AN ARTIST from Sorn is helping transform an iconic building up the road in Mauchline Award-winning Elaine Johnston has leased the historic Burns Memorial Monument which opened as a showcase for her work on October 27.

Called The Johnston Fine Art Gallery, it will open five days a week with Ms Johnston’s former mentor, fellow Ayrshire artist Peter Howson, also expected to stage a display at some point.

Amongst the various accolades she has earned are The Young Achiever’s Award for Scotland presented by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the Design for Diplomats, received from the then prime minister, Tony Blair, at Downing Street.

Ms Johnston, who trained at Glasgow School of Art, said: “I am delighted to be able to bring this historic local building back into use as an exhibition and work space.

“I was keen to stay in East Ayrshire and help boost the local economy but was struggling to find a suitable work space until this venue became available.”

The landmark can be seen for miles by traffic approaching Mauchline from all directions, towering above the village, but it has undergone a major transition inside.

It will comprise two floors of exhibition space together with a studio area where the public can watch the artist at work.

There will a wide selection of contemporary art on sale, all by the cream of Scotland’s artists, while Ms Johnston is also investing in East Ayrshire’s artists of the future.

She said: “I will be mentoring art students from local schools in art techniques, portfolio preparation and the skills required to develop a successful art-based business.”

As well as a boost to East Ayrshire, the art gallery will be a significant addition to the tourist attractions in the town which are linked to Scotland’s national bard.

From its top floor viewing platform, Burns Memorial Monument offers spectacular views right across East Ayrshire and beyond, as far as the Head of Ayr and Arran.

For those with mobility issues who might not manage the 92 steps to the top there will be a monitor in the ground floor area allowing viewing of the various works on show.

Entry is free to the gallery which will be open from 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday, and between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays, while private viewings at other times can be arranged by appointment.

Visit or call Ms Johnston on 07826 743652 for more information or to view her works.