Pretty picture of Shawlands

Photo by Dave Forrest.
Photo by Dave Forrest.

THE Art Village may have closed its doors on Saturday — but organisers vow that they’ll be back in an ongoing bid to regenerate Shawlands.

The inaugural project — which stemmed from the Southside Festival’s annual Art in the Park exhibition — took over two derelict units in Shawlands Arcade throughout 
May.

The aim was to create a free contemporary art and short film exhibition which would draw visitors to the area — and with an estimated 5,000 people through the door, organiser Patrick Evans is delighted with its success.

He told The Extra: “The welcome has been overwheming. So many have begged us to stay open, and said that it’s what Shawlands needs.”

With requests for a permanent exhibition, Patrick and team now have their sights set on an ongoing project.

He explained: “Between Morrisons and the Marks and Spencers garage, we’ve counted 50 empty retail units. What we’d like to do is work with landlords, take a number of empty units on and put on more exhibitions which will bring people to Shawlands.

“We’d like to do them up to gallery standards and then let each unit from underneath our feet, before moving onto the next one.

“There’s so much life and vitality in Shawlands — all it needs is an attraction to bring people in.”

Next steps include approaching funders and the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan — and the team already have the support of deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The southside MSP visited on Friday, and commented on the “great use of vacant space”.

She added: “The artwork was of high quality, and I was equally impressed with the thousands of people coming to see the exhibitions, which has a knock-on benefit for neighbouring businesses.

“If the organisers would like it to become a more permanent feature I’d be happy to support that and do what I can to help.”

Patrick added: “We were flattered by the minister’s visit, and hope it proves that there are enough talented artists both local and across Scotland to make the project happen, and to help return Shawlands to what it once was.”