ARTISTS in Scotland are being offered the chance to “breathe fresh energy into their work”, by spending a week-long residency aboard a yacht sailing the nation’s coastline.

The project, a collaboration between Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) and Marchmont House, will give two artists the chance to spend a week at sea aboard the Whimbrel, a 50ft catamaran.

Not only will the chosen artists be able to set their own itinerary for the voyage, they will receive a stipend plus travel expenses to and from Troon where it is moored.

The boat’s skipper, Ben Merritt, said the artists will have the chance to find inspiration exploring wild and seldom-visited spots around Arran and the Firth of Clyde.

The National: The WhimbrelThe Whimbrel

He said the trip may “include spending time moored beneath Carrick Castle on Loch Goil, going to some of the very quiet spots along Loch Riddon, or taking a look around Holy Island and Lamlash Bay”.

Merritt said the trip would give artists “a whole different experience”, and they may also get close to marine wildlife including whales and porpoises.

The two free residencies, from April 11-17, 2021, are being offered through VAS in partnership with Whimbrel’s owners to support and nurture contemporary artists – and complements their work to promote the arts at Marchmont House in The Borders.

VAS President Sarah Calmus (below) hailed the opportunity. She said: “This is so unusual – there are lots of places where artists can have residencies, but very few of them on water and very few of them are fully funded.

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“It will be a fabulous experience for creatives – having a full week will give artists the chance to go to some wonderful places that they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to see at all.

“This experience will no doubt breathe fresh energy into their work and having the space and time to explore, to work, to focus is integral to a healthy practice.

“As soon as you mention this to people they just light up and say ‘wow, I’d love to do that!’, so I think there will be a great deal of interest.”

Former tech entrepreneur and Director of Marchmont Farms Limited, Hugo Burge, regularly sails on Whimbrel and felt there were superb opportunities for it as an artists’ retreat.

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It’s an idea that parallels the work of Burge’s team at Marchmont House, a 1750 Palladian mansion in the Borders, which they have restored and are turning into a home for artists, makers and creators that celebrates innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Burge said: “The Hebrides and the Western Isles are an oasis of beauty – places I have fallen in love with while sailing aboard Whimbrel.

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“So it gives all of us at Marchmont great pleasure to offer this unusual opportunity for an artistic voyage of discovery and we hope to support similar residencies in the future.

“And it’s also wonderful to be able to offer other people the chance to charter Whimbrel so they can discover for themselves the magical and wild locations that have long been a source of inspiration for artists.”

The offer is open to the 700 existing VAS members and any who join before the February 15 deadline. Applications are being accepted already.

VAS will be offering reduced price and free membership early in 2021 to artists whose incomes have been hard hit by the pandemic.