Our art, culture and heritage
On the edge and at the heart – Dumfries and Galloway is both of these.
It stares across the Solway to England, next stop west is Ireland and the whole of Scotland stretches out to the north and east.
This is a place of crossings, collaborations, invasions, new ideas and cherished traditions.
All have helped give this vast, rugged, beautiful region of south-west Scotland a highly distinctive artistic and cultural identity.
Beauty, faith and power are closely connected in Dumfries and Galloway’s past –medieval ruins such as Sweetheart Abbey or the magnificent triangular Caerlaverock Castle are two of many possible examples.
Perhaps most famously of all, this was the place where Rabbie Burns – Scotland’s National Bard – lived, loved and wrote some of his most famous works. Burns died in 1796 aged only 37 in Dumfries. Nearly 100 years later the young JM Barrie was educated in Dumfries and his childhood games led to the inspiration for Peter Pan.
More recently it was the amazing light of Kirkcudbright which made it a popular haunt for the Glasgow Boys. The town is packed with arts heritage and history, including Broughton House, home of the painter E A Hornel.
Creativity flourishes in D&G – it’s often claimed that there are more artists here per head of population than anywhere else in Scotland. The year starts with Big Burns Supper (complete with a huge street carnival) which is Europe’s largest winter fringe – offering a dynamic celebration of Scottish culture all wrapped round the Bard’s birthday on 25 January.
A little later comes Spring Fling Visual Art and Craft open studios event showcases close to 100 high-quality artists and makers. Kirkcudbright has a variety of festivals including an arts trail. There is also the internationally renowned Wigtown Book Festival for lovers of every kind of literature, plus the long-established Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival.
There’s no shortage of music either, whether it’s Wickerman or The World Ceilidh. On top of this there are a wide variety of museums, galleries (public and private), studios and shops available to explore and enjoy.
The future is nearly here
Ambitious – there’s no other word for it. Despite being a huge and sparsely populated region of just 150,000 inhabitants, the list of events, festivals and activities just keeps growing.
One example of this artistic enterprise is the emergence of EAFS (Environmental Arts Festival Scotland) which is due to take place for the second time in 2015. This is part of a wider drive to make D&G Scotland’s home of environmental art (it already boasts wonderful works like Andy Goldsworthy’s Striding Arches). Then there are the plans for an immense border landmark called Star of Caledonia to stand at Gretna.
Through all these things, and many more, D&G is constantly refreshing and renewing its arts and culture and building a formidable reputation as a creative heartland – great to visit, to work and to live.