HOMEGROWING Exhibition

An evening of interactive art and community celebration

3rd December 2021

community noun

a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common

art noun

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture

homegrown adjective

belonging to one’s own particular locality or country

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When I arrived home from Japan back in summer last year, and after living out of a rucksack with minimal possessions for the past two years, I had grown to miss all my art materials and books. Knowing that I was going to be spending at least a few months in my hometown, I began seeking out a space for all these things that would allow me to get creative again. 

My hometown of Stranraer in South West Scotland is a very beautiful place. It sits on a peninsula, boasting a beautiful sea loch. It has many independent businesses that are well supported, a plethora of farms providing excellent quality local produce, easy access to beautiful spots of nature and a rich and varied community of people who are doing great things for the development of the town.

As beautiful as it is, Stranraer does face many challenges. Lack of funding opportunities, infrastructure and geographical issues are just some examples that come to mind. There is also no platform for artists, as can be found with many small Scottish towns.

I have had the great pleasure of witnessing the benefits that art can bring to local communities. In 2017 during my studies at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, I volunteered at the first ever Nuart Aberdeen. This was the first project of such a scale that I was involved in that had such a visible effect on a community. Since then I’ve seeked to learn more about projects like these and my experience has led me to becoming a strong advocate for artist opportunities in my hometown of Stranraer.

With all this in mind, I set up my own art studio in town back in summer 2021. I used the space daily, and it allowed me to be creative and work on projects I had in mind. The building is a beautiful old townhouse in the town centre on the second floor overlooking the bustling high street, which inspired my work. 

As people became interested in what I was doing in the space, I decided the best way to share it was by putting on an event, with the aim of promoting the arts and the benefits it can bring to our community. I wanted to highlight the lack of creative opportunities here in the area and demonstrate how the arts can contribute towards the regeneration of Stranraer.

The show included artworks by myself and local artist Colin MacLeod, with the space providing a platform to share stories in an engaging format and encouraging people to challenge local issues. Through the arts we can celebrate our history, find beauty and utilise our attributes presently and make plans for the future.

The show intended to show a small example of the importance of taking pride and ownership of unused spaces within our community and how we, as the public, can contribute towards plans for the future of our town; whether that is through the arts, events or any other approach.

Even well before the night of the event, the show gained interest and before I knew it I had a great community of people helping me with preparations. Andersons (Stranraer) very generously sponsored the event and other local businesses supported it. I called in favours from friends and asked people working in specialist areas for their knowledge.

I want to say a huge thanks to the following people that made this event happen:

Andersons Stranraer Ltd.

Romano Petrucci

R Copeland Joinery

Scot Signs

John Dining at Sound Travels

Tigh Na Mara Restaurant

Elaine Barton from the Stranraer and District Local History Club

Charley Copeland

Shazz and Rach

Keir Thomson

Mum and Dad x

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