Arriving at Marchmont House through the undulating Berwickshire landscape is a magical experience at any time. However, twice a year it becomes even more exciting when visitors get the chance to go behind the scenes of Marchmont’s growing arts’ community. The Open Studios events are organised by Marchmont Makers’ Foundation – a charity which supports local creatives and helps take art and craft to a wider audience.
The first glimpse of the grand palladian Georgian house comes on approach to the landscaped parts of this huge estate. It is a distant view, over a mile away, at the end of one of Scotland’s longest avenues. The house, built 1750, still boasts some of the finest arts and crafts interiors in Scotland, with much of the original George II period plasterwork remaining. Tours to the house and gardens are booked separately.
The Open Studios take place in the recently-restored outbuildings centred around the 200 year-old courtyard. They include the old stables, the tower, garages and squash court. These beautiful buildings have all played their part in Marchmont’s rich history. Now they’ve been transformed into creative spaces for artists and makers.
The courtyard is the hub of the Open Studios events, along with the very imposing Dancing Tree sculpture, created in iron by Borders-based artist Charlie Poulsen.
Earlier this year, other nearby buildings became silversmithing workshops and studios and a new printmaking facility is currently being created.
Another important part of the Open Studios is the popular Makers’ Market, which takes place on The Green. Here, a selection of local artists and makers, ranging from potters to painters and everything in between, showcase and sell their creations. All are very talented, with inspirational stories to tell.
Many have received help and support from the Marchmont Makers’ Foundation. The Foundation, formerly the Creative Spaces Initiative, was the brainchild of Marchmont’s owner, the late Hugo Burge, who died earlier this year. It was his aim to build a home for makers and creators, to support & inspire those in business, the arts, crafts & social enterprise. He said he wanted everyone to have a chance to channel their inner artist and help shape the world. As Marchmont’s creative community continues to grow, it’s a legacy that looks set to live on.
With thanks to Lesley McNish for this review.