A world-renowned Aberdeenshire arts centre has reworked £1.75 million expansion plans, after re-evaluating priorities during the pandemic.
The Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) has rethought its development project to bring forward new facilities, including a creative community making space, expanded ceramics studios and a refurbished artist studio, more quickly.
Building work at the centre, in Lumsden, is expected to begin in October and be completed within seven months.
Plans for the overhaul of the internationally recognised facility were approved by Aberdeenshire Council a year ago.
But fundraising has been challenging during the coronavirus crisis, prompting a rethink to deliver the most-needed improvements first.
SSW director, Sam Trotman, told us: “A lot of trusts and funds have moved their capital into direct Covid response.
“This was absolutely needed, but it made our fundraising a bit harder.
“However, local organisation, the Bently Foundation, supported a big chunk of this first phase and we will be going on to match against that.
“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.
“We wanted to take a phased approach after reflecting on what happened with Covid and finding what can be done locally.”
Collective Architecture will oversee the redevelopment, which will make more of space overlooking Main Street, Lumsden, which is currently used as offices.
The community making space – a room for people to come and meet and make art, will be installed there instead.
The revamp will also increase the capacity and improve access to one of the most popular parts of the workshop – the ceramics studio.
Access will also be bettered at the residency accommodation, used by the many visitors travelling to Lumsden to work at the centre.
The office is being relocated to the heart of the complex to allow better navigation between the different studios.
“This work will open it up and make it all feel a bit more public,” Ms Trotman added.
Founded by sculptor Fred Bushe in 1979, SSW provides dedicated foundry, metal, wood and ceramics workshops for local, national and international visiting artists.
Fundraising is already underway for the phase two work, which will include an accessible bedroom in the residential bothy, which houses a communal kitchen currently.
New foundry and casting spaces and wood and metal workshops will also be brought to the Lumsden arts centre in the second stage of the development.
SSW planners are looking to make the most of energy capture and storage on the site as they prioritise the environmental crisis in the redesign.