CAMPLE LINE was established in 2016 in Dumfries and Galloway in a building that is part of a former Victorian mill complex, staging its first exhibition in March 2017. Rooted in the local community while at the same time developing a programme that is international in its scope, it has quickly developed a reputation for its commitment to contemporary art in a rural context.
‘We made a decision very early on to work with artists that interest us, but within a framework of things that we felt were relevant to Cample and the surrounding area. We are located in a rural, agricultural setting – Cample is a tiny hamlet and we’re two miles from Thornhill, a large village with a population of about 2,500.
‘What we wanted to figure out from the start was a pretext for bringing in artists from elsewhere to this context. We were very clear that the artists’ work should be international in scope or they themselves should be internationally-based – we’re working towards that, and trying to find ways to connect international stories with local ones.
‘It was partly for this reason that we invited the Stockholm-based artist to show her installation Black Atlasin our spring programme this year alongside films by Maeve Brennan and Laura Waddington. Black Atlasis the outcome of a residency Jacqueline did in the archive of the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, and we felt it offered an international context to a very local story about a doctor, Doctor Grierson, who in 1872 opened his own ethnographic museum in Thornhill.
‘The objects in Dr Grierson’s Museum were gathered in part through the sons and daughters of the area who were in the military, or civil service abroad, or perhaps missionaries. Much of the collection is now held in Dumfries Museum after it was forced to close in the 1960s.
‘We commissioned a local poet and writer JoAnne McKay to read part of the catalogue that Grierson produced of hismuseum,and she also responded to Jacqueline’s work. It was very interesting to have that dialogue and Dumfries Museum were very helpful too – it’s a way of creating points of relevance.
‘Our surroundings at CAMPLE LINE are very beautiful, but we are also in a working environment – we’re next to a joinery firm and surrounded by farms. We’re also here to work and so we try to respond to the work that everyone else is doing, too. We’re very conscious of that and try and bring it into our programme.
‘We aim to keep the quality of what we do as high as possible, and it’s important to us that we can draw on the skills of our local trades people to achieve that. We also work closely with local schools – both primary and secondary – and through our Young Assistants Programme funded by the Holywood Trust we’ve been able to employ local young people, including Lucy and Grace who live in Cample.
‘It is important to us to be part of our community and to work for our wider community. At the same time, we want to develop as a contemporary art space and organisation. We’re interested in building everyone’s understanding of that, everyone’s trust in that, everyone’s sense that it’s for them. And that takes time.’
IMAGES: CAMPLE LINE