Larbert arts organisation prepares to celebrate 20th anniversary

An arts organisation which started in a Larbert home nearly 20 years ago has gone on to create its very own community of stars whose exhibitions regularly attract hundreds of guests.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 1:40 pm

Whether you’d like to learn how to draw or paint, bind a book or improve your photography skills, D2 The Creative Centre has it covered.

Originally called Delta Studios, the business began in founder Craig Mckechnie’s home in Carronvale Road, Larbert in 2002.

It’s since laid its foundations in the town’s Lochlands Business Park where artists of all ages and abilities gather on a daily basis to produce a range of work.

From left: Adam Mckechnie, D2 The Creative Centre director; Hania Smith, lead tutor; Kat Nicolson, art coordinator and tutor; and Craig McKechnie, creative director. Picture: Michael Gillen.

D2 is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary early next year and director Adam McKechnie, who took over from his dad in 2020, couldn’t be prouder of all the company has achieved.

The 32-year-old said: “We’re one of a kind in the Central Belt.

“We’ve been there for about 20 years and we’re bringing art into the community. We’re a private company but we’re kind of a care company too because we work with Falkirk Council and Stirling Council and they send us lots of social work clients.

“We hold exhibitions that can have up to 1000 people and we have lots of specialist craft parties. We also rent loads of studios out to small businesses, so it’s a thriving wee community!

Craig McKechnie originally set up D2 The Creative Centre as Delta Studios. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“My dad took a chance because he knew the owners of the industrial estate. It started off quite small and it’s just grown and grown over the years.

“We used to just have a couple of clients who came through the social work. Now we have 20 clients who come regularly.

“We rent studios to people who have lots of different businesses, like instrument and dog bandanas producers to jewellery makers and other artists.

“I’m not an artist but I wanted D2 to grow in the family and in the community. I think it’s such a great resource so I wanted to keep it going.”

Larbert-based D2 The Creative Centre offers various art and craft activities for kids, teens and adults. Picture: Michael Gillen.

D2 – named after the unit in which the business is based – is certainly a hub of activity, as the tutors who look after the 70-odd children in its summer school will attest to.

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During term time, the organisation welcomes around 130 youngsters each week.

From five-year-olds to those in their 90s, the facility caters for a multitude of people.

Father and son duo Craig and Adam Mckechnie are proud of the reputation their family-run arts company, D2 The Creative Centrem, has built up. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Between Monday and Friday, you’ll find morning and afternoon sessions for adults and evening sessions for youngsters. At the weekend, D2 hosts all-day children’s activities.

Its management need only reflect on D2’s humble beginnings to realise how far the firm has come – and how much it’s transformed.

Torwood resident Adam continued: “We moved because of the amount of footfall, with the people who come in to rent studios from us and all the artists that come through the week and the children.

“It could be upwards of 200 people in and out the building every week. When we first started, we only did one class and now we’re having to do classes every day of the week!

“We’ve got 80 to 90 people on a waiting list. A lot of children come to us and stay up to adulthood.

“We have training classes; we do portfolio classes for people who want to go to university. We also started doing specialist craft classes.

“We’ve got a sold-out book-binding course coming in September and a photography course.

“We’re working closely with the people who rent studios with us.

“We’re private company but it’s a weird one – and councils say it – we’re such a community business as well. We’re seen as a social care provider and community centre.”

That inclusiveness is vital to those behind the scenes at D2.

It also makes no difference to the tutors whether someone has had their work published professionally or is starting with a blank canvas, all that matters is enthusiasm.

Adam explained: “Everybody is in the same boat, working together and nothing is too much.

“We don’t run an actual course – we’re not like a college or university course.

“People come and flourish and some have gone on to art schools and universities and become quite well-known artists, like Lesley Anne Derks.

“She sells her artwork all over the UK and she’s come to us since we were in the house. It’s a thing where once people come, they stay. I’ve known a lot of people there most of my life.

“It’s all about the community. We’ve just started to work with care homes as well and we’re also in talks about getting art into Ladeside and Stenhousemuir primary schools.

“We want to bring more art into the community, rather than people bringing it to us. We want to go to the people who can’t come to us.”

Among the myriad highlights over the years have been the displays D2 has put on – one of which was almost opened by Ewan McGregor.

Unfortunately, the actor couldn’t attend due to travel commitments but a 2019 exhibition featuring fire breathers, dancers and singers, which drew in almost 1000 visitors, more than made up for the Trainspotting star’s non-attendance.

Adam views the connection D2 has built up with local businesses as his biggest personal achievement.

He added: “It’s such a multipurpose centre now.

“We want to get into the schools and we’re going to rent space to Falkirk Art Club, which is a completely separate organisation.

“We’re also in talks with Stirling Art Club. They want to hold an exhibition with us so we’re thinking of doing a Forth Valley exhibition.

“No matter what ability you’ve got, no matter how much you think you can or can’t do art, come along, try our classes and start your creative journey – you never know what’ll happen.”

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