Creative Coathanger has Gala and Selkirk hooked

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Galashiels and Selkirk were flooded with creative juices at the weekend as the Creative Coathanger festival got in full swing.

From paintings to performances, crafts and creations, the public turned up in their droves to witness the best artistic talents in the Borders and beyond.

Festival director Mark Timmins said the events so far have gone better than he could have hoped for.

He told the Southern: “It has been amazing.

“Saturday dawned with the most beautiful weather, and I’d say around 150 people turned up first thing to watch the mural being unveiled.”

The mural, which is a huge piece of artwork now in its permanent home at the side of the Grapevine Restaurant in Douglas Bridge, Galashiels, was painted by Edinburgh artist Chris Rutterford to celebrate the arrival of the Flying Scotsman.

It depicts – among other local celebrities – writer Walter Scott, footballer John Collins, rugby star Chris Paterson and 94-year-old ice-cream man Adam Kelly, alongside telly host Lorraine Kelly, who the artist has a soft spot for, and a huge cast of Gala folk who paid to be painted into the delightfully colourful picture.

Lord Steel, who unveiled the painting and is also featured in it, said of the festival: “Galashiels is alive and buzzing, and it is going to grow again.”

Also in Douglas Bridge was the Creative Coathanger hub, where locally-produced crafts were sold, art was displayed and contacts made.

A fantastic exhibition of woodsman Tim Stead’s work was also in the hub.

There were also displays of art and music in various venues throughout the town centre, including the MacArts building, Trinity Church and several shops that would otherwise have been empty.

Mark said that the people who gave demonstrations of their work said that they were delighted.

He said: “The Borders Forest Trust said they had more people interested in what they do than they would normally get in six months.

“And the open studios were also well attended – artist Janice Cleghorn says she made £200 for the Macmillan cancer charity, and Wasps Studios in Selkirk reported hundreds of people through the door ... the place was buzzing.”

All the artistic flair is engineered to increase footfall in the town.

He said: “We are also hoping to get some of the landlords of the empty shops interested.

“If they can see that more footfall can be generated through events like this, then they can then show that to prospective clients.

“And venues such as Grapevine and Turnbulls are trying to instill something of a cafe culture, with seats outside for people shopping, and creating a bit of a buzz.

“We want people to see that there is more to do in Galashiels rather than just going to the supermarkets for their big monthly shop and then going away again.”

The festival closes this weekend, with the Selkirk Sessions and Scott’s Selkirk celebrations.