Arts Festival

August 3rd - 11th 2019

A celebration of the visual arts taking place in galleries homes studios and other venues throughout Pittenweem

Invited Artists & Bursary Award  Archive 1982-2018

Early Years of the Festival

In 1981 an exhibition of old photographs of Pittenweem entitled Pittenweem Yesterday was presented in aid of Lifeboat funds, at Kellie Lodging, one of the village’s oldest houses. The response locally was overwhelming and three artists then living in Pittenweem planned to establish a Pittenweem Arts Festival the following year. It aimed to show high-quality exhibitions of visual arts and include evening performances of drama, music and poetry.


In July of 1982 the first Royal Burgh of Pittenweem Arts Festival took place. Invited artists of note exhibited in the few public venues we had access to while residents were encouraged to open a room in their house to display artists’ work. A number of workshops and demonstrations of tapestry weaving, pottery and dance were also included.



Our first invited artist was Ian Hamilton Finlay with his exhibition Diamond Studded Fishnet based on fishing boats and boat names. He entitled our first Festival, A Pittenweem Fancy using  fancy in its old meaning of a celebration. With the positive reports we were encouraged to make the festival an annual event.


In 1983 The Ring-Net by Will Maclean was shown in the Scout Hall, looked after by some of the older fishermen who demonstrated net-making at the same time. The Old Town Hall in Cove Wynd at that time was kept entirely for our theatre and music events and also a few tea-dances and evening French Bistro events.


In 1984 with Dr Hew Lorimer, our then patron, the Pittenweem fishermen invited us to join the annual fishing Gala event, usually on the first Saturday in August.


The Gala was a memorable happening with all the fishing fleet decorated in bunting. Each boat carried a “fisher lassie”, often the skipper’s daughter. The boats took visitors and disabled children in convoy around the May Island and back.

Gala Day 1984

In 1985 the Festival began to invite a personality to open the combined festiva and Gala. That year Sheena MacDonald, journalist and broadcaster, welcomed visitors from a rostrum erected at the edge of the harbour by the fish-market. When the boats returned from their trip, each boat first landed their fisher lassie who wore the name of the boat on a sash over her “posh" evening dress. Sheena then presented the Cup to the winner.A one-man play about the arrival of St Fillan, specially written for the Festival by Tom McGrath, was performed in St Fillan’s Cave. St Fillan arrived by small fishing boat and, dressed as a monk, clambered up the ladder, accompanied by a small boy playing a fiddle.


In the Granary that year of 1985, an exhibition of photographs by Oscar Marzaroli was shown. In Kellie Lodging The Smoke Box by Keith McIntyre, illuminated only by the light of smoking fish, was made into an installation.


Press articles were more numerous now and in 1982 the Scotsman had devoted a colour section to the Festival.


Artists who have shown at the Festival include Keith Brockie; Dorothy Stirling; Richard Demarco; Robert Callendar; Elizabeth Ogilvie; Joan Eardley; Lil Neilson; Jurek Putter; John Bellany. Visiting poets include: Norman MacCaig; Ian Crichton Smith; George Bruce and poet laureate Edwin Morgan.

Oscar Marzaroli exhibition

Reinhard Behrens who has lived and worked in Pittenweem for about 30 years made the burning galleon when invited artist in 2000.