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Jan Patience: Take a walk on the wild Findhorn side

© SYSTEMDiane Main’s Wild Life at Moray Art Centre
Diane Main’s Wild Life at Moray Art Centre

When Moray Council cut its entire arts budget in 2013, there was widespread outrage. But creative folk are used to facing challenges and, within a year, a new organisation, Findhorn Bay Arts, had stepped into the breach to produce the first Findhorn Bay Festival.

Having weathered the pandemic and missed its 2020 slot, this big, bonny biennial festival is back in business. The 2022 edition opened on Friday and it runs until October 2.

Visual art lies at its heart. This year, there are several art exhibitions and art activities taking place. One highlight is Cabrach Reconnections, which opens on Wednesday at Edinkillie Community Hall, Dunphail (around eight miles south of Forres).

An exhibition rooted in the local and the universal, it emerged from a lockdown project by local artists, Lynne Strachan and Mary Bourne. Last summer, they explored The Cabrach, a remote and largely depopulated upland area on the Moray side of the border with Aberdeenshire. They went on foot. Alone, together and guided by people with local knowledge.

Strachan and Bourne explored the challenges faced by this community. They organised a silver jewellery workshop and a metal casting workshop as well as photography and sketching walks. In Cabrach Reconections, they tell the story of the area’s past and its present.

Their cast iron “portraits” of inhabited houses and glass representations of derelict ones on tall beautifully crude plinths are particularly haunting.

At Findhorn’s Moray Art Centre, Moray-based artist and teacher, Diane Main, has been inspired by walking in her local woodland. In Wild Life, she delves into paths and furrows, picking through the dense foliage.

Main runs a small art studio in the Altyre Estate, outside Forres. Visitors to her show can also view a group exhibition featuring art by students and local community members, their first experience of exhibiting. In the second room, Diane exhibits works reflect her woodland walks.

Every year, during the last weekend in September, more than 50 artists and makers who live and work on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll, open their doors and invite the public to visit as part of Cowal Open Studios (COS).

It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet artists, have a nosey in their studios and ask them questions. Check out the mighty Dunoon Burgh Hall, which is part of the COS. It is hosting an exhibition featuring work by Lise Beche, Steve Benson, Carol Dewart and Paula Maughan.