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Argyll’s Lodging inspires community artists

14 May 2007

The splendid surroundings of the Laigh Hall at Argyll’s Lodging in Stirling are providing a prestigious venue for a new art exhibition by amateur artists from the local community.

The vibrant and diverse artworks including paintings on canvas, line drawings, photos, a fabric collage and an embroidery, have been created by members of local community group, Reachout With Arts in Mind. Based in Alloa, Reachout is a mental health expressive arts self-help group for local adults. And although it’s hard to believe from the standard of the exhibits in the beautiful 17th century townhouse, most of the individuals responsible for them have never before had their work put on public display.

The project started last year when, as part of The Big Draw, the annual nationwide event designed to encourage more people to get involved with art, Reachout visited Argyll’s Lodging, accompanied by renowned artist, Peter Russell. He led a series of creative workshops in which a number of themes were explored by the Reachout members including architectural features and history, interior, costume design, textiles and surface textures. This provided the basis for the works of art they then created.

Peter Russell said: "The stimulation of being able to access Argyll’s Lodging was the first part of the journey towards the exhibition. We’re very grateful to Historic Scotland for assisting us to complete the journey. The process ends here – members of the group can stand back and be satisfied with the process completed in the public sphere."

Julia Priestley, Reachout’s Community Outreach Support Worker said: "Argyll’s Lodging is wonderfully preserved and full of atmosphere, so it’s easy to imagine what life would have been like for people living there hundreds of years ago. The historic setting, architecture, and artefacts all provided great creative inspiration for our members. Their work expresses what this important heritage site means to them, and it’s great to see it displayed in the very place which inspired it.

Working in partnership with Historic Scotland over the past three years has given Reachout many opportunities to support adult learning at various local heritage sites whilst tackling the negative stigma associated with mental health. Seeing the works framed and professionally exhibited on site at Argyll’s Lodging is a great celebration of the members’ achievements through participation in the workshops. We look forward to our next project with Historic Scotland - a series of educational arts workshops with a professional artist at Castle Campbell throughout the summer."

Historic Scotland Education Officer Kaye Findlay said: "Every year, Historic Scotland properties throughout the country take part in a wide range of projects to encourage the local community to become more interested and involved in the heritage on their doorstep. We were delighted that events for The Big Draw last year held at sites including Stirling Castle, Holyrood Park, Fort George and Skara Brae, aroused so much public enthusiasm and interest.

The art exhibition at Argyll’s Lodging is a good example of a successful project which has given people a new insight into a local historic building and a chance to use it creatively. The standard of the art created by Reachout is really excellent and visitors are enjoying the exhibition. The contrast of new works of art set against a 17th century backdrop works really well and the feedback from visitors has been very positive."

Notes for editors
Reachout With Arts in Mind comprises of mental health expressive arts self help group composed of artists, professionals, academics and others, most with first hand experience of mental health problems and all committed to tackling ignorance, prejudice and social exclusion in relation to mental illness. Reachout promotes mental health by encouraging participants to relax, gain new skills and enjoy experiences in creative arts workshops. Reachout has worked in partnership with the Education Department at Historic Scotland regularly over the past three years on a variety of community arts projects. For further information on Reachout , call 01259 723 666.

Peter Russell is an internationally renowned artist who has worked with both Historic Scotland and Reachout With Arts in Mind (independently and in partnership) over the past six years.

For information on the annual nationwide arts initiative, The Big Draw, visit

Argyll’s Lodging is a beautiful townhouse on the upper approaches to Stirling Castle. Originally built in 16th Century, it was extended by its first owner Lord Stirling. However, after being acquired by Archibald Campbell, ninth Earl of Argyll in the mid 1660s, it stayed with this family for the rest of its time as a residence. Archibald was executed in the late 1600s for supporting Cromwell, but after his son pledged allegiance to King Charles II, the family estates and earldom were restored. The Lodging is described as the finest and most complete surviving 17th Century townhouse in Scotland. It is fully furnished, recreating how it would have looked in the late 17th Century.

Argyll’s Lodging is in Stirling’s old town close to the castle. Tickets are £4.50 for adults, concessions £3.50 and children £2.25. Tickets to Stirling Castle include the Lodging. Telephone 01786 431319.

Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

For further information

Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959