Cupar set to host annual arts festival

Celie Byrne will be at Cupar Arts EDEN.
Celie Byrne will be at Cupar Arts EDEN.

Cupar will be an eden for art lovers, when its annual arts festival begins next weekend.

Cupar Arts EDEN launches on June 15, kicking off eight days of workshops, film screenings, music performances and even some opera.

However, the highlight of the festival will be the new Cupar Arts Trail – 27 locations around the town transformed into galleries for established and local artists.

Sites across Cupar, mainly on Crossgate and Bonnygate, will host a range of art, from ceramics and stained glass, to portraits and landscapes.

Cupar Heritage Centre is also hosting an exhibition about shops and shopkeepers, celebrating Cupar’s rich retail heritage. It is open Saturday, 10.30am-1.30pm, and Sunday and Wednesday, 2-4.30pm

Cupar Arts chair Margaret Robertson – whose art will be displayed at Lomond Art on South Road – explained that a key aspect of the arts trail is to help promote local businesses and community spaces, encouraging visitors to explore the town and discover the venues.

“It’s about trying to involve the community, but with high quality arts and variety,” Margaret explained. “It’s not aiming to be one particular type of art.

“It’s going to be great fun. We are getting a great response from the community. People are please we are doing this around the town and including people as much as we can. We hope to be able to build on that.”

Three of Cupar’s assets the festival hopes to focus on are the Corn Exchange, Haugh Park and the River Eden, which inspired the name.

The Corn Exchange will be the central hub of the festival, hosting well-known artists like Celie Byrne and Phill Jupitus, a sonic chamber installation and Wulfgar the Bard, an archaeologist who will be showing the ‘Chronicle of Merica’ off for the first time.

Another highlight will be the midsummer henge in the park, which takes place in the Haugh Park. The event will feature the Muchty Music Makers, an installation by Sustainable Cupar, and art of the park railings.

The last weekend of Cupar Arts EDEN will include a ceilidh at the Corn Exchange, with midsummer music courtesy of the Skyrie Ceilidh Band. Then, on the final day, Scottish Opera will perform three 20-minute shows for audiences of all ages at Fluthers Car Park.

Cupar Arts EDEN was set up last year, when David Mach and Rab Noakes were among the big names attracting the crowds to the festival.

That buzz has continued this year, with some events already sold-out weeks in advance.

It adds to a packed schedule of arts events in north east Fife, joining Pittenweem Arts Festival and Open Studios North Fife. But what is it about north east Fife that inspires art?

“I think a lot of it is the landscape,” Margaret said. “There’s something about north east Fife and the coast – the land and the landscape is so beautiful.

“It’s not got massive mountains, but you’ve got these wonderful vistas of fields and water. It’s inspired my art

“When you travel to the west, you can see the landscape changes.”

While businesses and community centres around Cupar will be hosting exhibitions, Margaret said she believes one thing the town does lack is a dedicated arts centre.

She told the Herald: “I wanted to establish an arts centre in Cupar.

“It’s never quite had an arts centre, like the way St Andrews or Kirkcaldy does, or other smaller places.

“It seems incredible Cupar doesn’t have anything more established. I think the size of Cupar, it could do with some sort of arts centre.”

More information about Cupar Arts EDEN can be found on the website, cupararts.org.uk, or on the group’s Facebook page.

Tickets for the various events can be purchased through eventbrite.co.uk.