Issue 218
September/October 2021


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Sep 27, 2021

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Top tearoom turns gallery

BOWHILL HOUSE, on the magnificent Buccleuch family estate in the Scottish Borders, has a new venture. The former tearoom for the house has been turned into a gallery – the Courtyard gallery – by Walter Dalkeith, the Earl of Dalkeith, a fine art photographer.

It was during lockdown, that he and his sister Louisa Trotter, a painter, floated the idea of having an exhibition together once this was allowed.

Louisa says: "We were very aware, as a painter and photographer, that a store of images were building in our homes with no physical outlet open through which we could display them.

"The idea of the Courtyard Gallery has been born through this need for proper curatable space in a time where there will no doubt be a large number of creators and makers in our position, each sitting on their 'wares'.

"In a way if that backlog doesn't shift it becomes harder to press forward towards newer projects. Walter and I set ourselves up as guinea pigs for the Courtyard Gallery, along with Frippy Jameson and Julia Trotter, all of us artists in the Borders, to do the very first group exhibition. It has been a leap of faith as we didn't know if there would be any interest, but it seems to have been a success and we feel very lucky!"

"The concept of refurbishing the old tearooms at Bowhill into a fresh contemporary exhibition and events space was in essence to create a place to further enhance and embrace the wonderful cultural and artistic melange that the Scottish Borders has to offer", says Walter Dalkeith.

"As the Court Yard Gallery develops, we hope to curate an exciting programme of exhibitions and events to be enjoyed both by local audiences and those further afield."

Rory Powell, House Manager at Bowhill says "We hope The Courtyard Gallery will be a popular new addition to Bowhill. The art within the House is world renowned and visitors will be able to enjoy works by local artists at the same time as well-known painters like Gainsborough, Canaletto and Reynolds.

"The gallery is currently under the control of the team at Bowhill house and grounds whose background lies in history, cultural heritage and the arts. However, as this is a new venture they are keen to see where interest lies. There is a fitting juxtaposition between where the gallery is located and the incredible art collection on display in Bowhill House managed by the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust. The Scottish Borders has seen a recent revival in important arts and crafts and The Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust recognises the importance of having spaces like this to showcase these works.

"There is a hope that the exhibition space will be interesting to makers and creators as an ideal place to rent. There is a small team at Bowhill who will also be using it for group and educational use. The space will be run seasonally alongside the rest of the house and grounds, utilising the footfall of the summer months."

Looking to the future, Rory states: "With the success of the recent summer show there may be a hope to invite a collaboration of artists each year to showcase there work. Beyond this and during the times that the estate is open seasonally there will be opportunities for artists to apply for the space. Ideally we are looking for people who are keen to show their work but essentially maintain control over their own sales and promotion. There is opportunity to use the advertising advantages Bowhill has to offer as well as the gallery being set into a beautiful destination.

"All artists are welcome, the thought of new, up and coming artists is as exciting as the established ones we hope to also attract."

Louisa says the Duke and Duchess are delighted with the space, "They are enthusiastic supporters of contemporary art and artists with a wide range of tastes. They are looking forward to what comes next for the gallery especially within the broader prospects of the Scottish Borders artistic scene.

"I think that, alongside other very exciting developments in the Borders, the Courtyard can become part of a rich and vibrant local art scene. It is still early days but gently scratching the surface of the area has already uncovered truly interesting and thought-provoking artists. Creating spaces and nurturing this side of Borders life is an important aspect not only to the gallery but that of Bowhill House (which is in itself is an example of what can be achieved through support for the arts). From this thread, hopefully a tapestry will be woven!"

Also launching this September is 'Inception' at Dalkeith Palace (part of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust) a new art sales exhibition showcasing the work of hand picked British artists. Artists' collections will be shown in 'found spaces' within Dalkeith Palace. www.bowhillhouse.co.uk

FRANCES ANDERSON


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