What a week at the Wigtown Book Festival

I’ve been in Wigtown for my Artist Residency for one week – the time has just flown by and I blame it on having had such a good time.


Photo: Colin Tennant

I just can’t imagine any better working conditions. I have been given my own little studio where I have been busily cutting away. The flip side of all of this work is that the little studio has been slowly filling up with more and more work and more and more rubbish by the day… obviously I have made an effort to make things look very pretty for the photo.

Whenever I get the chance and I’ve had enough of starring at black paper and negative space I pop down a flight of stairs in order to see some of the ‘smashing’ authors speaking about their latest works. When I can’t get away, Grace, the lovely housekeeper of Wigtown’s County Buildings pops into my studio every now and then and offers cups of tea. As I say, it’s the ideal place to work from!



Photo: Colin Tennant

In the evenings there are a series of events you can go to, such as the ‘Wigtown’s got Talent’ show, a literary pub quiz designed to make you feel conscious about your lack of literary knowledge and a Ceilidh which is planned for tomorrow. After a long day I go back home to a beautiful cottage in which I share with two lovely festival flatmates, Rupert the journalist and Anne the Radio presenter. As you can imagine I have picked up a lot of new knowledge during the last week and also realised how much I need to up my game… there are big brains at every corner!

The papercut work which I installed the weekend before the Festival has been lit up all week during the hours of darkness and I am very proud to say that I have had lots of positive feedback and that the piece was even mentioned in the Telegraph. I have particularly enjoyed how the locals keep popping into my studio to let me know how much the work had become the talk of the town and how they knew exactly who the stories came from, although there are hardly any names mentioned. I feel like the locals have adopted the work and that it’s now more theirs than mine, which I like a lot. I therefore hope that I have achieved my aim of making the work accessible to all. Here’s a link to my website where you can see more images of the work.



Photo: Colin Tennant


Photo: Colin Tennant


Photo: Colin Tennant

Another exciting thing that has happened so far is having been hugged by an enthusiastic Joanna Lumley and to see her pose in front of a hoard of cameras with my work in the background. Not coming from a British background myself, I have only just become aware of how famous she is, this may have saved me from getting overly nervous when we met! After the photo shoot she came up to me and told me how much she liked my ‘Beachcomber’ project, copies of which she had seen in my studio, which I thought was very sweet!

During the following days I then completed this work and turned the entire building into something like a large backlit comic strip showing a piece of the Peter Pan story. The whole project has been made alongside my Windows of Wigtown project to raise awareness of a campaign for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust for which Joanna Lumley is the patron and which you can read about here.

peter pan upper bit-a


Photo: Colin Tennant

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Photo: Colin Tennant


Photo: Colin Tennant

I was also sent to Dumfries prison during my residency. Not for breaking into people’s homes and trying to take over their windows, which might be an obvious thought, but rather to do a workshop with some of the inmates. It was my first time in a prison and I must admit that at first it felt a bit awkward, having to leave all my personal belongings at the door and then being taken down long corridors with doors being unlocked and locked along the way. But once I met my students any reservations had disappeared and we had a jolly good time cutting up paper. And I was seriously impressed with the results!

Other workshops during this week included a local primary school class and a workshop for the children of Wigtown, some of the results of this course can be seen in the images below. Despite working with scalpels all childrens went home with all their fingers (although quite a few were covered in plasters), and I believe the papercut warning sign which you can see in the image below may have contributed to their awareness.I have collected the pieces from the children’s workshop and will be installing them in a Window of Wigtown tonight, somewhere along the main square for everyone to see. Watch out for them popping up!

It’s Friday today and I can feel how Wigtown is filling up again for the book festival’s second weekend. I’m excited to see what the weekend has in store. And also to make most use of the many visitors that are coming to town by getting some quotes off them which will then be going up in new windows for the Spring Fling in 2014!

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One thought on “What a week at the Wigtown Book Festival

  1. Pingback: Last week of exhibition at the Lighthouse Glasgow | Astrid Jaekel's Blog

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