Artistic flair at Allanbank

Art lecturers Oliver Reed and Gill Walton prepare to welcome their first students as they open their new Allanton based Allanbank Art Centre.
Art lecturers Oliver Reed and Gill Walton prepare to welcome their first students as they open their new Allanton based Allanbank Art Centre.

Allanbank Arts is an exciting new arts centre based in the Scottish Borders delivering a range of art based courses, workshops and opportunities for all ages and abilities from absolute beginners to professional artists.

Courses range from a ‘Young Picassos’ class aimed at children aged eight and up to ‘Portfolio Preparation’ courses for those looking to gain a place at art college to beginners ‘Still Life Techniques’. Allanbank Arts provides ‘Life Drawing’ and courses such as ‘Responding to the Environment’ that explore and engage visually with the local landscape.

Weekday courses are complemented by a series of weekend workshops to stretch the students’ abilities. It’s not all hard work though, delicious lunches are provided by the nearby Allanton Inn.

Courses start at £50 for the six week ‘Young Picassos’ class, up to £120 for a ‘Life Painting’ weekend course. The full list of courses is available on the Allanbank Arts website.

This new venture is the vision of Oliver Reed and Gill Walton who have around 30 years of lecturing experience between them. Their aim is to increase individuals’ expectations of themselves, broadening horizons and expanding potential in a non-judgemental and nurturing environment.

Oliver has been lecturing at Edinburgh College of Art for the past 12 years and Gill has lectured in England and has been teaching privately in Scotland for over four years. They are both practising artists and understand the need for continued development. With this in mind, they have put together a mentoring service where artists can arrange to meet either Gill or Oliver for a supportive and constructive critique with written feedback and comments to help people move forward.

An online mentoring service is also offered, which is believed to be the only one in existence.

Allanbank Arts is situated between Duns and Chirnside, set within the 18th century buildings and grounds of Allanbank Courtyard, once the coach house for both the Blackadder and Allanbank country estates.

Gill said: “It is a privilege to be able to work in such a beautiful and historic environment and a wonderful thing to be able to share this with other people.”

Oliver added: “As experienced practising artists and tutors our values are centred on creating a nurturing environment, through allowing individuals the space and time to explore their own creative potential; increasing individuals’ expectations of themselves, broadening horizons and expanding potential; enabling individuals to find their own visual creative voice; developing understanding of a range of materials, techniques and processes, explored through various approaches and themes.”

They believe it is important to work closely with local businesses where possible. Oliver explained: “When establishing any new venture it is important to respect other businesses and look for ways to support one another, which can only strengthen the local business community as a whole. Allanbank Arts is no exception, we are working in conjunction with a number of businesses in the Scottish Borders.

“As we deliver our weekend courses, accommodation can be taken on site with Allanbank Courtyard which offers three holiday cottages. During our weekend courses we are providing lunches prepared and delivered by the Allanton Inn, just a mile away.”

“We have also established links with businesses beyond Allanton and Allanbank,” said Gill.

“Crabtree & Crabtree offer high-end accommodation throughout the Scottish Borders, Allanbank Arts is offering a range of art courses through them starting with a residential life drawing weekend held in the luxurious surroundings of the Hoscote Estate in October and an oil painting course in November.

“We have classes for children and adults in Kelso on Wednesdays at the Vennel Gallery studios and we are also exploring teaching opportunities at Paxton House, delivering a range of art courses based on the house and grounds in 2012 including courses set in their famous picture gallery.”

Oliver and Gill will be opening their doors on September 17, for a free open day between 10am and 4pm. Members of the public can come along and see the venue, ‘have a go’ at a still life, enjoy a glass of wine along with trying a sample of the lunches and chat to Oliver and Gill.

Website; email; telephone 07702 811374.