grand celebration marks the end of 40th birthday

Furniture making artist Ian Cameron-Smith, showing at Wasps Studios, Kirkcudbright,

Scotland’s biggest creative community is marking the end of its 40th birthday year with an exhibition by its art studio tenants from Orkney to the Borders.

Wasps, Scotland’s largest creative community, is marking the end of its 40th anniversary year with 40/40 Vision, which features work produced at 16 Wasps galleries and artists’ residencies, will also be the inaugural temporary exhibition at the £3.2 million Kirkcudbright Galleries, which opens on 9 June.

Wasps stands for Workshop and Artists’ Studio Provision Scotland Ltd. It was established in 1977.

The event comes at a time of rapid growth for Wasps with the recent £1.2m first phase of a creative hub in Inverness underway and a major project starting in Perth.

By the end of 2018 Wasps hopes to be providing good-quality studios, workshops, offices and other facilities for 1000 creative people – up from around 800 now.

The Kirkcudbright exhibition is being curated by Ian and Claire Cameron-Smith who were among the first to take space in the town’s thriving Wasps studio complex which opened eight years ago.

Ian, a visual artist and furniture maker, said: ‘The exhibition will have a very contemporary feel; it will be bright, bold and exciting. There will be pieces by artists of many different disciplines and from Wasps studios all over the country so it will be a real insight into contemporary Scottish art.

Janie Nicoll’s Crossing Point

‘It’s a huge honour to have been invited to organise the first ever temporary exhibition at the new Kirkcudbright Galleries – and a bit daunting too.’

The exhibition was being planned while the galleries were still being created so Claire created a scale model of the interior so they could work out what should go where.

Their task was made even tougher by the quality of the applications.

Ian continued: ‘As it was to celebrate Wasps’ 40th birthday the original idea was to have work from 40 artists. But the number and quality of applications was so tremendous we couldn’t whittle it down that far and have ended up with between one and four pieces each from around 60 artists.’

The exhibition will include paintings, drawings, original prints, willow work, freestanding sculpture, digital art, jewellery, ceramics, furniture and more. It aims to highlight the value of providing centres where creative people can work, mix and build their businesses, something that can be especially hard to find in rural areas.

Ian said: ‘Before Wasps came to Kirkcudbright our residents had to work from their homes, or sheds or garages. The difference is just night and day. It’s everything Wasps is supposed to be – light, clean, affordable and pleasant places to work.’

Among the pieces at the exhibition will be Crossing Point, by Janie Nicoll from Wasps studios at South Block in Glasgow. She is exhibiting a large collage work, originally commissioned for a ‘four winds’ bus shelter located at Bhaltos Glen, Loch Miavaig, Uig, on Lewis which incorporates imagery and text from newspapers in a reworking of a map of the area, and a Saltire.

Janie said: ‘Kirkcudbright has such a strong artistic tradition so it’s great to have an opportunity like this, especially as the original collage has never been exhibited before. I like the idea of having work from all across the country because while there are a lot of individual studio complexes, Wasps has a national perspective.’

Glasgow based artist Janie Nicoll

Like many others Janie was attracted to Wasps because it offers affordable space and a sense of being part of a creative community.

She said: ‘In South Block you are surrounded by all sorts of creative people – artists, designers, architects which gives it a really lively vibe. Having a studio at Wasps also gives you opportunities to show your work through things like open studios events and ties you in to a wider creative network.’

Audrey Carlin, Wasps chief executive officer, said: ‘The exhibition is a great way to mark the end of a 40th year which has seen so much progress and in which we have laid the foundations for an even more ambitious and vibrant future.

‘There is so much creative talent in our studios in every part of Scotland. So it is very fitting that the exhibition is being staged at a new gallery of national importance in a Kirkcudbright where we have a thriving studio complex that is helping uphold the town’s great artistic traditions.’

Wasps studios are located in: Aberdeen (Langstane Place Studios and Shore Lane Studios), Dundee (Meadow Mill Studios), Edinburgh (Albion Road in Leith, Patriothall in Stockbridge and West Park Place in Dalry), Glasgow (Dovehill in Gallowgate, Hanson Street in Dennistoun, South Block and The Briggait, (both in The Merchant City), Irvine (The Courtyard), Kirkcudbright (Canonwalls and Claverhouse), Nairn (Links Studios), Newburgh (The Steeple), Selkirk (St Mary’s Mill) and Shetland (The Booth in Scalloway).