Scotland is home to a rich and interconnected craft ecosystem of talented makers, collectives, craft venues and destinations, craft organisations and curators.
For Craft Week Scotland 2021, we want to shine a light on 17 organisations and initiatives working behind the scenes in Scottish contemporary craft alongside Craft Scotland.
Passionate and dedicated teams across Scotland are crafting exciting programmes to share contemporary craft for audiences locally and internationally. Exploring the questions of the day and supporting makers to achieve their ambitions wherever that may lead them, here is a selection of 17 organisations that are putting Scotland on the global craft map.
Discover even more details of 50-plus craft organisations and initiatives that exist to directly support makers at all stages of their careers, based in Scotland and beyond, with our Organisations to Know page.
Fife Contemporary is a long-established visual art and craft organisation based in St Andrews, Fife.
Free from the restrictions of a venue, Fife Contemporary works through partnerships to create a programme of exhibitions which features both local and international makers, as well as engagement projects open to a wide public.
Declaring a Climate Emergency in 2019, they are committed to exploring the dialogue between visual art and craft along a concern for the environment and equality. Their unique programme includes Craft Pods, a project that takes high-quality work into the local community via libraries and schools.
Plus, Fife Contemporary significant support for craft and visual artists is provided through a dedicated information network, training and opportunities such as residencies.
Fife Contemporary see their website as a “virtual venue” hosting numerous showcases, including the Materialise series of online exhibitions, which supports new makers who are working hard to start out their craft career in the face of exceptional circumstances.
Launching soon is Materialise 4, an online exhibition presenting a selection of last years' graduates. Visit the website in November to explore the emerging maker's practice and purchase a selection of their work.
Fife Contemporary will also be sharing new jewellery works created with Fife-based carers that received jewellery tool kits during the pandemic. The CARE initiative started during lockdown, the carers received Jewellery kits as a way to keep them creative continuing Fife Contemporary’s CARE project launched in 2019.
And in further exciting news, Fife Contemporary have been selected as one of the Youth Arts Bursary recipients, which will let them work closely with a young maker based in Fife providing them with a bursary and mentoring opportunities. A call out will launch soon.
Scottish Potters Association
Founded over 40 years ago, the Scottish Potters Association (SPA) began spontaneously when a group of potters at a trade show found the most useful part was the sharing of information and ideas. Within a few weeks, a viable group came together, a constitution was drawn up, aims defined, and the Association was born.
SPA aims to raise awareness of pottery in Scotland and to elevate standards in the craft. They are run by members for members, and they work to support their members whether they are experienced professionals or just starting out. SPA runs a varied programme of support, including training, events, a regular newsletter full of tips and stories, and a large conference.
Conversations in Wood exhibition at Marchmont House in 2019 / Photographer unknown
Revamped in 2018, Marchmont House is fast becoming a key venue for the Scottish art, craft and design community.
Situated at the heart of the Marchmont Estate, Marchmont House lies to the east of the village of Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders. The goal of the current owners is to make Marchmont usable in a practical way, “stately yet homely”.
A comprehensive, yet sensitive six-year restoration was carried out that has been the catalyst for an inspiring and passionate appreciation for craft and design tradition. Through their sister initiatives Marchmont Ventures and Marchmont Makers Foundation, Marchmont House supports investments and creativity in business, arts, crafts, heritage protection and land management for the long term.
Hugo Burge, Director to Scottish Field in 2020:
“Artists and craft makers are facing incredibly tough times at the moment, but we believe it’s essential for our culture, society and economy to support them so they can rebuild and flourish. By having a new centre where the highest quality arts and craft are created and celebrated we hope to help promote some of the finest talent from across Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
In 2019, Marchmont House collaborated with Visual Arts Scotland, The Scottish Gallery and Craft Scotland for a vibrant exhibition, Conversations in Wood. The venue is also host to makers, artists and designers in their artist studios, and they recently supported two emerging woodworkers to set up The Marchmont Workshop
Applied Arts Scotland
Run by makers for makers, Applied Arts Scotland is a membership organisation that delivers tangible benefits by connecting the making community through events, projects and discussions, building skills and encouraging self-sufficiency and confidence.
Their current projects include Meet Make Collaborate, a touring exhibition of new works created by Scotland-based makers and international participants from Mexico, Thailand and Canada who took part in the Applied Arts Scotland International Exchanges Project launched in 2019. The project themes explore identity, sustainability and collaboration and the objects on show cover a range of disciplines including textiles, weaving, ceramics, jewellery and basketry.
Dovecot Studios is a world-renowned tapestry studio in the heart of Edinburgh. Established in 1912, Dovecot continues a century-long heritage of collaboration with international artists to make exceptional handwoven tapestries and gun-tufted rugs.
Alongside the tapestry studio, Dovecot run an exciting programme of craft and design exhibitions, shopping experiences, workshops and events. It has become a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design.
For this season, Dovecot presents a new partnership with Japan House London and the Centre for Heritage Art & Textiles in Hong Kong, with the launch of an innovative exhibition of works by critically acclaimed textile designer Sudō Reiko.
MAKING NUNO: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko runs until 8 January 2022 (10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT).
Jean Simon Trottier for Scottish Glass Society Exhibition A Celebration of Scottish Glass in 2016 / Photographer unknown
Scottish Glass Society
Since 1979, the mission of the Scottish Glass Society is to promote the appreciation, understanding and development of contemporary Scottish glass.
Their membership boasts some of the most innovative and skilled glass artists working to the highest professional standards in contemporary glass today, as well as students, historians, curators, and interested organisations and individuals.
The Scottish Glass Society encourages excellence, and promotes and raises the profile of their members’ work through their exhibitions, catalogues, and events. They work to expand, engage and educate their public in Scotland and beyond about contemporary Scottish glass.
Recent projects include Journey, an online glass exhibition focusing on the variety of responses Scottish glass artists had to the pandemic.
Scottish Goldsmiths Trust
The Scottish Goldsmiths Trust launched in 2000, and builds on the legacy of exciting programming from The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh.
The Scottish Goldsmiths Trust has a dynamic programme of opportunities, exhibitions and awards. The Trust curates the Millennium Silver collection, Silver of the Stars and the historical archives of The Incorporation of Goldsmiths. The work of the Trust focuses on promoting and supporting the education, art and craft of Scotland’s gold and silversmithing heritage and trade. In particular, the Ethical Making Programme supports the adoption of responsible and sustainable practices in Jewellery and Silversmithing.
Their flagship event, Elements: A Festival of Jewellery, Silver and Gold, brings together the finest UK-based designer-makers for a selling fair, an exhibition and a series of events in partnership with Lyon & Turnbull and other key partners. For 2021, they are touring Elements: A Festival of Jewellery, Silver and Gold in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and London.
London's Kitchen project by Panel / Photography by Angus Mill
Panel & MAKE
Based in Glasgow, Panel is a curatorial arts organisation led by Catriona Duffy and Lucy McEachan. They create projects about design and making in relation to specific histories, archives and collections.
Panel commissions and collaborates with artists, designers and makers to produce new work - often in partnership with local industry - which frames design and making as integral parts of the broader social, political and cultural landscape.
Recent projects include London's Kitchen,a limited-edition collection of six products connected to and inspired by Park Royal, an industrial zone in north-west London.
Panel are currently working with independent craft specialist Helen Voce as the custodians of MAKE. MAKE aims to positively influence the perception of craft in Scotland through a co-created manifesto and do so from the “ground-up”. MAKE recently collaborated with Craft Scotland on MAKE Learn, a new project designed to strengthen Scotland’s craft sector, and a new research and report was published, Craft and Making Education in Scotland Today.
Up in Aberdeenshire, The Barn presents a varied programme of events, including performances, films, talks, visual arts and other projects that offer shared experiences, create open dialogue and cause for reflection.
With a focus on environmental awareness, The Barn collaborates with artists, makers and audiences to research and create learning experiences. Visitors can also explore the best in contemporary Scottish craft and design from both established and emerging designer-makers in retail space, FOLD, and with FLOCK, a programme of seasonal markets.
Recently they commissioned textiles designers Sarah Diver Lang and Rebecca Jane Kaye of Ploterre, to create another edition of their Hamewares collection, exclusive to The Barn.
Visual Arts Scotland
Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) is a leading platform for national and international contemporary fine and applied artists.
Originally created as an organisation for women artists, in the 1980s the society broadened their membership and has since championed craft makers, designers and applied arts practitioners.VAS now boasts a vibrant, active and participatory membership of over 700 practicing artists and makers.
Members and non-members alike are welcome to submit work for selection at their prestigious annual exhibitions. Shown alongside invited artists and emerging talent, VAS exhibitions take place at the iconic venue the Academy building on the Mound in Edinburgh and other key partner venues including Tatha Gallery and Marchmont House.
SURGE at Tatha Gallery runs until 6 November 2021 (The Newport, 1 High Street, Newport-on-Tay DD6 8AB)
Fitch & McAndrew for Spring Fling 2015 / Photography by Colin Hattersley
Dumfries & Galloway has become one of the most well-known Scottish craft travel destinations due to the hard work and passion of the team at Upland.
Upland is a bold, ambitious, rurally-based visual art, design and craft development organisation that evolved from the open studio network Spring Fling. They are a membership organisation that works to create opportunities that connect artists and makers with audiences, communities and each other. With a strong sense of place, they aim to highlight and celebrate the unique region of Dumfries & Galloway and its creative community.
Spring Fling Open Studios continues as their flagship event attracting audiences to the area to go behind the scenes of makers and artists’ studios.
Upland also offer a year-round programme delivering a range of projects, events and exhibitions working with young people, emerging and established artists and makers.
Led by design curator Dr Stacey Hunter, Local Heroes is a curatorial studio that connects audiences with contemporary Scottish design and craft.
Known for being design obsessives, Local Heroes pioneer new formats for exhibitions and events and develop projects with partners in the cultural and commercial sectors. They use unconventional and inventive sites and spaces to bring the work of designers and makers to a wider public.
Recent projects include Daytrippers! a collaboration between V&A Dundee and Local Heroes that supports designers by commissioning collectable, limited edition souvenirs, as well as The Future of Home, a new showroom presentation for London Design Festival 2021.
Scottish Furniture Makers Association Adjust/Adapt exhibition / Photography by Gabriela Silveira
Scottish Furniture Makers Association
Scotland has a rich and evolving history of furniture design and making. As a membership body, the Scottish Furniture Makers Association (SFMA) promotes and supports independent furniture designers and makers across Scotland, celebrating their art, craft and creativity.
Their members blend traditional and contemporary techniques, using a wide range of materials including Scottish hardwoods to metal and glass.
Current projects include a digital exhibition Adjust / Adapt, which features five individual “still life” compositions captured by photographer Gabriela Silveira. Created by Scottish Furniture Makers Association in partnership with Visual Arts Scotland, this exhibition explores how domestic interiors are being modified and enhanced in light of the pandemic, with home-working and home-schooling becoming the norm.
Design Exhibition Scotland
Design Exhibition Scotland (DES) showcases exceptional objects and ideas for the everyday.
Launched in 2018 by Susanna Beaumont, DES celebrates and supports experimentation, excellence and exploration in craft and design. They focus on making visible the energetic brilliance of contemporary designers, makers and artists working across Scotland today through their vibrant programming
Last month, DES installed a new drinking fountain, entitled Dixon in collaboration with Mirrl a new Scottish company manufacturing based in Glasgow.
The drinking fountain was installed as part of the London Design Festival 2021, with the Brompton Design District. The fountain sat outside South Kensington tube, just a stone’s throw from cultural hotspot the V&A. As to the future, DES plans to take Dixon into full production.
Craft Town Scotland
In May 2012, the Barony Centre was opened, creating a focal point and showcase for the Craft Town Scotland initiative.
A “culturally unique” building, the Barony Centre is a multi-award-winning redevelopment of a 19th Century Grade ‘C’ listed church and is a place where creativity inspires. Craft Town Scotland seeks to use crafts as both an attractor and a vehicle for the regeneration of the local community. It works in partnership with other local, regional and national organisations that share their objectives.
The Scottish Gallery
Established in South St. David Street, Edinburgh by Aitken Dott in 1842 as "Gilders, Framers, and Artists' Colourmen", the firm, as it does today, also exhibited and sold work by the leading Scottish artists of the day. As all areas of the business grew, larger premises were found in Castle Street in 1860 and a new dedicated gallery space was opened in 1897 as "The Scottish Gallery". The gallery has been situated on Dundas Street since 1992.
The Scottish Gallery is the oldest, privately owned, commercial gallery in Scotland focusing on art and quality contemporary craft pieces from emerging and established makers from across Scotland, UK and internationally.
The Scottish Gallery celebrated its 175 birthday in 2017. You can read our 2017 interview with Christina Jansen, then Managing Director of The Scottish Gallery.
ORNAMENTAL BEAUTY by jewellery designer Marianne Anderson runs until Friday 26 November 2021 (16 Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ)
North Lands Creative
Internationally renowned, North Lands Creative is a unique studio organisation and gallery in Lybster, Caithness, Highlands & Islands.
North Lands Creative’s focus is on contemporary glass and they have a national importance in developing glass in the UK. Through the Alastair Pilkington Studio and Gallery, they facilitate and support professional artists to make new artwork. They also offer a highly visible and accessible programme of talks, events and education activities around the studio and gallery that engage visitors with artists and artmaking.
Read a recent interview with Karen Phillips, Director of North Lands Creative, published by Venture North, to learn more about her and the organisaton.