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Moray Artist Gear Up for Art Event

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Willow coffin making, kilt making, silversmithing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, wood carving and live demonstrations will form part of an art trail kicking off in Moray later this month.

Twenty-five creators have joined forces to form the Moray Coast Artists Trail to put Moray on the map when it comes to being creative.

They are all taking part in the North East Open Studios (NEOS) which runs from September 9 to 17.

Over the course of the nine days they will open their studios to members of the public and will meet and greet them, and in some cases perform demonstrations, or give visitors the chance to have a go at being creative.

Karen Collins who owns heritage crafts company Naturally Useful at Marcassie Farm in Rafford near Forres is putting on a variety of workshops over the NEOS period.

She said:

“We have lots of workshops planned – including creating amazing prints on silk scarves using natural dyes, basket making and crafting a willow dragonfly.

“One of our key events is an open day, in collaboration with the charity Pushing up the Daisies, where people can see a willow coffin and woollen shroud being made.” 

Forres-based bespoke kilt maker Andrea Chappell of Acme Atelier also champions heritage crafts.

She creates kilts in both historic and contemporary styles that become wearable works of art.

Following the Art Trail, nearby in Forres you will find painter Maggie New, who creates luminous, contemporary semi-abstract landscapes and still life paintings, working mainly in oil.

Visitors can gain a real insight into both the techniques and inspiration used by the NEOS artists and makers.

In Findhorn and Forres, ceramicists Vera Bohlen, of Claysongs Ceramics, and Iain Campbell of Ceramics at the Annexe, are both inspired by the natural world, and both use techniques such as raku and smoke firing, but they create their own unique, and very different works.

In her hillside studio at Wester Lawrenceton, near Forres, painter Jude Edgar will reveal the secrets of how she creates textures and sparkle in her acrylic seascapes.

In Dallas, there is a hidden gem of a studio at Hillockhead Farm, where you can discover how Duke Christie creates his spectacular wood sculptures and furniture using sustainably sourced hardwoods “inspired by the mountains, rivers and sea”.

These are just a few of the studios open to visitors.

Over the course of the nine days, 270 creators and artists who have signed up, open their studios to the public from Forres to Stonehaven. 

Full details of everyone who’s taking part can be found on the NEOS website: northeastopenstudios.co.uk and on the newly launched NEOS app.

The impulse to form the Moray Coast Trail came from a group of twelve creators who exhibit together as Moray Artists.

They are Dina Leigh, Udo Reiss, Vera Bohlen, Stuart McAllister, Iain Campbell, Karen Collins, Jude Edgar, Iona Hall, Alison Johnston, Iona Leishman, Duke Christie and Maggie New.

Alison Johnston, one of the Moray Artists group, is a Duffus-based painter whose daughter Iona Hall, a silversmith is also taking part in NEOS. 

Alison said:

“There is an amazing amount of creativity in Moray and we want to ensure that people know that they can enjoy a huge range of different styles of art right here on their doorstep.

“On the NEOS website and the Moray Artist’s Facebook page you can also find the Moray Coast Trail map to help plan your own tour.”

She added:

“Stepping into someone’s studio is a real eye opener and people will be able to learn about the artistic process, speak with the artists and in some cases, even have a go at creating.”

As ceramicist Vera Bohlen notes:

“One of the great things about the NEOS Moray Coast Trail is that if you decide to visit a few of us, not only will you experience some brilliant artwork and creativity and meet some wonderful people, but with the studios spread from Dallas, Rafford, Califer, Forres, Kinloss, Findhorn to Duffus and beyond, you’ll be travelling some beautiful parts of the country too. You really can make this a great day out.”

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