ARTISTS in the Borders show that "art is vital" as annual fair returns.

Artists joining the McInroy & Wood Borders Art Fair (BAF) celebrate nature and relationships through different mediums.

Taking to the Borders Event Centre in Kelso from March 15-17, the fair will welcome more than 70 artists and makers.

Three Borders artists taking part are painter Claire Beattie, sculptor Luke Batchelor, and visual artist Anna King.

Claire's work is often inspired by the trees and landscape surrounding her Duns home and the Lammermuir Hills.

Border Telegraph: Claire Beattie with one of her pieces inspired by trees around DunsClaire Beattie with one of her pieces inspired by trees around Duns (Image: Colin Hattersley)

This year mark's the first time that she has a solo stand at BAF.

She said: “My work is about layering colour to create space and depth in the picture plane with trees often as the centre point.

"I like my work to have a sense of calm and quiet although there is a lot of colour and mark making layered up over time on the surface.”

Claire is a freelance art educator and also works with mental health organisations.

She added: “Art is vital.

"It allows people to experience a different side of themselves, for their minds to breathe, to take some time out of their daily routines and let their imaginations play.

"It’s very good for people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Originally from Northumberland, but now based at The Hirsel Estate in Coldstream, Luke Batchelor draws inspiration from the joys of love, whether that be between a mother and child, or between partners.

He said: “Most of my work is figurative, and I use the local sandstone which is good quality and very attractive to look at. I don’t overwork the stone; I like to leave marks on it to show how it’s handmade.

“I like to make things that evoke a happy response. The mother and child motif has a universal appeal to which everyone can relate."

Border Telegraph: Luke Batchelor with his sculpture of a mother and childLuke Batchelor with his sculpture of a mother and child (Image: Colin Hattersley)

On his more sensual sculptures, including that of two men embracing, he added: "As a gay man myself I want to share and celebrate the joy of same sex relationships.”

Luke had previously worked in Edinburgh as an historic buildings conservator - working on buildings such as Rosslyn Chapel and St Giles Cathedral - before taking a leap and becoming a sculptor after a farmer let him use an old stable building overlooking Holy Island to work from.

After setting up his sculpture and stone carving business Luke was featured on the BBC programme Make It At Market, which helped to boost his profile.

He said: “I had just one commission at the time, but word got around about my work and the orders started coming in.”

Another Borders artist, Anna King, uses her work to show the power of nature when it takes over abandoned spaces.

From Gordon, Anna moved to Dundee to study at Duncan of Jordanstone before returning to the region.

While studying in the city she became interested in how nature embedded itself into a less than hospitable environment.

She said: “I started out painting industrial wastelands. I had come to the city from the country and was looking for any signs of wildness.

“In the countryside we have this idea of ‘untouched natural beauty’, but there’s really no such thing. Humans have made their mark on everything.

“What I like is the way that when the people are gone the wildness creeps back in and how wildness survives at the edges and on the outskirts.

“There’s a real difference between the straight lines of the geometric and architectural and the way that the plants and trees are so different, looking chaotic and doing anything they want.”

Border Telegraph: Anna King with one of her paintings of an abandoned building reclaimed by natureAnna King with one of her paintings of an abandoned building reclaimed by nature (Image: Colin Hattersley)

While Anna's work has focussed on how nature reclaims abandoned spaces, she also has a fascination with areas where pine trees have been commercially felled.

She said: “What always amazes me is how, immediately after the trees have been cut, it looks desolate and empty, but the native species that have been crowded out for decades then start to come back with incredible speed.”

Both Anna and Claire have been awarded Borders Art Fair residencies at Marchmont House, near Duns, in recognition of the quality of their art.

BAF is a family friendly event which has attracted more than 4,000 visitors to the region.

As well as stalls, the fair offers a range of pop-up studios and demonstrations, as well as an indoor food village with a variety of food vans.

The Borders Art Fair will open at 10am each day and close at 4pm on Friday and Sunday (March 15 and 17) and at 5pm on the Saturday (March 16).

Visitors to BAF are asked to pay what they can to enter, with funds going towards next year's event.

For more information and details on this year's exhibitors, visit: and follow BAF on social media for the latest updates.