New Creative Festival To Support Restoration of Scottish Cultural Hub

A new Festival of Everything Creative is supporting the restoration and transformation of one of Scotland’s former cultural hubs. Creative Coathanger (Saturday 24 September to Friday 9 October 2016) will showcase a wide range of events many of them free, which celebrate the rich cultural heritage and burgeoning creative industries of the Scottish Borders.

Creative Coathanger, launched for the first time during Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Design and Architecture 2016, is being championed by a group of community leaders volunteering their own time to drive regeneration in the area through everything creative. The team has brought together a huge range of events, exhibitions, film showcases, open studios, exclusive one off pop up shops, workshops, performances, and even a craft beer festival - all under one banner. Activities focus in the towns of Galashiels, Selkirk and Hawick – where many of the world’s leading designers, including Chanel, Dior and Vivienne Westwood, have sourced their textiles.

Event highlights include:
• The unveiling of The Flying Scotsman Mural – the renowned Edinburgh-based artist Chris Rutterford will reveal his final Flying Scotsman Mural on 1 October in the gateway to Galashiels. Chris specializes in artwork to stimulate energy and regenerate businesses. The mural will capture the scene of the iconic locomotive, The Flying Scotsman visiting the town earlier this year. Locals have been given the opportunity to feature in the crowds that will appear on the wall. Free.
• Transforming Galashiels into Everything Creative – Over the first weekend in October, the whole town centre of Galashiels is to be transformed in a way that showcases the wide range of creative industries in the area. It will include an opportunity to design coathangers with festival sponsor, Mainetti. Free.
• National Galleries of Scotland Exhibition – Participants from the local young person’s charity Galashiels Works, will display their art showcasing their perceptions of Sir Walter Scott in contemporary society. This is a collaborative exhibition between the National Galleries of Scotland, Abbotsford House (the home of Sir Walter Scott) and Tomorrow’s People (an employment charity that works with those facing multiple barriers to employment and equips them with the skills and confidence they need to get and keep a job). 1 -2 October. Free
• Moving Image Makers Collective Mini Film Festival – The Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival. Taking place at MacArts, a unique venue saved from demolition by the formation of a local community arts trust, this mini film festival will give a taste of the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival (an international festival of experimental film and artists’ moving image based in the Borders). The showcase will include a special showcase by the famous French Director, Jacques Percontes.
• PechaKucha - a series of presentations at MacArts on 6 October by Borders based designers, makers and shakers. PechaKucha night now takes place in over 900 towns and cities globally. It was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Free.
• Gala Woolscape Project - Wool Craft workshops with the artist Jennie Howes at the historic Old Gala House making an installation piece depicting Galashiels. Suitable for all abilities aged 14 to Adults. Takes place every Saturday to 22nd October 2016. Each workshop is £20 and includes some take home materials.
• Tempest Brewery Oktoberfest - a full day of live music, craft beer, local food and a limited number of brewery tours at the Tempest Brewery in Tweedbank, Galashiels. Date: 24 Sep. Tickets: £15
• Open Studios - The 13 artists based in WASPS Studios in St Mary’s Mill, Selkirk open their doors to the public on the weekend of the 1 and 2 October. StudioSara7 in Selkirk will also open her studio on 2 October.
• Open doors days
o showcasing the wide range of creative industries in the area, a selection of companies will open their doors to the public – some for the first time. Participating companies include Stewart Technology (electronic manufacturing services), Schofield’s Dyers & Finishers and Heriot Watt School of Textiles (one of the first textile schools in the world, which is based in Galashiels).
o The Scottish Borders Manufacturers Association (which is the oldest of it’s kind in the world) will be supporting the open doors of textile industry – throughout festival.
• Selkirk Sessions – a traditional music festival from 7 to 9 October.
• Workshops - where participants will learn to make a range of creative items including felted soap, weaved wall hangings, corsets, lampshades, acrylic jewellery, beading and embroidery. There will even be a workshop on how to plan a wedding.
• Sculpting the Past (Exploring The Art And History Of George Sutherland & Sons Sculptors, Galashiels) - A stone carving exhibition created by a third generation stone carver. Founded in 1881, this business ran for three generations over 118 years, becoming the foremost sculptors and monumental masons in the south of Scotland. The exhibition runs from 1 September to 9 October and shows the family history across two world wars. Free.

Other festival events include a Masonry Demonstration by experts from Historic Scotland, an exhibition showcasing everyday buildings, a Live Borders Creative Cycle Trail, Sculptural Eco Art Installations, a Pop Up Shop showcasing the work of local young creative entrepreneurs funded by the Princes Trust and a craft and makers fair.

The festival’s programming for the first year has been so successful that they have secured funding from Creative Scotland, Mainetti, Brand Satellite, New Arts Sponsorship and the Phone Co-op. It has also secured support from many other respected bodies and organisations such as VisitScotland, Historic Scotland, Borders Community Rail Partnership, Arts & Business Scotland, the Moving Image Makers Collective and the Alchemy Film Festival, The National Galleries, Live Borders and Heriot Watt University.

Explaining the importance of the festival, Mark Timmins, one of the festival directors for Creative Coathanger said:
“As the home of the once booming textiles industry, authors like Sir Walter Scott, the inspiration for poems such Robert Burns Braw Lad’s O’ Gala Water and famous art collections in the area, the Borders has a plentiful, unique and world famous creative heritage. This success continues today across everything creative, with some of our greatest exports including the actor and star of the TV series Outlander Grant O’Rourke, contemporary artists like Ant Macari and textiles sought-after by some iconic fashion brands like Chanel, Dior and Vivienne Westwood. The area has even attracted bands as big as the Rolling Stones. We believe that all of this should be celebrated and further creative talent positively encouraged. Creative Coathanger exists to encourage a range of individuals and organisations to hang their events from our festival.

“We’re starting small this year with Creative Coathanger, but we believe this is just the start. We aim to follow in the footsteps of other similar creative festivals from all over Scotland in the years to come.”

Karen Dick, Place, Partnerships and Communities Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Coathanger provides an important platform to bring the community in Galashiels and the Scottish borders together to discover local artists, performers and those working across the creative industries in their area. The Scottish Borders are world renowned for their textiles and we are delighted to support this festival which encompasses such a wide range of creative practice.”

VisitScotland Regional Director Doug Wilson said: “The establishment of the new Creative Coathanger arts festival represents a real commitment to further enhancing our region’s tourism offering and attracting more visitors to the Scottish Borders, an area renowned for its links to the textiles, fashion and design industry.”

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Sport, Youth and Communities, said: “The coming of Borders Railway and the recent surge in creative energy around Galashiels has resulted in this exciting new festival. It showcases the very high quality of Border designers, artists, creative businesses and general creative talent in the Borders, all of which have gone largely unnoticed by the rest of Scotland for far too long. There are too many highlights to hang on one coathanger - this is a whole designer wardrobe full of creative delights.”

For more more about the festival or ticketing visit their website, you can also keep up to date with Creative Coathanger on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.