Discover something special

This  year’s NEOS open studios event  features over 180 artists and makers from Banff to Montrose, Collieston to Aboyne and beyond. NEOS runs from 12th to 20th September. Individual venues have different opening times, so it’s best to check online at and confirm before setting out.

North East Open Studios offers the chance to meet with every kind of artist, designer and maker based in the area, to explore their studios and find out more about their work, as well as picking up a piece or two that you’ll love forever, or some fabulous gifts.

There are painters and illustrators of every style, but NEOS also offers the chance to see ceramicists at work, meet furniture makers and wood turners and see how sculptors chisel their creations. You can watch stained glass being assembled, discover how a photographer sees the world, or find out about fine gems and precious metals at some of the region’s leading jewellers and silversmiths. Heritage craftspeople who make baskets, bags, corn dollies, woven and other textiles, accessories and fishing flies all open their doors to visitors. 

Whether your taste runs to the flamboyantly colourful or monochrome austerity, contemporary figurative work or classical seascapes, you’re bound to find something that appeals. Many of the exhibitors offer cards, prints, badges and small items which are inexpensive and make good gifts. You can search the website to discover individual makers you love, or see every exhibitor in a selected medium, as well as finding out who is nearby or on your planned road trip route.

Fiona Duckett, ceramicist, Chair of the voluntary team of artists and makers which organises NEOS each year, explained why NEOS is so important for local makers. ‘For many artists and makers, NEOS not only offers one of the main selling opportunities of the year, but also a rare chance to meet their audience, to find out more about what people want to own. Visiting a studio connects people to creativity. Demonstrations spark conversations which lead to new ideas for the artist and often inspire people to learn more about making for themselves. NEOS fosters collaborations between artists and makers as well as attracting tourists to Aberdeenshire and enabling local artists and craftspeople to make a living. ‘We’re particularly happy that NEOS has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

‘Naturally, NEOS will operate differently this year, but we will still be using our Yellow signs! Some of the multi-artist venues will not be open this year, but it is still possible to visit individual studios, and groups. Social distancing measures will be in place and some venues are open by appointment only. It’s best to check the listings online, make plans on which artists or makers you want to see, then plan your route using the handy zoomable maps on the NEOS website’.

Why not make a day trip out of it? NEOS offers the perfect chance to discover artists and makers you’ll love, have a great day out and support the local creative economy.

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