Into the New Year

This year has been most unusual for us all and Hospitalfield is no exception. Although we have hosted almost nobody in the house it feels that it has been a very busy and, in some ways, productive year. This newsletter gives an overview of the year and a few sparks of information for the coming year.

In January the first phase of our Future Plan capital development, the Gardens and Garden Buildings, started on site. By April the contractor was locked down, resuming work again in July, we are now back on track for opening in late April 2021.

Welcoming visitors to the Gardens and Garden Buildings, revealing the restored Fernery and launching the new Café will be a very exciting opportunity for Hospitalfield. As we turn the organisation to provide a generous destination in Angus, as we introduce people visiting from near and far to our horticultural story, gradually Hospitalfield will become a far more familiar place for many more people to share with us.

We can now see the designer and horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett’s garden coming together as we get the plants and bulbs in the ground and expect the delivery of 21 varieties of Scottish apple trees for the orchard. Our architects Caruso St John have been wonderfully painstaking in their approach to the project through this tricky time and I would like to thank them and all of our design team for their work this year.

Over the summer Lucy focused on the development of our bid to the Tay City Deal and in September our full business case was approved by the Tay Cities Committee and this December the Scottish and UK Governments signed the Deal. This investment unlocks funding for the entire region but for Hospitalfield the contribution of £5.5m to our £11m capital programme will be absolutely invaluable. The Trust will be able to deliver the vision that we have set out; restoring the heritage and creating world class facilities for our contemporary arts programme which will continue to support artists just as Hospitalfield has done for over 200 years.

Hospitalfield will become a destination for local communities and those exploring this fascinating region from much further afield. We have raised £3m to match this sum and still of course have a fundraising challenge but we now have so much more momentum than we have had in previous times.

January 2021 is bright as we bring the design team together to start Phase 2. It is very exciting to be getting to this point, something unachievable without the support of Angus Council who have assisted with vital advice on the complex funding bid and championed the aims and significance of Hospitalfield where this has been necessary.

For the programme the team have devised and managed wonderful outside events in 2020, we have found our way around the guidelines and kept people safe. We welcomed 700 people to our Beer & Berries event in September and lots of local people enjoying our winter walks and delicious takeaways, wonderful food as always emerging from the Hospitalfield kitchens. During lockdown our kitchens remained open cooking takeaways on a Wednesday night which provided us with the funds to make over 1000 meals throughout the spring and summer for local people who were shielding. This project was nominated for the Achates Philanthropy Prize.

At the beginning of lockdown we moved the Free Drawing School online to much acclaim and worked on the series of Stories from Hospitalfield. We ran the Summer School online with over 40 attendees over 2 days and, through all this, have learned far more about how we can consider the digital space as a means to draw people together, however of course we still want to meet and be together. There is no substitute for this.

We are cautiously optimistic for 2021 as we plan the programme, something that we can only do thanks to the support of Creative Scotland funding. Thanks to this support we can invite artists to work with us and re-kindle the energy around our residency programmes. We have devised a Studio Time Bursary for the artists we will work with in 2021 to support them as they develop the commission. In 2021 we will receive grant funding from three trusts who, together will support a much larger Graduate Programme. We must consider the difficulties for those new artists who graduated in 2019 and 2020 into a closed world. We hope that this programme will provide an important incentive for new artists to keep their practice progressing and enable them to form the networks that are so important to each emerging generation.

We very much hope that you are planning a warm Christmas and that you can see a good 2021 ahead as we are determined to do.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the spring.

Image: Pyrus communis ‘Williams Bon Chrétien’ against garden wall at Hospitalfield, lower courses c.1250