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Kirrie rings the changes with new art gallery – in old red phone box

Fife artist Lada Wilson at the new Gallery 128 in Kirriemuir. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.
Fife artist Lada Wilson at the new Gallery 128 in Kirriemuir. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

The wee red town of Kirriemuir has added a new art gallery to its list of local attractions – in one of the town’s old wee red telephone kiosks.

And the novel transformation adds to a list of Kirrie conversions which have seen disused BT boxes become defibrillator cabinets and even a mini library.

Locals are being invited to pop along to the official opening of the 128 Telephone Box Gallery on Saturday afternoon.

Kirriemuir phone box
Artist Lada Wilson with Frances Havenga (left) and Heather Kelly of Kirriemuir Community Council at Gallery 128. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

Artist inspired by Fife phone box gallery

Conversion of the old K6 kiosk has been a partnership project by artist Deirdre Bennett and Kirrie Community Council.

And Perth College creative industries lecturer Deirdre gained inspiration from a similar venture set up by an artist friend in Fife.

Lada Wilson’s 201 Gallery in an old Strathkinnes phone box has been a success story for four years.

Deirdre said: “I moved to Kirriemuir in the middle of lockdown and it is such a lovely place.

Kirriemuir art gallery
Artist Lada Wilson will give a performance piece to open the new gallery. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

“The whole atmosphere of the town is wonderful and it is a great place to be.”

She became involved in local art projects such as the Signs of Change initiative.

And then stumbled across the disused Marywell Brae kiosk.

“I wanted to give something back to my new home,” added Deirdre.

“So I set out to create a micro contemporary art gallery, modelled on the 201 Telephone Box Gallery in Strathkinness.”

Saturday opening event

The Fife gallery’s creator and curator, Lada Wilson, will open Gallery 128 with a performance piece and talk on Saturday at 2.30pm.

It falls on the anniversary week of town author and Peter Pan creator J M Barrie’s birth in 1860.

And Deirdre hopes the gallery unveiling will be the beginning of something to keep locals engaged.

“My whole approach is social practice, working with communities and people,” she said.

“I’m looking for contemporary artists, established and emerging.

Lada Wilson
Artist Lada Wilson in the phone box gallery. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

“It is somewhere for local, national and international artists to showcase their work.

“And I’d like to open up an art competition every year for local children.

“It is very much a community thing, but with connections further afield,” she said.

Novel number name

Like its Fife counterpart, the gallery takes its name from the last three digits of the kiosk’s original number.

“Even when it was being done up we had people stopping to tell us some of their stories about the phone box, which was great,” said Deirdre.

Kirriemuir Community Council chairwoman Heather Kelly said the group was delighted to see it up and running.

“Knowing we had adopted phone boxes in the past, Deirdre approached us to ask if we could help with this project,” she said.

Kirriemuir gallery
Frances Havenga and Healthr Kelly of Kirriemuir Community Council with artist Lada Wilson. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

“It needs to be a community group such as ourselves which adopt it from BT.

“So once again they were happy to give it to us for £1.

“We went about getting it painted and done up and it is looking so much better.

“It’s great to see it being used for something so different and we’re delighted we could make it happen for Deirdre.

“It was a bit of an eyesore before, but now it is generating so much interest,” Heather added.

Defib campaign success

A few years’ ago the community council adopted disused kiosks in Maryton, Northmuir and near the Newton Hotel.

And a successful £6,000 funding campaign saw them converted into lifesaving defibrillator cabinets.

“We also took on the old red kiosk at Knowehead and it is now a book box,” said Heather.

“People can pick up and leave books in it and we’ve volunteers who go in and keep it tidy and stocked.

“It’s really been very popular.”

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