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Works will see the Scottish Sculpture Workshop at Lumsden's revamp completed by next April

By David Porter

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World-renowned north-east creative arts centre, the Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) has reworked proposed expansion plans which are set to commence later this year.

Plans for a new development of the facility were approved by Aberdeenshire Council a year ago however raising capital for the project has proved a challenge during lockdown prompting a rethink to deliver the most-needed improvements first.

In a statement the workshop explained that the capital development project will focus first on a new Community Making Space, expansion of the ceramics workshop and refurbishment of artist accommodation.

The developments are led by Collective Architecture and will begin in autumn thanks to support from the Bently Foundation and are expected to be completed for April 2022.

Within these plans, there will be a new Community Making Space on Main Street in Lumsden.

Facing out towards the community, the space will be highly visible and accessible, its design and architecture inviting people in.

It will offer dedicated space for groups and individuals to use for meeting, making and working together.

Over the coming years, SSW will be working with people who live locally to SSW and artist collective Myvillages to develop how the space is run, as well as working together to create a community-led programme as part of The Rural School of Economics supported by the BEPART programme.

The new facilities for artists sit alongside the new community space, including a redeveloped ceramics workshop with increased capacity, improved access and maximised layout.

The accommodation for visiting artists will also be refurbished.

Accessibility is a key part of the plans, with improvements to the fabric of the building and to site navigation.

Sam Trotman, Director of SSW, said@ “This is an exciting moment for SSW and Phase One of an ambitious plan ahead, where we open up our site and our organisation, and improve facilities and access for artists and the local communities.

Work is expected to get underway in October at the SSW site at Lumsden
Work is expected to get underway in October at the SSW site at Lumsden

Camille Bently, executive director of the Bently Foundation, said: “We are proud to award a grant to an organisation with tremendous community and cultural value and with a mission which also prioritises the human need for environmental sustainability in all we endeavor.

"We look forward to seeing SSW continue to grow and inspire a worldwide community of artists from the heart of Scotland for generations to come”

Ewan Imrie, Collective Architecture commented: “We are delighted to see the first phase of redevelopment progressing at SSW. Although this initial phase will be modest in scale, the transformations of how the spaces can be utilised will be dramatic allowing many more people to take part in activities here and benefit from this wonderful facility.

"The changes will also greatly improve wheelchair users’ access and accommodation, providing a uniquely accessible facility”

The project will be supported by SSW’s Capital Cluster and Capital Project Manager, Jane Robertson.

Phase Two of the Capital project, which is currently being fundraised for, focuses on the development of the other workshops, including foundry and casting spaces, wood and metal workshops, additional storage for materials and an accessible, residential bothy.

In all forthcoming capital plans SSW will focus on the environmental crisis and the role of making and material processes in this with a commitment to ensuring renewable energy production and use, as well as prioritising energy capture and storage throughout the facility

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