Two former Bo’ness Academy pupils have created a design hub and gallery in their own home town.
Diane Cook and Lindsey Parker first met when they did Higher Art together.
They subsequently went on to art school, Diane studying in Edinburgh and Lindsey in Dundee.
Diane forged a successful career in fashion design in Glasgow, while Lindsey created jewellery in London.
The old school friends were reunited when they returned to their home town.
And last September, they opened Firefly Design in North Street, Bo’ness.
Funded to the tune of £3000 by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, the aim of the social enterprise is two-fold: to provide a gallery space in the town for local artists to showcase their work and to run workshops for young and old to learn the art of design.
In the last few months, the duo have been testing the water to see which classes resonate with locals.
While knitting and card making didn’t quite hit the right note, painting, jewellery making, after school and portfolio classes have been a big success.
Now Firefly Design is looking for three local artists to showcase their work in the gallery too.
Diane, who is a lecturer in fashion design with business at Caledonian Univeristy in Glasgow, said: “Since September, Lindsey and I have showcased our own work in the gallery.
“But the aim was always to open up space, both in the gallery and workshop, to enable other local designers to display their work.
“We’re now looking for three people – from Bo’ness, Linlithgow, Polmont or Grangemouth – to share the gallery space.
“It’s a fantastic opprtunity for local designers as it gives them a platform to show their work locally at a fraction of what it would cost to open their own studio.
“During their three months with us, they will also be able to use all the tools in our workshop.
“And we’d like them to share their skills with locals by running design classes.”
It is hoped that a variety of different designers will be featured in the gallery every three months.
Diane explained: “We want to be able to rotate the designers so that we’re always offering something new for customers.
“The designers will enjoy the unique opportunity of a short term lease in a gallery which has been beautifully refurbished and decorated in a vintage theme.”
Designers interested in joining the Firefly Design stable should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Diane and Lindsey are hard at work ensuring the gallery remains a talking point.
Stocking a wide range of unique designs, from upcycled furniture and lamp shades to forward-thinking fashion, jewellery and gifts, they are proud of what they have already achieved.
But they are not content to rest on their laurels.
Diane said: “Good art and design is always thought of as being in the cities – we’re proving it doesn’t have to be.
“We want to inspire local people, young and old.
“There are people with a lot of talent here; all you have to do is take a walk round the arches on Fair Day to truly appreciate that.
“That’s one of the many reasons we wanted to open a gallery in the town.
“We also had friends who travelled to Bo’ness and described it as a hidden gem.
“We’d definitely agree with that. It’s underrated, undervalued and underdeveloped, which is a good thing as that means it’s also unspoiled.
“There’s a lot of history and heritage in the town and we have tapped into that in the design of the gallery.
“But while we’ve gone for a vintage theme, the designs we are creating are modern and unique.
“So many people have popped in since we opened and loved it, then they’ve come back to do the classes.
“Our aim is to continually evolve and offer people a chance to create their own unique designs.”
With Lindsey specialising in jewellery, pottery and batik and Diane in art and textiles, their classes are already a big hit.
Bringing in more designers will only add to their offering.
Diane added: “We’re a social enterprise so all the money is ploughed back into the gallery.
“Classes cost £15 for three hours but we’re offering people an experience here.
“It’s not something you’ll find in a retail park – it’s a niche in the market but the demand is definitely there.
“We’re still finding our feet but we’re delighted with the response we’ve had so far and are optimistic about Firefly Design’s future.”