Child artists in the frame

IT was established as a way of encouraging and nurturing local artistic talent.

This year, the North Berwick Art Fair will be taking a bold step in fostering the next generation of artists, with pupils from the nearby Dirleton Primary School invited to exhibit specially created pieces.

The youngsters, aged between five and 12 years old, will next week see their work go on display in the seaside town alongside paintings by well-known artists from the Lothians and Scotland.

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Running in the St Andrews Blackadder Parish Church from July 3-7, the North Berwick Art Fair will also include work by established and newly discovered artists.

For some of the youngsters from Dirleton it could be the first step to a career in the art world.

“They’re really excited about it,” says headteacher Sarah Ogden. “They are young, but some of them are really keen to pursue art, and we’ve had a local artist in working with them who has been helping them.”

The idea for getting the children involved came about as a way of helping to celebrate the school’s centenary year.

Art fair organiser and co-founder Gordon Duncan, a resident of Dirleton, suggested it to the school as he wanted the youngsters to enjoy the experience of seeing their work on show to the public in a serious exhibition.

Mr Duncan says: “We are delighted that the talented artists of Dirleton Primary School have chosen the North Berwick Art Fair to display their paintings as they celebrate their centenary year.

“The event aims to showcase and celebrate the incredible array of talent in East Lothian and for children, it is very exciting to see their paintings mounted and displayed in a professional way. This helps them feel proud and inspired, encouraging them to nurture a passion for art and the joy it brings.”

For the 69 pupils at the school, the chance to create something for an art exhibition certainly proved to be an inspiring challenge.

“Gordon is very well known locally and with the centenary coming up in September he thought it would be really nice if the school could exhibit some work,” explains Sarah.

“We have a lot of different styles – there’s paintings and drawing and some ceramic flowers that were made at a local artist’s kiln just up the road from the school, and all that will go into the show.

“We couldn’t have something from every child, but they all took part and created a lot of different work, from which we selected the pieces going on show.

“They were all very enthusiastic to get involved though, and Gordon came to unveil a painting of the school that had been done by a local artist and he told them all about the exhibition.

“It’s been a great project to be part of, and they’ve even had another artist come in and film them while they were working, and the video is going to be shown as part of the art fair.”

The youngsters’ work will be among the pick of art from the county and beyond, with the event featuring more than 200 artworks including watercolours, acrylics, oils and mixed media by artists from East Lothian and Scotland, all of which will be available to view and buy as original art or prints.

The art fair was started last year by Mr Drummond, of The Accessible Art Company, who had been an avid art collector since he was a youngster in Glasgow, and Kirsten Boston, of Hangar Framing.

After the huge success of that event, which even in such difficult economic climes saw works snapped up by eager admirers, they are now looking to the future.

“We’ve already had artists asking if they can be considered for next year,” says Gordon. “When we started, a very well known local painter gave us four of her paintings to show, and said that she wasn’t able to sell them.

“Within about the first half hour we had sold three of them, and I got on the phone and told her to bring some more down.”

Ms Boston adds: “Feedback from the first North Berwick Art Fair has been fantastic, and the enthusiasm has energised the arts community in East Lothian.”

The North Berwick Art Fair will open on Tuesday July 3, from 3-8pm, and run from July 4-7, from 10am-8pm. A Meet the Artists evening will take place on Tuesday, July 3, 6-8pm, at the St Andrews Blackadder Parish Church, High Street, North Berwick. Entry is free and all are welcome. For further information visit