Border Fine Arts was founded in 1974 in Langholm in the Esk Valley, on the border of Scotland and England – hence the company’s name. From early on, the wildlife, tractors, sheep, birds and time-honoured ways of life of the region inspired a collection of animal figurines, which, initially, were cast from bronze and silver. Soon, however, as Ray Ayres, Master Sculptor, recalls, customers were asking for figurines that were full of detail but were also painted so they were even more realistic. To satisfy this demand the firm became a pioneer of the resin cold cast making process and developed an extensive and exclusive palette of enamel paints that could recreate the subtle shades and tones of each and every subject.
The workforce grew in leaps and bounds to keep pace with the orders that poured in. Middleholm was quickly outgrown and premises were found in the town, which in turn were expanded to accommodate demand. Border Fine Arts has now become a household name and leader in the manufacture of superb, lifelike figurines. So much so, that In 1986, Border Fine Arts was honoured to win the Scottish Business Achievement Award in recognition of the company's growth and commitment to making a quality product.
In addition to the wildlife studies and farming scenes created for the Classic Collection, Border Fine Arts now also produces a broad range of collectable figurines and accessories for its Studio Collection, and continues to develop and manufacture many famous licensed collectable brands such as Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh.
In 2006, Border Fine Arts Master Sculptor Ray Ayres celebrated his 30th year with the company, and marked the occasion by embarking on a round-Britain tour. Both he and the company have come a long way since those tentative first experiments around the kitchen table at Middleholm, but the journey has always been one of enthusiasm and discovery. As Ray himself puts it, 'I don’t feel jaded, and I put that down to a high level of job satisfaction…there are always challenging projects in the pipeline to keep me feeling fresh and enthusiastic'.
The perfect ethos, in fact, for a forward-thinking company of limitless invention, whose continued dedication to authenticity and quality of workmanship help to explain the success of Border Fine Arts.
After being highly successful for decades, a decline in demand for traditional scenes led to the closure of the firm in 2016.