Borders youths display creative talent in show

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A new pop-up exhibition of artworks created by young Borderers will be on show this weekend at Abbotsford House.

The King of the Clarty Hole: Sir Walter Scott Meets the Youth will be shown as part of the Creative Coathanger Festival.

The house, which contains Scott’s extraordinary collection of historical artefacts and curiosities, provided inspiration for a group of local young people, who worked with staff from the National Galleries of Scotland’s (NGS) community outreach team to explore the literary and historical heritage of their area.

The result is a spectacular site-specific installation, which will be on show in the grounds of Abbotsford House on October 1 and 2 ... the same weekend that Creative Coathanger will transform the town centre of Galashiels into a creative hub, with empty shops and outdoor spaces turned into exhibitions by artists, designers and makers, pop-up studios, art installations, makers demonstrations and markets

At Abbotsford, five giant silhouette figures, based on a set of characters created by the group, will rise up from the Haugh to form a dramatic tableau, reminiscent of a toy theatre set blown up to a large scale. They can be viewed from the battlements of the house itself, or discovered on walks through the grounds.

The characters belong to an invented narrative which draws upon the young people’s exploration of Abbotsford and other sites associated with the writer.

The same narrative is also woven into a fascinating film made by the youngsters, in which a fictional writer, a contemporary and friend of Scott called Bertimus Jerfordson, develops the story in which the silhouette characters appear, a tale concerning the site of Abbotsford – originally known to locals as ‘Clarty Hole’ – and its erstwhile mythic king. The film will be specially screened in the education centre in Abbotsford House and in the shop window of the Tomorrow’s People store in the centre of Galashiels.

The artists were part of a course led by Mark Timmins, project manager of Galashiels Works (Tomorrow’s People), who said: “The project has developed skills and confidence in the young people that could not have been developed in any other way.”

Robin Baillie, senior outreach officer at the NGS, commented on the importance of the project.

He said: “This has been a very exciting project to work on, and our aim has been to develop in the young people taking part an awareness of the local heritage of the Borders, as well as the Scottish national art collection.”

Giles Ingram, CEO of The Abbotsford Trust, said: “Working in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tomorrows People Project has been exciting and illuminating. “

“We are sure that the art installation will add value to Abbotsford for the younger enthusiasts and will serve to encourage more visitors in the future.”

The exhibition is also part of Celebrating Scotland’s Art – The Scottish National Gallery Project.