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Six ways to get creative in Cowal!

Six ways to get creative in Cowal!
The unique landscape and light of the Cowal peninsula have inspired generations of artists and craftspeople. From the seaside town of Dunoon to the villages of Argyll’s Secret Coast, you’ll find a vibrant, friendly and welcoming cultural scene with everything from open studio events to art workshops on offer. Here are six ways that you can get creative in Cowal.

1. Follow the art trail
One of the major events of the year is the Cowal Open Studios, when over 40 Cowal artists – painters, potters, sculptors, furniture makers, jewellers, textile artists and photographers – throw open the doors of their studios to the public. It’s a great way to meet the makers, see their work and experience the landscape that inspires them. Some of the artists offer workshops too. Highlights include Guy Elder’s wonderful wooden sculptures, Bill Williamson’s witty work in stoneware and Anne E. Ferguson’s beautiful glasswork. Anne works in a converted chapel in remote Glendaruel, which is a stunning place to visit. This year guest artists from Art Map Argyll will be exhibiting at the Burgh Hall Pop-up Shop. Cowal Open Studios runs from 23rd to 26th September 2016.

2. Make your art escape
Set your creativity free with an Art Escapes Argyll residential art workshop on Argyll’s Secret Coast. Run by Tighnabruaich Gallery, the five-day workshops are led by some of the gallery’s leading artists. They’re held in Waterside, a unique studio space built, literally, on the seawall at the back of the gallery overlooking the Kyles of Bute. The views from the outdoor deck are just stunning. It’s the perfect place for watching the ever-changing light and weather over the surrounding landscape. You’ll also head out to the area’s forests and beaches to seek inspiration. Art Escapes Argyll runs day workshops too (how does ‘A Day To Meet With Clay’ sound?) and a number of other creative collaborations and projects.

3. Get creative at Cowalfest
There’s plenty of opportunity to flex those creative muscles at Cowalfest, Cowal’s walking and outdoors festival. As well as guided walks and outdoor activities, there will be dancing, music evenings, art-based events, exhibitions, poetry, meditation and more. And don’t miss the chance to take part in the Cowalfest photography competition, which runs throughout the festival. Cowalfest runs from 7th - 16th October 2016

4. Check out the gorgeous galleries
Cowal is home to some fabulous art galleries. Tighnabruaich Gallery on Argyll’s Secret Coast showcases a fantastic range of contemporary art and crafts from established and emerging talents, both local and national. The gallery is run by artist Robbie Baird, who firmly believes that art should be engaging and challenging – so don’t expect twee west coast scenes! Pay a visit to The Diary Gallery at Carry Farm near Tighnabruaich too. Fiona McPhail produces knitted textiles using yarn from her Hebridean sheep. She creates a variety of beautiful objects from cushions and tea cosies. Her sister Karen makes fabulous, functional pottery. Juno Gallery in Dunoon is another treasure trove, selling contemporary art and crafts. The exhibitions showcase some of the finest local design and artistic talent. Blairmore Gallery in Blairmore on the banks of Loch Long is also well worth a visit. It sells Scottish contemporary art and handmade crafts, and serves up great coffee and homemade food to boot!

5. Pop into the pop up
Dunoon’s cultural hub, Dunoon Burgh Hall, is currently undergoing a major refurbishment. In the meantime, it’s delivering its exciting programme of creative events, exhibitions and workshops at the Burgh Hall Pop Up Gallery & Shop on Argyll Street, Dunoon. The current exhibition, ‘Elsewhere and Other Places’, featuring the work of a group of four artists with connections to Cowal, is a gem. The Pop Up Shop also showcases work from The Collective Cowal, a co-operative of artists and makers who live and work in Cowal, Argyll.

6. Be a crafty sew and sew!
Fancy getting crafty in Cowal? Then pay a visit to the Sewing Bee in Dunoon. With everything from fabrics to sequins to wonderful wool, you’ll find all you need to satisfy you crafty creative urge in this haberdasher. It’s a quilter’s heaven, with a huge range of patchwork and quilting supplies. Jinty & Baa is another place to get crafty. This knitting and sewing shop in Kirn, Dunoon stocks everything from crochet hooks to craft books. Plus the shop has a lovely comfy sofa where you’re welcome to have a wee sit and knit or work on your latest sewing project!

Find out more about things to see and do in Dunoon and Cowal.
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Tighnabruaich GalleryThe Dairy Gallery at Carry FarmeFiona McPhail's textiles
Work by Anne E Ferguson, one of the Cowal Open Studio artistsCowalfest walkers
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