Arts extravaganza at annual Penicuik festival

The Bhangra Dancers.
The Bhangra Dancers.

Penicuik’s annual week-long arts festival returns next month, bringing the usual exciting mix of art, music, poetry and dance to the town.

PENFEST 2017 runs from September 2-10, featuring art exhibitions, live performances and events for all ages.

Aine Divine presenting Turner Trophy to last year's winner Sandra Halley.

Aine Divine presenting Turner Trophy to last year's winner Sandra Halley.

This year’s event includes the Bhangra Dancers, a live performance from singer Christine Bovill, an exhibition by artist Morag Donkin and a talk by artist Kate Downie about her fascination with the Forth crossings.

The Penicuik and district arts festival is organised by Penicuik Community Arts Association, which is 40 years old this year and uses its West Street home to accommodate many of the events at the festival.

Its base also includes a craft shop and gallery cafe.

Chairman Jackie McDonald explained more about the role her organisation plays in bringing art to the area.

She said: “The association remains active in promoting the arts in Penicuik and district.

“We have an event once a month, usually a musical event but we have also had storytellers, lectures, Burns Suppers and the occasional party. We also organise an exhibition in the cafe which changes every month.

As for PENFEST, Jackie added: “The association has held an annual arts festival for many years.

“The mainstay of the programme is the annual Open Art Exhibition and Penicuik Turner Prize – a trophy which was designed and made by the local blacksmith Andrew Turner, hence the name.

“It as awarded annually to the artist whose work is judged to be the best in the exhibition by an invited artist.

“This year the judge is Alison Stewart, who works on her family farm just south of Edinburgh.”

Jackie is happy with the PENFEST line-up this year.

She said: “This year the visual arts are well represented in our programme which is appropriate given the importance of the annual exhibition in holding the centre of the festival.

“We are delighted that Kate Downie will be lecturing about her fascination with the Forth crossings.

“The exhibition in the cafe gallery during the festival is by Morag Donkin, an up and coming star of the local art scene and although she only graduated in 2013 she has already exhibited in the Scottish National Gallery, the Fleming Collection, Edinburgh Filmhouse, St Margaret’s House and Edinburgh Fine Art Library.

“Of the performance acts the one we are most keen to let people know about is the Festival Concert.

“The programme for this event has changed since it was first advertised. Wendy Carle Taylor who was to be the lead act has had to pull out and we are really thrilled that Christine Bovill has agreed to come in her place. She is fitting Penicuik into her schedule between London and Berlin! She has had sell out concerts at the Fringe for the past five years and she has garnered excellent reviews.

“We are really pleased to be able to bring an internationally acclaimed artist of this calibre to Penicuik and to be able to keep the ticket price down to £12 for a standard ticket. On the same bill with Christine is the Beeslack High School Jazz Orchestra and Edinburgh Bhangra Dance Crew.

“So that should be a great night, and all in all this year we have a really exciting programme.”

Saturday, September 2

Opening of Annual Exhibition and Penicuik Turner Prize. Work by local artists at affordable prices. Come along and vote for your favourite piece, 2-4pm, at West Street Arts Centre. Free.

Crafts for all. Join Jenni at this regular crafting session for all ages, 11.30am till 1.30pm at Penicuik Town Hall. Free.

Herken in concert, at West Street Arts Centre. This local folk band has eclectic tastes. Expect to hear Scots and English folk songs, West Street Arts Centre, 7.30pm. Tickets £5(£4 for PCAA members)

Sunday, September 3

Penicuik Community Choir taster, Do you sing in the shower or around the home? Have you ever wanted to try and sing in a group?

If yes, come and try singing with Penicuik Community Choir. West Street Arts Centre, 2-3pm. Free.

Exhibition by Morag Donkin (preview), West Street Arts Centre, 2-4pm.

Sunday cinema at Penicuik Town Hall, 7.30pm. Tickets £5 at the door.

Tuesday, September 5

Sing along with Penicuik Folk Club, Shottstown Miners’ Club, 8.30pm. Join the folk club for a relaxed evening of song and music. Free.

Wednesday, September 6

The Art of Crossing by Kate Downie, West Street Arts Centre, 7.30pm. Kate Downie is an internationally renowned artist with a fascination with the Forth bridges. Find out at this talk why she has climbed up, crawled below, perched on rocks close by and floated by in a variety of boats underneath in order to really explore the nature of these bridges and make new drawings. Tickets £5.

Thursday, September 7

Penicuik writers read at Penicuik Library, 7pm.

Tyne and Esk Writers, Penicuik and Pentland Writers invite you to join them for the evening as they share their love of the spoken and written word. You are welcome to bring along your own story or poem to share on the night. Free.

Friday, September 8

Poetry and music at Rosslyn Chapel, 7.30pm. This popular annual event combines the talents of three poets and four musicians in the impressive surroundings of Rosslyn Chapel. Tickets £10 (£8 for PCAA members)

Saturday, September 9

Festival Concert, at Penicuik Town Hall, 7pm. The Festival Concert is headlined by Christine Bovill, with support from the Beeslack High School Jazz Band and folk dance act Bhangra Crew. Tickets £12 (£10 for members of PCAA or PFC and school students).

Sunday, September 10

Penicuik Turner Prize and People’s Choice, 2-4pm at West Street Arts Centre. The Penicuik Turner prize is awarded each year to the best work in the annual open exhibition as judged by Alison Stewart. Free.

Sunday cinema at Penicuik Town Hall, 7.30pm. Tickets £5 at the door

l For all ticketed events, go to 4 West Street or, where you can also see details of ongoing exhibitions and artists’ studios trails during the festival.