Perthshire Open Studios Special (01)
Hello English language learners and friends of Blue Noun Language Hub in Scotland! Today, all across Perthshire artists are gathering breath after an intensive couple of weeks participating in Perthshire Open Studios. Some will have shows to take down. Others will have orders to fill (such as framing or printing to do).
For artists, it has been a busy time presenting themselves to the public – repeatedly explaining their artworks’ concepts and often demonstrating the techniques and processes that lie behind their production.
For the exhibition organisers – the last two weeks have been the culmination of years of committee-based planning and drives to generate funding, negotiations to secure participating venues and the enormous amount of work that goes into publicising such an event.
Over a series of blogs, we are going to show off some of the amazing individual artists we met during this year’s Perthshire Open Studios.
However, here in this first blog, we thought we’d take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What are the factors which make Perthshire so good for art? Is it because it is a great place to be an artist?
We’ve picked 5 factors which have helped it all happen, highlighting some of the behind the scenes support that has aided Perthshire’s creative makers in various ways. The first is about as romantic as you can get – with others practical and beautifully ingenious – just as making art is a combination of the romantic and the pragmatic, of inspiration underpinned by practical techniques.
Perhaps you are an international creative trying to pick your next holiday – or an artist looking to relocate. This blog is for you.
As usual, because we are English language coaches, we pick out in italics the English language expressions that will be most useful to the international creatives we work with. Enjoy!
01: The Perthshire Landscape is Inspirational
Let’s start with the romantic! Perthshire is an astonishingly beautiful region with a scattered but significant rural economy of artists, artisans and speciality producers either harvesting a living directly from the land and landscape or benefiting creatively from being immersed in stunning landscape. The artists and makers sell to a local market that is heavily tourism-based (although also increasingly to a global marketplace).
Perthshire has a reputation for pure, quality agricultural produce and a kind of authentic craft and skill-based art that is physically and/or emotionally linked to the land and landscape.
Tourists are attracted by the landscape and their holiday is enriched by the quality of the artworks around them: The artists need tourists – and Perthshire tourism needs qood quality and attractive art.
This year, Perthshire Open Studios had Angus Ross as its featured artist – an established, sought after furniture maker and someone who perfectly epitomises that synergy between the Perthshire landscape and art and crafts that so many Perthshire artists have in their heart. He literally creates from the landscape, listening to what the wood tells him, “transforming local trees into exquisite furniture“.
” It can be thought of as a handshake with wood in that both the maker and the timber bring their experience and each bend is slightly different.”
Angus Ross for the Perthshire Open Studios Website, 2021
02: The Perthshire Open Studios Events and Network
This annual event absolutely has to be near the top of anyone’s list. In the past, the very rural nature of Perthshire makers’ lifestyles had people working quite independently from each other – even without knowledge of each other. Since 2008, Perthshire Open Studios has been linking up this local talent and promoting it, not only giving artists an important annual opportunity to sell their works to new audiences, but also to connect with peers, network and share resources.
Annually, around 200 artists and makers across Perthshire, Kinross-Shire and other neighbouring counties open their studios to the general public, making it one of the highlights in the calendar of Arts events in Scotland.
03. (Nationwide) An Enabling, Flexible Legal Structure
Ok so it’s not romantic at all but it should be noted that Perthshire Open Studios is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and not-for-profit organisation. This is an incredibly smart legal business structure that has been in existence in the UK since 2004. Essentially, CIC structure means any profits made get redirected back into the business to further empower it to help its community.
A CIC doesn’t have shareholders. It has a committee and a board of directors who are responsible for ensuring that the business benefits its members (artists in the case of POS) and its wider community (Perthshire).
The CIC structure is behind many art organisations in the UK which is one of the reasons we have such good and varied artists opportunities. It also makes it quite easy for small grassroots groups to set up on their own, begin small and grow.
Perthshire Open Studios has grown to a size where it attracts international and national tourism, generates income for participating artists and contributes across the local economy.
The importance of the creative economy is constantly underestimated. Nationwide, Scotland’s creative industries contribute more than £5 billion to the Scottish economy every year. (Scottish Government website).
Our creative sector showcases how well CICs can work. Just imagine if more private sectors took on CIC status and priorities – and more countries offered CIC status. It’s absolutely world changing – one community at a time.
“Perthshire Open Studios makes a significant contribution to the local economy and generates local community art and craft events throughout the year”.
Perthshire Open Studios website
04: Growbiz & Perthshire Artisans | There’s a New Network in Town.
Recently, a network called Perthshire Artisans has been set up by business development gurus Growbiz .
Growbiz aid all kinds of businesses across the rural Highland and Perthshire by providing business help, advice and resources for free.
Pre-COVID, this included organising peer-to-peer events for different sectors, including regular meet-ups for the creative sector.
One of the cleverest Growbiz strategies was offering food (like we do!) – luring folks to travel rural distances when it would be easier to stay at home on a damp night. The food united participants in conversation in a relaxed way, making every person battling for their business feel a little more relaxed, refreshed and empowered by the generosity and friendliness of the evenings. Conversations were powerful: ideas generated and collaborations fruitful.
Through listening to the participating artist and artisans during the creative peer meets – a new network took shape and is currently in its second phase of launching.
Perthshire Artisans aims to market and publicise Perthshire’s makers as a whole – and even admin for them – outsourcing the essential business tasks and freeing up time for the makers to get on with what they are so skilled at – making: the best time investment they can put into their business.
For example, in one of the start up meetings, the time lost in posting and packaging was discussed. Instead of having 50 artists losing hours in a post office queue every month, could this be outsourced as a service? Packaging up artworks too? The economies of scale make this a very good idea but with such variations between artworks (weight/presentation/packaging) the logistics still need figured out. (Different solutions are currently being trialled).
The overall concept of promoting quality Perthshire artists as a whole, within one single e-commerce website is fantastic and a very healthy thing for the whole of the Perthshire tourist economy.
05: Perthshire Creates & Culture Perth and Kinross
These two bodies are both administered by Perth and Kinross council. One aspect of Perthshire Creates was an early network attempting to link artists together, but the need for this is now getting met by the combination of POS and Perthshire Artisans. However, it is still a go-to resource for citizens wanting to get involved in art.
Perthshire Creates and the wider Culture Perth and Kinross organisation have an online database of venues and workshops and classes.
Perhaps most interestingly they also manage ‘Maker Spaces,’ which have inserted cutting edge technology into certain local libraries across rural Perthshire.
Any library user can book and use Adobe Creative Cloud, an Ultimaker3 3D printer, iPad based 3D scanning equipment robotics and coding equipment and a A3 large format scanner. Not bad for rural Scotland! Commercial use is charged but I believe that personal use is still free.
This investment in the creative potential of our communities is absolutely remarkable. Not only can anyone local have access to new tools, it will also further attract creative professional talent from urban areas who previously were bound to cities because their profession required access to this kind of thing.
“With hundreds of creatives to discover across the area (5,286 km²), it can be a geographical challenge to stay informed, yet this is also what makes it so exciting. It may be music, visual arts, dance, theatre, creative writing, spoken word, poetry, film, contemporary craftsmanship and more that interests you, discovering the creative and cultural diversity where you might not be expecting to, all add to the quality of living in or visiting Perth & Kinross.”.
Perthshire Creates Website
Bonus reason: Perthshire’s International Artistic Connections Hub
Ahem, that’s us!
Blue Noun are a specialist English language school (we prefer ‘language hub’) which offers mini-groups and individuals English language training specifically targeting language for creative professionals.
Our English language school is based in Crieff, Perthshire for the very reason of being able to offer our language guests quality encounters with talented artist-makers across the region. Our guests are largely professional makers themselves. With us they practice professional English language skills with local creatives in real immersive, professional contexts.
At Blue Noun we love chatting about all things art and celebrate having excellent, talented people all around us to do it with. We facilitate real cultural and creative exchanges happening, whether it’s in our language learning space – the Blue Noun Hub – or out and about visiting studios and workshops.
We also love showing off the beauty of Perthshire and the food and craft produce that is making it world-famous. Our whisky tastings are legendary!
Our business is also intended to be of benefit to the artist/maker economy of Perthshire. We bring our international creative guests into studios for a genuine exchange of cultures and art-making. Yes it’s an English lesson, but it is so much more! (Plus we pay all our artists and guest speakers for their time)
Come and join us for an English language learning holiday and grab a taste of Perthshire!
Find out about Perthshire Open Studios here.
Discover the beautiful works by Angus Ross here.
Read about the company structure of a CIC here.
Find the Perthshire Artisans e-commerce store and website here.
Discover Growbiz here.
Discover Perthshire creates here.
Check out the amazing traditional letterpress Quarto Press here.
We hope that you have enjoyed looking at some of the forces behind a creative Perthshire.
We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. There’s something for everyone.
If you’ve liked this blog, you might want to read about a recent art exhibition with a difference (the art was made by musicians not artists!).
Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:
If you could choose your perfect studio, would you pick a city or the countryside?
What would you like to have?
What must you have?
Notice that in the answer to would you use the infinitive of the verb.
Eg. I would like to be surrounded by trees. I would like to work alone.
When you use must, just use the stem of the verb.
Eg. I must have internet access. There must be a regular bus.
Write as much as you like, and if you would like us to check & correct your English, write CP (correct please) at the end.
Live language learning!