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Arts and crafts in East Ayrshire

East Ayrshire is in Scotland. It has a population of around 120,000 and covers approximately 126,000 hectares. Here is a list of nearby or neighbouring counties: Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire.

East Ayrshire (called Siorrachd Inbhir Air an Ear in Scottish Gaelic) has historic associations with the lives of famous Scots including William Wallace, whose family owned a castle in Riccarton, and Robert Burns who was inspired to write many of his greatest works whilst living there. During the Industrial Revolution textile production, coal mining and ironworks came to dominate the local economy, though there is now growing appreciation of the areas picturesque natural landscape. The largest town in East Ayrshire is Kilmarnock, which has a number of historic buildings including The Dick Institute, which houses a library, a museum which has local and natural history collections and two art galleries that host exhibitions of work by contemporary artists. Also located in Kilmarnock is Dean Castle Country park, where visitors can explore the picturesque park and tour the 14th century castle, which has collections including armour and musical instruments. The Palace Theatre hosts a range of performing arts events such as drama, music and dance and the Burns Monument was constructed to commemorate the life and work of the poet Robert Burns. Located in the town of Cumnock, the Baird Institute has collections of Mauchline Ware, Cumnock pottery and serves as a venue for contemporary as well as traditional arts and crafts. A house in the town of Mauchline that Robert Burns lived in between the years 1784 and 1788, is now the Burns House Museum, which has exhibits including manuscripts and items from his daily life.

Dumfries House is an 18th century Palladian style mansion situated a couple of miles from the town of Cumnock. The house was designed by the Scottish architects John Adam and Robert Adam, brothers who were both born during the 1720s in what is now the town of Kirkcaldy in the historic county of Fife. Fine period furnishings within the house include Chippendale furniture, commissioned by the 5th Earl of Dumfries, William Dalrymple, for whom the house was built. The walls of the Tapestry Room are decorated with tapestries depicting scenes from classical mythology and the house also contains paintings by artists including Anne Forbes and Thomas Hudson. The house is set among extensive grounds, which include gardens, woodlands, a sawmill powered by a water wheel and an Adam bridge. There is also a heritage programme with workshops where courses are run teaching traditional craft skills and residencies for artists and designers. Other attractions in East Ayrshire include the Whitelee Wind Farm Visitor Centre, the ruins of Loudoun Castle, the Doon Valley Museum in the market town of Dalmellington and the nearby Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, which is unique in Britain and was chosen as a location due to the darkness of the night sky, which makes it well suited to astronomical observations.