About us

Since 1977, when the Arts Association at West Street opened its doors, the PCAA has operated with the goal of encouraging Arts participation and providing a space  for local people to engage in all manner of artistic endeavour. We are a membership organisation and these days with all those cuts we keep going thanks to our members.

Today, as well as providing space for art groups and classes to meet, the Arts Centre at West Street is the home of a successful Craft Co-operative, where the work of over 20 local artists is displayed and can be purchased.

We at the PCAA are a charity who are committed to bringing the community and art closer together, from the local community and from further afield, and to continue to provide a space affordably for artists to sharing and develop their artistic talents.

We host Art Exhibitions,  musical performances, story telling and poetry evenings and participate in many community-led events such as the national Voluntary Arts Week, and the local Midfest, a celebration of Midlothian’s cultural heritage and talent, and we do collaborations with local Schools and Art groups. We are also thankful for the support of Midlothian Council and Voluntary Arts Scotland.

The PCAA has been and still is pivotal in building and maintaining the long-standing tradition of the Penicuik Arts Festival,  now Penfest, which since 2013 runs as part of Midfest in September. Or maybe, as some locals say “Midfest is just part of Penfest!” There are always a good number of events to get involved with to suit all tastes and age groups, from music and poetry performance and workshops to art exhibitions and craft workshops, and of course the studio trail. Come along to watch, or to try your hand at something new!

We hope to see you there, and look forward to welcoming you to Penicuik Arts Association, not just during the Festival but every month to events and exhibitions. The popular Gallery Cafe hosts regular exhibitions of local talent of all ages and stages.

You are most heartily invited to make use of the building and the facilities to hold your own events (hiring a room, or staging an event) and above all to join and build the flow of volunteers, the foundation of it all. Enjoy browsing the website, be inspired by the many different kinds of events and photo archives from a number of sites, and engage also with us online and on social media, such as on the new facebook group page “The Arts in and around Penicuik”.

Over the last year we have been not only subject to cuts in Council Funding, but also to a very leaky roof! If you can contribute to keeping the PCAA part of the local community via fundraising, please get in touch..

Looking back a bit further

text by Roger Kelly

Suburbanised in the sixties, Penicuik grew up around the old Kirk and well of St Mungo, with papermills, three railways, short-lived mines, a barracks, good examples of buildings by Pilkington (his architectural work across Britain was celebrated in an exhibition at PCAA some years back), and above all a striking landscape setting between the Pentland Hills and the wooded valleys of the Esk.

Take a look for yourself.PCAA’s exhibition, Penicuik Looking Back, was organised with Penicuik Historical Society and Midlothian Council in May 1997 at the Cowan Institute (Penicuik Town Hall). Timed for the end of Hunter and Lass Week, the exhibition contained photographs of many aspects of Penicuik’s history, banners, notes about the French Prisoners’ Monument, Prime Minister Gladstone’s time in Penicuik during the great 1880 Midlothian campaign.

Penicuik has been a papermaking town for three hundred years (Penicuik blue paper was said to have been carried by the Darien expedition in 1698). Some of the key figures in the papermaking story like Agnes Anderson, Marjorie Fidler and the Cowan family were recorded in Penicuik Looking Back.

Penicuik’s main papermills closed twenty years ago, but the Dalmore Mill nearby at Auchendinny continues to operate. Its owners, Curtis Fine Papers, along with MacSween’s Haggis, helped to support Pulp Fiction, our 1998 exhibition of papier-mâché figures by local artist Jan Miller.

Penicuik Looking Back included information on Penicuik people like the little-known pioneer of industrial development in Finland, James Finlayson and the town’s popular novelist of a hundred years ago, S R Crockett, It covered the sad episode of Penicuik’s Napoleonic prisoner-of-war camps far more fully than can be reflected here. Most of the exhibition was devoted to the social life of the town: particularly the traditions of the Penicuik Free Gardeners (whose banners and flower buskit were on display), the Annual Penicuik Gala Queen, the Penicuik Silver Band, the Curling Club, and the Hunter and Lass.

Leave a Reply