The event is run by a committee of participants, on a voluntary basis, and regularly attracts thousands of visitors to North Fife from the local area and beyond. Participants work all over the region, and in varied media: ceramicists, painters, jewellers and weavers; artists working in glass, metal, wood and photography. There is a mixture of established and emerging artists participating.
The idea behind it is simple, says chairman and artist Leo Norris:
“The event was set up to support and spread the word about professional artists and designer-makers working in the area. Visitors go to studios, meeting the makers of a wide variety of artwork and perhaps buy or commission directly from them. It gives a unique insight into the workspaces used by artists, and an understanding of what goes into the production of the work, as well as exploring a lovely part of Scotland.”
Each year, Open Studios North Fife awards a bursary to a new participant, and the winner this year was Hazel McLeod, a painter who is launching her artistic career 17 years after graduating from art school. Hazel, based in Freuchie, specialises in landscapes and wedding bouquet ‘portraits’, an increasingly popular way for brides and grooms to remember their wedding day flowers. The bursary is sponsored by the Howe of Fife Rotary Club.
Sheila Page draws in pastel and charcoal. She works from a brilliant purpose-built garden studio in Cupar, where she has lived for many years. A Glasgow School of Art graduate, Sheila enjoyed a long career in education, and has re-engaged with her own artwork.
“I usually work directly from observation and sometimes develop work so that it edges into abstraction. I am very interested in marks, surface and the play of light and dark. I use a range of media, mainly pastel and charcoal and sometimes acrylic paint. My subject matter is varied and tends to involve specific projects, including in the past, sheds, trees, city buildings and at the moment, old tools. During OSNF I will have lots of work on display, including sketchbooks and experimental pieces and will have a piece of work on the go.”
Deborah is an artist with an interest in ceramics. Self-taught, she made the decision in 2017 to focus on her work full time and over the past year has created the start of her collection of jewellery and homewares which is now stocked within a few select independent gift shops throughout the UK.
“I am currently exploring a range of designs and techniques incorporating an intuitive approach to span a variety of styles. There is rarely a moment that passes that I’m not considering shape, form, composition or design of current pieces and new work. Life experiences, walks with my dog and my surrounding environment are all influencing factors toward design and in particular, my previous career as a nurse has influenced a desire to create work that promotes wellbeing, calm and happiness. I’m continuing to add to my jewellery range but my most current work is taking shape in the form of using clay as a canvas for art work and creating small forms by way of vases, vessels and irregularly shaped dishes, resulting in a contemporary mix of intuitive minimalism based on my interpretation of the meaning of the piece.”
Derek is an internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning artist best known for his depictions of wildlife and landscape. Derek has illustrated and written numerous books, has regularly featured in press and radio and has often appeared on television as both a writer and presenter.
As one of the UK’s best known wildlife artists, Derek has won a number of national and international awards and shows his work around the world. His work is held in both private collections and in a series of prestigious public collections including the Tate Gallery, The Scotland Office, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Diageo Collection and the Leigh Yawkey Museum in Wisconsin.
“I have recently been working on a project that links bird migration and the experience of refugees which has included research trips to the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, Sicilian ports and camps and desert refugee camps in Jordan. The resulting work was shown at a solo exhibition in a Conservation and Human rights symposium in London in February this year, where I was also a keynote speaker. It is also going to show as part of an invited showcase at the Pittenweem Arts Festival and at the Nature in Art Museum Gloucester in 2019 and has been proposed for exhibition at a number of events and galleries in the UK and Europe.”
Goldsmiths graduate Kirsty Lorenz is a visual artist who uses flowers as a central subject, depicting them in different ways and contexts through painting in oils and watercolours, drawing, mixed media and installations including film, sound and printed textiles. She works from her unusual studio on Platform 2 in Ladybank Railway Station, which she launched in 2009.
“My current project, Votive Offerings, is an ongoing series of portrayals of posies of wild Scottish flowers and plants, featuring large and small, highly detailed paintings of Scottish wild flower posies that I have made around Scotland, from Orkney to the West Coast to Angus to Fife, over the last few years, as well as short films of wild flowers in their wild situ, sound and printed prayer flags.”
Last year, Kirsty’s successful solo exhibition, Floresce showed at The Meffan Gallery in Forfar, touring to Montrose Museum. The exhibition received a four star review from art critic Giles Sutherland, and was the result of winning the Society of Scottish Artists Meffan Gallery Solo Exhibition Award in 2015. She is currently working towards her first solo exhibition with The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh in June 2018. She will have a new range of greetings cards available at the open studio.
Kirsty Whiten is an artist known for her intricate and disturbing drawings and paintings and instantly recognisable street art. Graduating from ECA in 1999, she lived in Paris and Edinburgh before building a house and studios in Craigrothie, Fife, with her partner and two children. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including solo shows with Stolenspace in London, projects with Edinburgh Printmakers workshop and RECOAT gallery in Glasgow.
Kirsty makes intricate watercolours and large, colourful, detailed oil paintings. She works with human figures, stories and psychology. The images she makes are confrontational and often humorous, concerned with picking over social norms, exploring human behaviour, especially gender and sexuality.
Her practice involves life-drawing, and there will be many vibrant charcoal figure drawings on display at the Open Studios, alongside the paintings and illustrations.
A hugely successful Kickstarter campaign funded the publication of Kirsty’s beautiful, hardcover book of her work about ritual and ceremonial costumes; Wronger Rites The Quing of the Now People. There will be signed copies to see and buy at her studio.
Open Studios North Fife, 5-7 May, www.open studiosfife.co.uk; facebook.com/openstudiosnorthfife