Borders Book Festival Image Gallery

To read more about the Borders Book Festival Residency, click the box below.


Borders Book Festival Residency

11-18 June 2012, Melrose

The Borders Book Festival, takes place in Harmony Gardens, in the heart of Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Annually, the four-day event sees the transformation of Harmony Gardens from a tranquil oasis into a lively campus hosting some of today’s most entertaining writers and illustrious literary personalities.

In 2012, for the first time, CABN, in partnership with The Borders Book Festival, invited proposals from visual artists of all disciplines for an exciting residency at the festival. Jane Gaze, CABN’s Advocate for Visual Arts at the time, developed the partnership and residency.

During the festival, the artist was to be based along with visiting writers within Harmony House, a beautiful 18th Century villa in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. The residency brief was to ‘get to the heart of and be inspired by the festival’.

Due to its high profile, the festival is well recorded through photography, so the residency encouraged proposals from artists– including lens-based artists - which would engage beyond this level.

The residency call was open to artists at any stage in their career, with strong ideas for the creation of high quality new work which links with the festival in an exciting way – maybe engaging with a particular theme/aspect of the programme, with the location and its transformation/change of energies during the festival. The residency offered free accommodation and part-board at Harmony House for the duration, together with expenses for travel, materials and a pre-festival preparatory visit of up to two days. An opportunity was also offered to exhibit artwork created during the residency at Old Gala House, Galashiels in June 2013 – to coincide with the 10th Borders Book Festival.

Janie Nicoll, a Glasgow based artist, was selected for the residency.  Janie proposed to make printed artworks and large scale wall installation pieces that used text and information garnered from questionnaires distributed throughout the duration of the festival to visitors and to the authors, and employees of the festival - thus creating a direct interaction between the artist, the festival participants and the audience.

“I spent the week living in Harmony House, getting to know the staff and took photographs of the preparations for the festival. During the festival I sat in on events and talks and got to meet authors and speakers informally during meals and experienced social aspects of the festival. I distributed a questionnaire to the general public that gave me feedback about their motivations for coming to the festival, what they liked most and what makes it special for them. I also asked children to draw their favourite book characters. After the residency I contacted the writers and speakers in order to get them to answer a few similar questions about what they thought of the Border Book Festival and also to sum it up using one word. 

The outcome of the residency is to create artworks for an exhibition at Old Gala House to coincide with next year’s book festival and also to create artworks that can be used as a visual theme for the festival itself… The residency has allowed me to continue an exploration of the use of text within my practice and how text can be used as a visual signifier within a process of translation. I really enjoyed the residency as it was a unique chance to experience the Borders Book festival first hand, with a foot in both camps – part spectator/part participant.”