For the first stop on my tour of the South of Scotland with Barbour I wanted to showcase some of the local produce at the Food Town of Castle Douglas, for the second stop I wanted to reveal a very different side to the region. Kirkcudbright has become known as the Artists' Town and you only have to spend 5 minutes walking around the streets to see why. Numerous galleries, workshops and decorated spaces are evidence of the many artists that have been drawn to this pretty harbour town on the Solway Coast. Although it is only 10 miles along the road from our first stop at Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright has a very different look and feel, thanks to its coastal position complete with working harbour, splashes of bright colour and the imposing ruins of Maclellan's Castle standing guard over the town (complete with Rapunzel letting down her hair during our visit!).
Image Credit - Sean Elliott Photography for Barbour
We arrived 2 days before the opening of The Kirkcudbright Arts and Crafts Trail, an annual event where venues open their doors and public art displays take over the streets and lanes. Although we were early for the festival, we were in time to view the Kelpie Maquettes which had arrived the previous day and were already causing a buzz. If you have read my blog before you will know how much I love these sculptures by Andy Scott and although they are mini versions of the real thing I was still pretty excited to see them.
While we were waiting for the galleries to open, we had time to meander around the streets and admire the pastel coloured houses and smile at the quirky art on display every place we looked. At times Kirkcudbright feels like one big gallery, with many of the locals putting on their own little garden exhibitions and tempting you to discover more artisan treasures and curious window displays down hidden lanes. This is the kind of secret magical world that I love exploring!
Tolbooth Art Centre
With the town coming to life, we started to make our way around some of the many galleries and workshops that draw visitors to Kirkcudbright, with our first stop at the historic Tolbooth Art Centre. Dating back to 1629, the former tolbooth was once used for the council offices, sheriff courts, criminal prison and the debtors' prison before being reinvented more recently as an exhibition space and gallery. You can now find out the story of the town's artist colony in a 15 minute audio-visual show, view work by current local artists or enjoy a break in the cafe.
On your visit look out for the unusual 'Sundial Window', commemorating the work of George Higgs, who devoted his retirement years to the study of sundials. He had developed the concept of engraved sundial windows that actually functioned. with his neighbour, David Gulland, one of Scotland's leading glass artists.
The Whitehouse Gallery
Our next stop took us to The Whitehouse Gallery, which has a wide range of art & crafts from local and national artists, spread over two floors. The downstairs area is light and contemporary, with a further three cosier rooms upstairs. We enjoyed browsing among the paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture and more. It really is the kind of gallery that has something for everyone and the ideal place to find that special piece. A beautifully designed space full of arty gift and goodies, it is definitely one of the must visits in Kirkcudbright.
Ochre Gallery and Studio
I love finding out what inspires people to follow their passion in life, so I really enjoy the opportunity to meet and talk to an artist in person. At Ochre Gallery and Studio I was delighted to find not only a lovely gallery but the artist responsible for much of the work on display. Chatting with Richard Brinley, I discovered he is a man after my own heart being a fellow lover of the coast, which is one of the reasons he has chosen to base himself in Kirkcudbright. As the gallery is also his workshop, you can view his work in progress and even commission a painting of your own. You will also find a small range of items by other artists and craftspeople on display and I was delighted to pick up a card with a local scene painted by Richard, a great little souvenir of our day in the Artists' Town which fits in perfectly with the decor of my coastal flat.
To finish off our day we paid a visit to the Kirkcudbright Artist's Studios, part of Wasps Studios, a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations. Not all of the individual studios are opened to the public, however some of the artists are very happy for you to watch them at work, ask questions and purchase their finished pieces direct from them.
Galloway Forest Park
After showcasing the food and art in some of the pretty and historic towns of Dumfries and Galloway, I just had to show Barbour the wilder side of the region at Galloway Forest Park. One of my favourite places in Scotland, the hills, lochs and forests provide spectacular scenery and it's a shame so many people travel to the Highlands not realising an impressive setting like this covers a large part of the south of Scotland. We explored forest trails, waterfalls and spotted birds of prey including an impressive red kite soaring overhead.
In 2009 Galloway Forest Park gained status as an International Dark Sky Park, the only one in the UK and only one of four in the Western world. I had hoped to finish our day with some clear skies and stargazing but alas the pesky clouds had other ideas, however it was impossible to feel disappointed as we stood surrounded by such an enchanting landscape.
Original Barbour Tartan Collection - Autumn/Winter 16
Touring the South of Scotland was not only about connecting with the heritage of Barbour, but also about celebrating the launch of their Original Barbour Tartan Collection for Autumn/Winter 16. I chose items from the collection for our tour of Southern Scotland and for our visit to Kirkcudbright I opted for the Barbour Montrose Quilted Jacket (love the colour), the Barbour Arran T-Shirt (cute and fun with a Scottie dog print), Barbour Essential Slim Trousers (just love these!) and Barbour Naomi Loafers (comfortable and smart) and it looks like Sam approved of my outfit!
Credit for previous 5 images - Sean Elliott Photography for Barbour
You can read about our visit to Castle Douglas here.
My tour of Southern Scotland was in collaboration with Barbour, however as always, all opinions and experiences are my own.
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