Art beating through our community

An example of photographer Kevin Byrne's work
An example of photographer Kevin Byrne's work

Flame-haired,
Titian locks, ginger, auburn, carrot top, strawberry blonde; red hair comes in all shades and sizes.

And for photographer Kevin Byrne it’s the inspiration for a new exhibition that starts next week in the Howgate centre, as part of the annual celebration of local artists, Forth Valley Art Beat.

Kevin, himself a proud red head – although he admits “it’s fading away both in colour and thickness” – has spent five years photographing red heads to celebrate the striking colouring, which has such a strong Scottish connection.

And yet, despite Scots having the highest proportion of redheads in the world, he found his inpiration in the Netherlands.

He said: “I worked for a while as an advertising photographer in a small town in the Netherlands called Etten-Leur.

“They have this festival called ‘Roodharigendag’ or ‘Red Head Day’. Basically 5000 redheads travel from all over the world and spend three days celebrating nothing more than the fact they all share the same colour of hair.

“It was quite bizarre. There were a lot of Dutch people there as well, which I found quite surprising.”

“I wanted to do some work around it when I was there but that didn’t work out, so when I came back to Scotland I just thought I’d do it myself.

“It’s taken me a few years. Basically, I just pulled together all the redheads I could find!

“What I’ve done is created a backdrop that’s semi-
digitised, so that I can create some sense of uniformity.

“But basically it’s just ordinary people and their splendid red hair.”

Kevin will take two-thirds of the exhibition space, while his friend Andrew Sheriff takes the third wall.

Forth Valley Art Beat began life seven years ago as Forth Valley Open Studios, during which artists thew open their doors to invite the public in to see what was happening in their creative spaces.

Since then the event has expanded hugely.

Now, artists and organisations across central Scotland host a variety of events that include open studios, installations, temporary public artworks, popup shows, film, performance, and exhibitions in galleries and community spaces.

This is the first year the Howgate has been involved and as well as Red, it also hosts the Showcase for Strathcarron, which sees a wide variety of artists sell their work and give 20 per cent of the sale to the hospice.

The showcase is organised by professional painter and art tutor Marjorie Sime.

She has run the showcase at her own studio for several years but this year she was offered the use of the Community Hub of the Howgate Shopping Centre.

Marjorie asked if other
artists would like to join the charity event.

She said: “I am pleased to say that 37 local artists
answered the call.

Although a stuanch, long-term supporter of the hospice, Marjorie says it recently hit home just how important its work is.

She said: “In December last year my family learned first hand just how special their work is and how unique their Hospice Homecare Team are. Having spoken to many
people outside our area who do not have access to this facility made me realise that unless people support them many other families may not be so fortunate as to have the care that they do.”

The artists have also been working on a Small Canvas Project.

This consists of paintings done on 10cm x 10cm canvases, each of which is sold for £10 all of which is donated to the charity.

Artists taking part include Scottish born artist Karen van de Graaf and printmaker
David Cumming, who is inspired by old photographs of Falkirk and Grangemouth.

And the Howgate is far from the only public venue where you’ll come across artistic talent.

Forth Valley Royal Hospital will host two artists, Fiona McGurk and Emma Reid.

Both artists use their site-specific work to celebrate the work of the hospital staff and the care it gives.

FVRH staff and visitors may even have seenEmma at work in the hospital atrium, taking casts of the shape made inside our hands while we hold hands.

A collection of the plaster casts are being shown at FVRH aspart of Art Beat.

Another familiar face on the Falkirk art scene is Lesley Banks, who grew up in Denny.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate is currently enjoying a 15 month residency at Scottish Canals, funded by Creative Scotland and supported by Falkirk Community Trust and Scottish Canals.

You can visit Lesley at the old teashop in Callender Park to view the canal residency work in progress.

With over 150 artists exhibiting in a variety of venues there will be something for everyone in this annual event.

For further information see the web-site: www.forthvalleyopenstudios.com

Red is on at Howgate Centre, Falkirk, from June 11-19. Open daily 10am-5pm, except Sunday, noon-5pm.

Showcase for Strathcarron is at the Community Hub, Howgate Centre, Falkirk. Open daily, 10am-5pm except Sundays, 11am-5pm.