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[INTRODUCING GROUNDBASE] [PROJECTS UNDERWAY : 1998-1999]
[CONTACTING GROUNDBASE] [TRANSNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 1998-1999]
'The Italian Connection' :
Graham Platt, Programme Executive with Groundbase Limited, who operate the LEADER II European Community Initiative in Dumfries and Galloway, organised the visit with Clare Philips, the Regional Cultural Development Officer. This was as part of a developing transnational project involving LEADER groups from the Emilia Romagna Region of Northern Italy and a French group based in Saint Ètienne-en-Coglés, Brittany.
The aim of the project is to build up trade links between the three regions in the Arts and Crafts sector and, more specifically, to seek export opportunities for the Artists and Craftworkers from Dumfries and Galloway, who number in excess of 700.
The Craft Fair in the small picturesque tow of Fanano coincided with the town's 15th annual Syposium of Sculpture. 10 Sculptors from around the world each work for a three week period on a block of local sandstone to create a piece of work on the theme of 'pilgrims' (Fanao is on a recognised pilgrim's route from the North of Italy to Rome). The completed work is then given a permanent site in the town to join the other 200 existing sculptures from previous Symposia. Fanano is a fascinating open-air museum of stone sculptures.
The town's huge ice-rink was the venue for the Craft Fair and featured stalls from Italy, Finland and Germany, as well as Dumfries and Galloway.
Two local craftworkers from Dumfries and Galloway, Lizzie Farey (basketmaker) from Castle Douglas and Louise Martin (tapestries) from Auchencairn, were on hand to give demonstrations of their traditional crafts which attracted a lot of interest from the public and local artisans. Lizzie Farey tried her hand at chairmaking, combining her skills with those of a local craftsman.
Lizzie Farey, Basketmaker
Louise Martin, Tapestry Maker
Local fiddler Roger McCann and traditional singer Dave McFadzean , both from Moniaive, provuided a taste of Scottish music and song throughout the event and struck up a good rapport with the two Breton musicians, - an Accordionist and a Breton Piper.
Roger McCann, Fiddler
A Sculptor at Work
Clare Philips was responsible for the Dumfries and Galloway stand, which included examples of Artwork, Jewellery, Wood Products, Cushions, Hand-Knitted Garments, Pottery Ceramics and Willow Baskets. The stand received many favurable comments; although actual sales were a little disappointing, the products were recognised as being of high quality.
Clare commented :-
"The Arts Team and Groundbase are developing a number of exciting projects with other LEADER organisations that will be of great benefit to the Arts and Crafts in Dumfries and Galloway. Some of the cultural initiatives will help develop and build on existing activities such as Gaelforce, others are to create new events and opportunities for artists. We hope that the collaborations made by us will be seen as a model for other rural areas."
This event was the first of a series of similar planned events with the Breton group hosting a smaller symposium of sculpture, and an Art day in the town of Bazouges-la-Pérouse. Dumfries and Galloway will host the third leg, when the Italian and Brittany regions will each be sending Craftworkers, Musicians and a Chef, to take part in the Langholm Festival of Arts, Crafts, Music and Food, over the final weekend of August 1999.
Graham Platt of Groundbase said :-
"Although our main priority is to assist the small businesses of Dumfries and Galloway, an integral part of the LEADER Programme is to develop working relationships with others of the 900 LEADER areas across Europe.
This particular project involving three regions, each with a strong craft sector is a very exciting project with obvious potential to develop and to expand trade links between the Regions.
Our initial discussions with the other LEADER groups in Fanano indicated a lot of common ground and we hope to progress this project to the benefit of the Dumfries and Galloway Craft sector. In July there will be further discussions in Brittany to progress this project and other ideas."