Founded in 1902 as a result of a bequest by the artist Patrick Allan, Hospitalfield in Arbroath was once a postgraduate residential art school, with artists such as Joan Eardley, Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde passing through its halls. Now a centre for artists on residencies, both from the UK and abroad, it opens its doors, artistically, to the public for two “opening weekends” a year, and a summer “Fieldwork” programme. Over the next five years, Director Lucy Byatt will oversee the expansion of this historic red sandstone building into an art venue open to the public year-round.

In the meantime, the Spring Open Weekend is upon us, a three day series of installations and talks, rather like a mini-festival. And the talks are key, says Byatt, for Angus audiences want to meet the artists who have, frequently, been living on their doorsteps for many months. This year's theme is Roaming. “The core idea is about travel and transit,” says Byatt, “The way that you are permitted to or not permitted to. But it is also about how important transport is in bringing ideas and knowledge and cultural understanding of one another.” The theme is pertinent, not least in our current political climate.

Sarah Rose, Rania Stephan and Rachel Adams are the artists presenting physical pieces; Fergus Tibbs, of the Free Drawing School, who completed a residency in 2018, will spend the weekend giving workshops on drawing and natural pigment.

Originally from New Zealand, now based in Glasgow, Sarah Rose had “no knowledge of living in a rural location in Scotland,” says Byatt, before taking up the Meander residency (funded by Paths for All) at Hospitalfield. “The right to roam policy was of great interest to her. It sounds so generous, but it's very ambiguous. You think you have the right to go anywhere you like, but it's only under very specific conditions.” Rose talked to Angus walking groups about this and climate change, and she took in the coastline with its many fruit farms, assimilating it all in a new performance work “Byproduct” that was the direct result of her residency.

It is, says Byatt, an amazing thing, a sculptural work performed using the by-product of the fruit industry in a distillation process that forces the pressure of air coming out of distilling fruits to play ten glass organ pipes, “like the breath of the fruit,” smiles Byatt.

In the gardens, Rachel Adams is installing a scaffolding structure – inspired, Byatt says, by the poly tunnels that dot the coast – and covered in blue printed textile like a computer motherboard. Inside, sculptural mushrooms and ferns, which visitors will discover as they walk in to them. “She's interested in a similar idea to Rose – the construction of nature,” says Byatt. Adams' work is this year's sculpture commission, and will remain in the gardens until September.

The final work is different again. “Train Trains: A Bypass” is a film by Lebanese filmmaker Rania Stephan, edited in 2017 from footage shot in 1999. Taking its route along the old railway line, now defunct, linking Lebanon and Palestine, Syria and Turkey, the countries it served split by war and politics, it is a lovely and elegiac film, tracing the route of the old railway down through the communities who live their lives over the remains of the track, sometimes quite literally. Here, it runs through an orchard, there, under a tent in a camp of Palestinian refugees. All down the line, old men and women reminisce about the happiness that their lives on or around the railway gave, how they would like it to return, how they travelled, how it gave them purpose, what these other places, no longer accessible, looked like.

All along, Stephan ghosts, quite literally, films about railways, about the movement of people along these arteries, over the memories of the people who live here. Classics of culture from Egyptian, Indian and American cinema, and shots, too of soldiers loaded up on trains. “People loved each other”, one person says. “There was no war, no bombings.” Stephan takes Polaroid snapshots of the people she talks to as she takes cinematic snapshots of their lives. The film is full of wonderful affirmations of the warmth of humanity, of welcome to strangers, of curiosity, and of longing and great loss. A life on the line, imagined, as it has been imagined, as it is, as it was – and all before mobile phones, before the ubiquity of the internet grafted over the memories, just 20 years ago.

Stephan will, along with the other artists, be in conversation next weekend in a packed schedule of talks, performances, walks and workshops amongst the historic rooms and studios of Hospitalfield – well worth, if you will excuse the pun, travelling for.

ROAMING: Spring Season Open Weekend, Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, Angus, 01241 656 124 26 - 28 Apr, Fri 6.30pm - 8pm; Sat, 11am - 6pm; Sun 11am - 4.30pm

Don't Miss

Alec Finlay explores the nature of place in philosophical mappings and chartings of the landscape, both physical and cultural. Whilst this exhibition brings together a number of his recent projects, its heart is in “gathering”, an ambitious creative mapping of the Gaelic landscape of the Highlands, based on Adam Watson's comprehensive guide to Gaelic placenames in the Cairngorms. Finlay weaves in important ideas of rewilding and the right to care for the environment, vital in the current climate emergency.

Alec Finlay: Gathering, W OR M, Peacock Visual Arts, 11 Castle Street, Aberdeen,www.peacockvisualarts.comUntil 18 May, Tues – Sat, 10am – 5pm

Critic's Choice

A partnership between Scotland's two major centres for photography, Stills' latest exhibition, AMBIT, is full of the kind of juxtapositions of vision and aesthetic at which this city centre gallery excels. Run in conjunction with Glasgow's Street Level Photoworks, this is an exhibition of the new and the innovative, both galleries showing a different batch of photographers at opposite ends of the train line.

Amongst many diverse images, which range from black and white darkroom-processed film to drone shots and camera-less photography, there is work from places as wide-ranging as Orkney and Ethiopia. Mhairi Law's sobering “The Darkest Dawn” was made in commemoration of the Iolaire disaster which saw the loss of over 200 men returning from the First World War within sight of the Lewis shore in the blackness and gales before dawn on New Year's Day, 1919. Law's photos of the marker on the Beasts of Holm rocks, on which the ship foundered, chart the nightmare of absolute dark and the grim dawn.

Kieran Dodds' “Hierotopia” looks at the loss of ancient forests in Ethiopia and the life-supporting 5% which still exist, huddled in sacred landscapes around Tewahedo orthodox churches. There is work, too, from Alex Hall, Brittonie Fletcher and Frances Scott, whilst Morwenna Kearsley shows “Evasive Action”, three large black and white silver gelatin prints that were produced in the darkroom at Stills. And that, indeed, is the unique worth of Stills – currently under threat from a three-fold city-centre rent increase - it provides not only gallery space for showing innovative work, but production space in which to make work, experiment and exchange ideas.

AMBIT, Stills Centre for Photography, 23 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, 0131 622 6200, Until 2 Jun, Daily, 11am – 6pm