Borders Arts Fair takes place this weekend

Belinda Glennon from Stow with her ceramic “sea pods”. Photo: Colin Hattersley.Belinda Glennon from Stow with her ceramic “sea pods”. Photo: Colin Hattersley.
Belinda Glennon from Stow with her ceramic “sea pods”. Photo: Colin Hattersley.
The Borders Art Fair (BAF) takes place this weekend, from March 17-19, at the Borders Events Centre in Kelso.

Two dozen new exhibitors including painters, printmakers and ceramicists inspired by Scotland’s wildlife and landscapes, will be taking part in this year’s fair.

BAF is the biggest event of its kind in the region and is a chance to see work ranging from landscape, wildlife and portrait painting through to animal sculptures, botanical castings, ceramics and stone carvings being shown by more than 70 artists, makers and galleries.

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Eleven of the first time exhibitors are Borders-based and include original printmaker and painter Emma Jones, ceramicist Belinda Glennon, and mixed media illustrator and artist Sara Rhys.

Belinda, from Stow, makes remarkable ceramics including “sea pods” which look as if they are encrusted with barnacles and seaweed and are inspired by the coastlines and colours of the Isle of Harris where she has strong connections.

She said: “All my work is inspired by Harris, the beauty of its coasts and seascapes. It was where my grandparents lived and we used to go there for our summer holidays – I have such fond memories of people’s warmth and the culture.”

Indeed, the former Edinburgh nurse, still visits Harris whenever she can and may even move there one day.

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Belinda will not only be exhibiting, but will also be doing a demonstration at BAF.

She said: “I had visited in the past and thought it was a lovely event, so this year felt I really wanted to take part.”

Emma, previously from Edinburgh but now living in Chirnside, began her career as a web designer but has increasingly focused on her original printmaking and painting.

As a keen runner (often in the company of Eva her Labrador/spaniel cross) and a wild swimmer she is very much inspired by a sense of connection with the natural world.

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She said: “We take a lot from nature but often feel we are not part of it. Something you realise in a beautiful part of the world like the Borders, when you are running through the woods or swimming in the sea, is that you are as much a part of nature as the trees and the oceans themselves.”

Emma, who does much of her work at Allanbank Arts near Duns, will also be doing a demonstration during BAF.

She said: “It’s the biggest event of its kind in the area and has a great mix of artists. I’d led a workshop there in 2020 just before everything shut down due to COVID but had never exhibited – this year I decided that I really should.”

Sara, from Duns, will not only be exhibiting but will also decorating the conference centre windows.

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She said: “I will be showing a selection of small sketches from a project I’m developing, depicting the 70 birds currently registered as critically endangered in the UK and some paintings.

“Visitors might also encounter me drawing on the windows as they enter the fair.

“I’m a narrative artist, and I’m most inspired by telling stories and communicating ideas. My work is generally rooted in nature, and often has a touch of the absurd, rather like me.

“I like to get out into the Borders landscape to draw. I walk a lot, either alone or with friends like Clover the English Bull Terrier, and am often thinking of stories or practicing my birdsong identification at the same time.

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“It’s my first time exhibiting at BAF and I’m primarily there to meet with others in the local creative community, I work alone so value opportunities for connection. It’s wonderful to have BAF on my doorstep.”

Frances Fergusson, director of the Borders Art Fair, is delighted by the number of new exhibitors wanting to take part.

She said: “There’s a real enthusiasm amongst artists and galleries to be part of the event and its tremendous that we have 24 new artists, with 11 from the Borders and 13 from beyond.

“It really shows how BAF’s reputation is growing all across Scotland and the rest of the UK. We always love to offer visitors the chance to see fresh work and meet new artists as well as the opportunity to see long-time favourites who take part year after year.”

BAF is a family-friendly event and will feature a great food and drink area, plus the chance to create your own masterpiece at the new pop up print studio.

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