CULTURAL REGENERATION WITH NARTURE

Saskia Singer

Ayr is a town that has a rich cultural history dating to the days of the bard. A town that is proud host to the oldest art deco cinema building in Scotland and as the recent rejuvenation taking place in Ayr High Street sets a precedent in preservation, we looked back at Ayr’s High Street past for the next step in once again achieving Ayr’s legendary status in Scotland’s culture and arts.

When asked, any Ayrshire born child will tell you that Robert Burns is Ayr’s prodigal son. A main player in Scottish culture and quoted worldwide once a year. However, the town of Ayr’s rich cultural past goes beyond the bard alone.

In more recent history, during the 60s, Ayr had a tourism reputation akin to Blackpool in its heyday. With a coastline made for postcards and families travelling in their droves to see donkeys and even some (now outlawed) animal entertainment, Ayr’s High Street was often bustling with residents of Ayr visiting one of the many family owned businesses, holding community spirit close to their hearts and depending on it.

In the 70s and 80s, Ayr’s nightlife took precedence with iconic bands such as Iron Maiden playing at The Pavilion in 1980. Ayr’s gig culture was truly underway and the music scene grew. In the 90s, gigs made way for nightclubs and club nights to take over, with The Orient cinema becoming The Babylon nightclub. However, community spirit helped the High Street thrive while big retailers began to pop up. Many Facebook groups exist for reminiscing the rose-tinted pools of nostalgia in Auld Ayr itself, and these groups are assisting in drumming up thought-provoking discourse on how to return Ayr to its cultural glory days.

Despite challenges posed by shuttered storefronts, we endeavour to reignite Ayr’s cultural renaissance, leveraging the town’s innate creativity. Our mission is to provide educational and experiential opportunities through our workshops, already underway, encompassing a diverse array of food, wellbeing, arts and crafts. Central to our ethos is ensuring accessibility, welcoming families and individuals from all walks of life.

At Narture, one of our resident artists, Hannah Feuerstein, guides workshops alongside her latest exhibition titled IngrainedGesture as Memory in our new food and arts venue, Café Shape, located at 32 Newmarket Street. Hannah’s workshops explore the realm of printmaking, encompassing lino-printing, a process that intricately melds carving with the enchantment of printmaking, alongside mono-printing, electro-etching, and a creative writing session. Each workshop is thoughtfully curated to ignite or rejuvenate creative curiosity, equipping participants with newfound skills and bolstering their confidence in creativity and critical thinking.

Together, we can celebrate and embrace Ayr’s rich heritage, weaving its unique threads to Scotland’s artistic tapestry.

For more information about Narture’s exhibitions, workshops, and events programme, please visit our website: www.narture.co.uk