Image: © Rae Osborne

September brings the highlight of the creative year in the North-east, when hundreds of the region’s artists and craftspeople open the doors of their studios to the public during NEOS. Community venues and galleries from Findhorn to Johnshaven are also involved. This year’s North East Open Studios event runs from September 9th to the 17th and features over 260 artists.

NEOS offers a unique opportunity to meet and chat to individual artists, see their inspirations and working methods and learn about the huge wealth of creative talent we have in the North-east of Scotland. There’s a wide range of work on show from painting to printmaking, textiles, ceramics, photography, sculpture, heritage crafts and jewellery making. Not only does the event offer the chance to see and purchase some outstanding work, but it helps support the creative sector.

Duncan and Jacqui Grant, two of Scotland’s most well-regarded jewellery designer-makers, invite selected emerging jewellery makers to show at Lava in Peterculter. Duncan explained, ‘NEOS is at the forefront of making new and existing talent publicly accessible. At Lava, we support this by hosting designer makers that we feel encompass what we represent.’

Bruce Swanson is one of those exhibiting at Lava. Bruce works in silver and copper together with precious and semi-precious stones, wood and other found objects to create sculptural jewellery. Bruce commented, ‘I combined my love of creative work with a career in engineering. There are many parallels – attention to detail and quality workmanship and understanding the physical processes of metalwork.
I work on several projects in parallel, all at various stages of maturity. Not all become a finished piece!’

Carole Herbert will also be stepping out from the workshop to show her refined enamel pieces at Lava. Her life-long jewellery making passion started at school. Carole explained what NEOS offers to local designer-makers, saying, ‘NEOS is a great opportunity to meet new and interesting people whilst also creating a forum to show your work and discuss techniques.

‘In my enamel pieces, I use very finely ground coloured glass which is applied to the metal piece and then melted in a kiln. Many layers can be applied to build the design, with each layer being fired and finished before the next is applied.  I like using natural form to create texture in the piece. Enamelling takes a long time to master because of the unpredictability of the process. If you leave something in the kiln for a few minutes too long, it can be ruined!’

Bruce may be contacted by e-mail on, Carole Herbert at

Both Bruce and Carole, in common with many of the NEOS exhibitors, are happy to discuss commissions.

You can find a full list of NEOS artists and venues by visiting or by picking up a free directory at any of the distribution points.

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