Plans to turn the gardens of Mellerstain House into Scotland’s largest open air gallery are now well underway.
The steering group behind the Borders Sculpture Park (BSP) project believes the facility will, in time, rival the world famous Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield which pulls in 300,000 visitors a year and features works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and other internationally renowned sculptors.
The team responsible for the Mellerstain initiative has received £10,000 in lottery funding to commission a five-year business development plan and a programme of community consultation and engagement.
And tenders are being sought from potential contractors before a deadline of January 28. The successful bidders, who will be selected next month, will have until May to complete these pieces of work.
Open for 10 months a year, the BSP will build its art collection through long-term loans and donations, but it will also commission new work as well as staging temporary and solo group exhibitions.
“The BSP will run projects which enrich and extend public perceptions of sculpture, connect with the history and ecology of the site and the region and seek to explore new models of engagement in the contemporary art sector,” said project manager Jane Malloch. “The park will be responsive, research driven and inclusive.
“A residency programme for early career, mid career and established artists will be integral.”
Lady Jane Haddington, a project trustee, told ‘The Berwickshire’: “After a long time in the planning, we can begin to feel something tangible and the business plan and community engagement programme will drive us forward.
“Given a fair wind with the fundraising which will inevitably be required, I am hopeful that our first exhibitions will take place in the summer of 2015.
“The park itself will evolve and expand over time- the business development plan will concentrate on what we can achieve in the first five years.
“It is important that what we create addresses the inequalities which exist in public access to the visual arts.”