How do we celebrate ‘al fresco creativity’? By staying indoors and zooming in on plein air painting, inspired by the French ‘en plein air’ meaning ‘out, in fresh air’? By taking a vicarious detour to the French Riviera and the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria before traversing Perthshire for the quintessential Scottish landscape? Could this landscape be alongside freshwater lochs, enchanted forests, cloud observatories and giant jute murals on hillsides? Could Cateran Ecomuseum be home of Perthshire Plein Air? What could we learn from Pskov Plein Air?

These were just some of the questions we posed on 15 April 2021, at the start of the second of our six Friends of Pskov monthly live conversations. Six months, six blethers – all marking the 30th anniversary of the signing of the twinning agreement between Perth and Pskov 1991-2021. For our second blether we invited seven artists from the twin cities of Pskov, Perth and Tartu who shared their own experiences of plainairism and the town twinning movement, of portable easels and activism. We continued to construct bridges on the foundations of contemporary art over the rivers flowing through the twin cities of Perth, Pskov and Tartu. In times of restricted movement and restraints on gatherings indoors, we were pleased to head to the great outdoors to re-discover the international tradition of plein air residencies and focus on Pskov Plein Air which has been a popular creative residency destination for artists from all 15 twin cities of Pskov, including Perth and Tartu since its inception in 2003.

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting two editions of Pskov Plein Air in 2020 and 2021, we were determined to turn our second Friends of Pskov ZOOM IN ON event into a reunion for participants in this residency including artists Oleg Tsvetkov (also founding curator of Pskov Plein Air), Andrew Hunter, Dave Hunt, Serafima Zibnitskaya, Barbara Pease, Inna Lyalina and musicians Svetlana Rodionova and Alexei Ipifinov.

We were delighted to round off this reunion with a brief presentation of plein air painting performances set in the CCTV surveillance cityscapes of Edinburgh, Graz and London by our special guest Mare Tralla, an Estonian British artist and activist who will also feature in our next Friends of Pskov ZOOM IN ON gatherings. Concluding remarks and contributions were made by Friends of Pskov members Iliyana Nedkova, Meg Luckins and Sally Bonnar, Perth-based artist Su Grierson, a tireless curator of international artists exchanges, Caron Ironside, co-founder of Perthshire Artisans and Moira Gavin of Perth Creative Exchange as part of WASPS Trust providing workshops and artists studios across Scotland.

Watch the edited recording of our ZOOM IN ON PLEIN AIR CREATIVITY by clicking on the image above or by subscribing to our Friends of Pskov YouTube channel here.

ZOOM IN ON PLEIN AIR CREATIVITY was curated by Iliyana Nedkova in association with Pskov Plein Air, Perthshire Open Studios, Perth Creative Exchange and Rossotrudnichestvo, London as part of the ZOOM IN ON monthly gatherings which started on 15 March 2021 as an initiative of Friends of Pskov Association, Perth marking the 30th twinning anniversary of Perth and Pskov. The ZOOM IN ON initiative is supported by Perth and Kinross Council and the UK Twin Towns and Sister Cities Foundation. Experience the inaugural ZOOM IN ON PUSHKIN AND SOUTAR evening of spoken word, live music and poetry in Russian, English and Scots hosted by Friends of Pskov Twin City Ambassador Jim Mackintosh and friends.