St Andrews is home to a bustling art and design scene, yet the work of local artists is somewhat overlooked by students in favour of student artists. Fife is home to a number of artists, and St Andrews presents an opportunity for their work to be advertised universally through the international status of our little town. Their work can be found by simply walking into one of the local independent gift shops. A little gem nestled on South Street, is a shop called Top Drawer, which is a short distance from Jannetta’s. The shop is small, yet packed with beautiful hand-crafted gifts and homemade cards, all produced by local artists.
After chatting to the lovely owner, Jenny Morrison, it is clear she is passionate about sharing all the beautiful work that local talented artists have to offer. An exceptional example of craftsmanship within the shop is the range ‘Glass by Kathryn’, produced in Leslie, Fife, by Edinburgh School of Art graduate Kathryn Neale. Neale fuses and melts glass using her own techniques and the outcome is stunning. All of the glass work is cut, drilled, polished, etched and finished by hand. There are many products available, from beautiful colourfully painted glass clocks to coasters and glass hangings, many with a Scottish twist featuring Highland cows and thistles. Her studio can be found in Leslie, but Top Drawer conveniently has a wide range of her products available to buy in St Andrews.
Pottery is another popular artistic offering from Fife, and Top Drawer is home to a fun range in store called ‘Methil Moggies’, a collection of crafted cats, dogs and Highland cattle handmade in Methil, Fife by Earthern Images. They are made by using stoneware clay, fired in their own pottery workshop. The products are unglazed and resemble sandstone, both in looks and texture, which is a greatly effective technique, different from the usual pottery method which results in a smooth clay. They have even made a Hamish McHamish cat exclusively for Top Drawer. The range of cute cats is certainly something different, and the skill used by the potters is second-to-none.
Another type of craftsmanship that is prevalent in Fife is candle-making. McKelvie Candles are known as Scotland’s favourite candles, and they have a range of beautiful products, including hand poured, long lasting candles and premium reed diffusers, made in Glenrothes. There are lovely Scottish scents like the traditional ‘Clootie dumpling’, ‘Raspberry Cranachan’ and ‘Coo Toffee’, along with many other floral and unusual scents and the handmade and crafted candles are artwork in their own right. They are attractive in appearance as well as in scent, as each has a distinctive colour and wax crystals sprinkled inside, housed in a tartan jar to complete the Scottish look.
In St Andrews, there are many gift shops selling beautiful handmade jewellery, and Top Drawer is no different. In the South Street store, you can find a beautiful range of silver jewellery by jewellery designer Clara Smith. She has individually hand crafted each piece of silver, adding hints of gold and copper. Each piece is made in Perthshire.
Fife’s local artists may be overshadowed by our own talented student body, yet you can catch a glimpse of something different and unique by simply walking into one of the many independent gift shops in our town, which we walk by every day without noticing. So, why not have a stroll down our three streets and go a little deeper; ask questions and find out more about local art and design produce. A gift shop may be an unlikely place to discover hidden talent, but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. You may be surprised to find out about the great wealth of talented artists and designers that this small town has to offer.