Forth Valley Open Studios reveals the artists living and working locally

Artist Ivor Hart in his studio in Denny, which is one of the venues open to the public as part of Forth Valley Open Studios. Pictures: Michael Gillen

Artist Ivor Hart in his studio in Denny, which is one of the venues open to the public as part of Forth Valley Open Studios. Pictures: Michael Gillen


Think of a typical artist’s studio and you might imagine a grand loft space with paint-splattered floorboards and an impressive south-facing window offering views of a pale blue sea.

While Pablo Piccaso worked from such a space for the last 12 years of his life in Mougins, a short distance from Cannes in the south of France, the reality is rather different for most painters and sculptors working in central Scotland.

Take the Artists’ Studios in Denny. Tucked away in Winchester Avenue, an unremarkable stretch of business units near Broad Street, it doesn’t look much from the outside. But what it lacks in Côte d’Azur glamour, it makes up for in creative activity and the number of fascinating works of art housed there.

Not that you would ever know without stepping through its doors.

Conveniently, it is one of 70 venues that will be open to visitors, free of charge, from Saturday, June 7, until Sunday, June 15, as part of the fifth annual Forth Valley Open Studios.

The event invites members of the public to visit the working spaces of some of the many artists based in the Falkirk district, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.

The idea is for the public to get to know some of the many artists in their communities - and find out more about the amazing artworks made on the doorsteps.

“The love of making art is a very special gift and it is a privilege to share it,” explained Lys Hansen, honorary chairwoman of Open Studios.

“This a very special year in Scotland, so let us celebrate our gifts and our heritage.”

Ivor Hart (63) is one of more than 140 artists taking part. Based in Denny, he uses traditional materials such as oils and acrylics as well as digitally-created works which draw on historical, mythological and contemporary themes.

He is keen to stress that everyone is welcome to visit his studio. No art expertise is needed nor expected.

“People should know they are free to come in, have a look around and ask questions. They should not worry about being expected to buy anything.

“This is an opportunity for people to come along and find out about what local artists have been up to.”

Ivor, a retired art and design teacher, has taken part in each of the previous Open Studios.

“Artists often work in very closed environments,” he added. “It’s great when new people visit and take an interest in what you’re doing.”

Open Studios is the largest single cultural event in Forth Valley. It was originally started as an artist-led initiative but is now registered as a community interested company (CIC).

“It’s amazing to think how the event has grown since it’s inception back in 2010,” said project coordinator Avril Nicol.

“The Forth Valley area has been an ideal location to organise an event such as FVOS due to the abundance of creative local people.

“There is a wealth of both established and emerging artists and makers, willing to share an art experience with those who choose to come and visit our community based event.

“Artists open their studios and work spaces inviting all members of the community to view their work.

“Many offer demonstrations and provide the public with an experience, taking time to engage with the audiences and explain their ideas and inspiration for their work.

“We hope visitors to the event will enjoy discovering the broad variety of interesting and inspiring studios, galleries and pop-up exhibitions. We believe we have gathered a wonderful collection of participating artists and makers to make this year’s event an exciting and diverse one.

“We believe the event is of great importance to the communities of the Forth Valley area, offering an opportunity to talk about and experience art.

“Most of all though, we aim to offer an enjoyable event for all. We hope that our fifth year is the most enjoyable yet.”

The studios taking part are organised around four coloured routes; The Trossachs, The Campsies, Falkirk and The Ochils.

Among the venues taking part in Falkirk are The Park Gallery in Callendar House and Delta Art Studios in Larbert.

Painters exhibiting work in the district are Julie Cully, Thomas Lafferty, Lesley Anne Derks, Rob Munro, Mary Ross-Tadla, Andy McGuire, Susan Smith, Leo du Feu, Linda Owens, Michelle Mathieson and Nikki Monaghan.

Catherine King will also be welcoming visitors to her studio at 8 Cannons Way in New Carron.

Specialising in painting, mixed-media and printmaking, she studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and worked as a lecturer at Forth Valley College.

Catherine has work exhibited in the Paisley Art Institute exhibition and was recently elected a professional member of the Glasgow Society of Women Artists.

“During Open Studios I hope to give some insight into my practice as an artist,” she said.

“I create work with an emphasis on technical expertise in the use of media, reflecting my professional training.

“My love of drawing and painting in situ through observation is evident with watercolours and sketchbooks available to visitors to view, including the most recent from my Italian adventure last year.

“I will also demonstrate either printing or watercolour each afternoon.”

For more information and details of all the artists and studios taking part, visit




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