Moray Artists Bursary helps foster a sense of community

Lorna Van der Stighelen

In December we announced the successful applicants of the Moray Artists Bursary 2019, with twelve recipients securing grants of up to £1,500 to develop activities, skills and creative practice

We spoke to one of the previous recipients of the Moray Artists Bursary, artist and illustrator Lorna Van der Stighelen, to find out how receiving the funding and support has impacted her career.

In 2018 I was awarded £800 through the Moray Artists Bursary to allow me to update my equipment and continue my career as a freelance digital artist and illustrator.

In order to continue producing the highest quality work, experimenting with my creativity, and to further develop my skills, I needed to purchase a new drawing tablet to replace the outdated graphics tablet I had been using previously.

Due to the funding I was awarded I was also able to put money towards a new computer, an essential piece of equipment for my work as a digital artist. These pieces replaced previous technology which was not only outdated but didn’t have the software capability I needed to truly drive my career forward at the pace I wanted and needed to.

As a result of being awarded the Moray Artists Bursary I have been able to take on freelance work and continue my own personal development, thanks in no small part to the new technology I’ve been able to utilise. Not only has being able to purchase this new equipment played an integral role in my working life, it has also helped me manage a positive work life balance by allowing me to work wherever and whenever I need.

The Moray Artists Bursary has also allowed me to get more involved with the creative community in Moray, something I’ve learned and grown from as an individual and an artist. I’ve been able to take part in Culture Café events, where I’ve met other creatives and learned from their artistic styles and experiences.

Through my engagement with the local community in Moray I’ve also become involved in the Moray Wellbeing Hub, something I’ve now become a strong champion for. The work they do to support people with their mental wellbeing has encouraged me to look into gaining mental health qualifications, something I’ve long been interested in since my first ambitions to become an art therapist many years ago.

While I received monetary support from the Moray Artists Bursary this hasn’t been the only thing I’ve received, and in fact the community support and ability to meet with likeminded individuals has made just as powerful an impact on my career.

Going forward I hope to continue to establish myself as a freelance artist and also develop my own practice and skills. I also hope to continue my involvement within the local creative community in Moray.

To anyone considering applying for an initiative like the Moray Artists Bursary I would say it’s definitely worth it. Take your time with your application, really consider how it will further your practice, and be open to getting involved with your fellow creatives.

 Follow Lorna’s journey on Instagram at

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Moray Artists Bursary enables news skills to be brought to the region

In December we announced the successful applicants of the Moray Artists Bursary 2019, with twelve recipients securing grants of up to £1,500 to develop activities, skills and creative practice

 We spoke to one of the recipients, Iona Hall, a jeweller and silversmith based in Moray, to find out how the Moray Artists Bursary will impact her career.

Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2018 with a BA in Silversmithing and Jewellery I’ve been travelling across the UK to learn new skills to help me hone my craft.

After being recognised for my work in the Netherlands, being nominated for the Schoonhoven Silver Award in 2018, and the UK, winning a Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Award last year, I decided 2020 was the year I wanted to accelerate my business even further.

The impact of the Moray Artists Bursary

Being awarded £1,500 from the Moray Artists Bursary 2019 has already allowed me to travel to London and learn from a master of his craft, John Norgate. In January I travelled to John’s workshop where I undertook a mentorship developing my silversmithing skills, specialising in box making.

During my time with John in London I learned how to make larger pieces, focusing on soldering, hinge-making, correcting distortion due to heat, finishing and polishing. The techniques and insight I gained are something I’m now able to bring back to Moray, with the hope of inspiring future generations of silversmiths.

The Moray Artists Bursary has also enabled me to purchase a polishing machine and silver to help me take forward the new skills I learned from John. Before being awarded the grant I had designed a range of larger scale boxes, which I’ll now be able to create to the highest standard.

Insight into learning from John Norgate

I travelled to London with three designs that I had started to make in my workshop in Moray. While there, John showed me how to solder long seams, make effective hinges and correct any heat distortion that can occur when making larger boxes.

As can be seen through the below images I used new tools to enhance each of my three designs: a large tea caddy, a Bridge set card box, and a small double-hinged triangular box.

Back in Moray I’ll be able to work on each of these creations further in my studio, before returning to John in April to gain further advice on completing the hinges, adding bezels and polishing, and refining each piece.

Applying for the Moray Artists Bursary

One of the reasons I applied for the Moray Artists Bursary is because I believe it gives applicants the freedom to create their own projects in order to develop their work, without limiting creativity.

For me, it has provided an opportunity to enhance my work and learn new skills from someone with a wealth of experience in my field.

In order to ensure a vibrant community of craftspeople and artists in the area, it is vital that we are given the chance to develop expertise, gain inspiration and network with others. This takes time and it can be difficult knowing where to begin, so it’s good to have the support of We Make Moray and initiatives like the Moray Artists Bursary.

Whether you’re a creative looking to take your work in a new direction or, like me, build your skillset, I would definitely recommend applying for any future grants like the Moray Artists Bursary. Everyone involved in the application and awarding process has been very friendly and supportive.

Looking to the future

I’m excited to find out what the future holds for me as I continue to pursue my career as an independent craft silversmith and jewellery maker.

I’m lucky to be able to carry on learning from John, who has kindly agreed to continue to mentor me and pass on his skills and knowledge. In the future I would like to eventually help budding silversmiths in Moray to learn these skills in the way John is passing his on to me now.

Follow Iona’s journey on Facebook or Instagram or visit her website at

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£15,000 awarded through Moray Artists Bursary 2019

The arts, screen and creative industries in Moray have been bolstered by £15,000 funding through the Moray Artists Bursary from We Make Moray, with 12 applicants receiving grants of between £800 and £1,500 to develop activities, skills and creative practice.

We Make Moray is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Creative Scotland, as part of Creative Scotland’s Place Partnership Programme. It was created to encourage and support local organisations to work together in the community to strengthen creative development and widen access to creative activity in the area.

Following the success of the inaugural Moray Artists Bursary in 2018, 26 individuals applied for the 2019 Bursary, an increase on the 23 applicants received last year. Successful applicants include visual artists, choreographers, media artists, musicians, craft-makers, a silversmith, a singer and a sculptor.

The funding allocated through the 2019 Bursary will see a number of projects brought to life. From the development of a walking art project in Moray that connects art, the landscape and cultural settings, through to collaborative work, the production of a musical album featuring local artists, and new installations and performances.

The Moray Artists Bursary will also support an emerging artist to create new two-dimensional works while pursuing opportunities to exhibit. Additionally, the grants will allow Moray-based creatives to learn more about their craft from experts in their field, bringing back traditional little-practised skills to the region to benefit future generations and the local industry.

Scotland’s creative industries contribute more than £5 billion to the Scottish economy each year, and initiatives like the Moray Artists Bursary will help the arts, screen and creative industries in the region continue to thrive.

Sandra Morrison, Place Partnership Co-ordinator, We Make Moray, said: “The creative industries in Moray are continuously growing and it was fantastic to receive so many applications for the 2019 Moray Artists Bursary. The panel was impressed by the high standard of applications received, and the diverse work taking place here, making the final decision a very difficult one.

“I’d like to once again congratulate the 12 successful applicants, who each demonstrated a passion for their practice and desire to showcase Moray’s creativity and skillset. Last year 10 projects were awarded funding, so it’s fantastic to be able to support even more individuals to develop activities, skills and creative practice this year and I look forward to seeing each project develop and positively impact the local community.”

Jennifer Tipton, Place, Partnerships and Communities Officer, Creative Scotland, commented: “The applications for this year’s Moray Artists Bursary programme were hugely diverse and truly reflected the breadth of creative talent in Moray. The We Make Moray Place Partnership has empowered artists and makers across the community to develop their practice and contribute to the cultural growth of the region.”

The Moray Artists Bursary was established by We Make Moray, a place partnership project which supports arts and culture initiatives. The bursary is designed to enable the recipients to realise their own potential while helping to advance the wider Moray Cultural Strategy.

To keep up to date with We Make Moray and our news, including the Moray Artists Bursary, follow us on social media. Find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.  

The impact of the Moray Artists Bursary

Visual art from Duncan Wilson

Following the latest funding application round for the Moray Artists Bursary 2019, we decided to speak to those who benefitted from the grants last year to find out more about the impact it had on their organisation and ambitions.

Here, we find out how Duncan Wilson, a visual artist based in Findhorn, Moray, used his funding and how it has helped shape his future plans.

I was awarded £1,500 funding from the Moray Artists Bursary in 2018, to develop a research project in partnership with Professor Jim MacPherson and the history department at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

Through researching Moray’s military past, I hoped to create a new artwork which would explore the themes of World War 1, masculinity and class. The project and artwork were inspired by a large photographic work I created in 2017, entitled ‘Distant Voices’, where I drew parallels between the young men from Inverclyde who fought in WW1 and the young men living there today.

Last year I relocated to Moray from the central belt, a move which made me want to explore this theme further. My end goal was to create a companion piece to ‘Distant Voices’ that would focus on those men from Moray who had lost their lives in World War 1 and the soldiers living in the area who are preparing to fight in conflict today.

As a visual artist I mainly work alone, however, through the Moray Artists Bursary funding I was able to undertake a truly in-depth partnership research project for the first time and explore how working with academics could lead me down new and exciting creative avenues, and consider new ideas.

Throughout the project my focus shifted from what was initially an inquiry into which ‘class’ went to war, through to exploring what it means to be brave, conscientious objectors, and what secrets lie beneath a car park in Aberdeen…

Thanks to the Moray Artists Bursary I was able to continue to work as an artist in a new part of the country, following my move from the central belt. It also gave me the opportunity to connect with the broader arts community in Moray and meet some amazing creative people.

Following my initial research work, I’m going to continue to explore the ideas and creative opportunities this project brought me, with a view to securing future funding to produce and showcase the new artwork I’m creating in my mind.

For anyone considering applying for the Moray Artists Bursary or similar funding opportunities in the future, I’d highly recommend it – not only do you receive monetary support but the encouragement and insight I received from the team at We Make Moray proved invaluable.

To keep up to date with future funding opportunities like the Moray Artists Bursary, follow We Make Moray on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or contact Sandra Morrison on / 01343 205274.

The lasting impact Moray had on Ryan MacKenzie’s artistic journey

Ryan MacKenzie

We caught up with musician Ryan MacKenzie ahead of his return to Moray, where he will produce another festive production of Let it Snow in Elgin.

Little did I know when I went for my first piano lesson at the tender of age of seven, with local Buckie teacher, Margaret Mitchell, that music would become a full-time career.  Growing up in a small area, I never imagined I’d end up working all over the world with such incredible artists, but I have so much to be thankful for in my Moray upbringing.

Those early piano lessons led to me picking up the violin at school, as a second instrument. We were completely spoilt by the Moray Council’s music instruction service; I wouldn’t be where I am without the incredible performance experiences John Mustard and his team of teachers gave us over the years.

Although I worked through all my grades in both instruments, I was curious about other styles of music even from that early age, bringing everything from classical to pop and jazz to my lessons. I developed a real love for traditional music, something which Moray is renowned for, and went on to join the Strathspey Fiddlers, playing with them for a few years during secondary school. I didn’t appreciate at the time what an amazing opportunity it was to be part of that community in Moray – it gave me access to a completely different musical culture to what I had experienced in my one to one lessons, and taught me the side to being a musician that we don’t get from reading notes off a page.

I was also playing for my local church every Sunday. These were the best harmony lessons I could have had – I learnt so many fundamentals of music by getting inside those hymns and chorales every week. Everything that I do as a creative musician, be it writing an arrangement or improvising at the piano, has been influenced by this somehow.

During my high school years, I played in a function band and there was barely a Saturday night went by when I wasn’t playing at someone’s wedding or party. Performing at these social events got me playing pop music, of course never imagining that I’d end up working with the likes of Pixie Lott a few years later.

In the last couple of years before going to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I played for local amateur company, St. Giles Theatre Group. With them, I had my first experience of theatre. After being the rehearsal pianist for a couple of their shows, they asked me to be musical director for their production of West Side Story. Drawing on this experience, I got involved with the drama department at RCS during my studies, which led to working on professional West End shows and more recently, on tour with Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s long-running production of Les Misérables.

My ethic has always been grab as many opportunities as you can. Everything that I did whilst growing up in Moray has had a huge impact on the music I make.  Even in my career today I’m always looking for new ways to push my boundaries and discover something new. You can’t stop learning – I think we should all strive to absorb as much as we can, wherever we can. The more informed we are, the more we have to say and the more unique and interesting our music becomes. I used to worry that I’d end up a “Jack of all trades, master of none”, but soon realised that everything I do feeds my individual voice as an artist, and all these strands all feed into each other. The wider you cast your net, the more you build up a unique mix of skills which give you a different view from others who do the same thing.

This approach to my own artistry was the inspiration behind recently forming Forte Productions earlier this year. After the response we’ve had to Let it Snow year after year (our fifth birthday is fast approaching, I hope you all have your tickets!), it seemed clear that Moray wanted more of it. Under the Forte Productions umbrella, I’m hoping that myself and my brilliant team can bring this variety, and make a good range of arts accessible in Moray – an area that can sometimes be neglected. In the future, we hope to run regular workshops to help up and coming musicians as well as the wider Moray community get hands on experience. I have several friends who are running similar projects in Moray, so it’s an incredibly exciting time for the area.

Moray is a brilliant place to be as a musician, with so many interesting projects on the go that people can get involved in. Take advantage of as many different opportunities as you can. My playing days as a young, fledgling musician in Moray certainly gave me a solid foundation to build upon when I went off to pursue my career.

Keep up to date with Ryan’s musical journey by following him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or by visiting his website. 

Feature image captured by John Cooper.