LOCAL artists were not to be denied by the pandemic as they set sail on an exciting new era with a virtual creative exhibition.

Talents across Inverclyde got involved in the Inverclyde Libraries 'Making Waves' project - expert-led creative and cultural classes covering writing, art, song and graphic novels.

The programme, which was funded by a £25k grant from the Scottish Libraries & Information Council's Public Library Improvement Fund, should have ended with an exhibition, but with Covid-19 restrictions it was unable to go ahead as planned.

Library staff instead came up with an inventive way to showcase the burst of creativity online.

William Henderson, senior library assistant, said: "It was a real learning curve for us but turned out very well.

"People have enjoyed seeing everything online and while it isn't what we'd hoped for, it still allowed us to showcase all the work."

A total of five groups were led by local creatives and around 40 people of all ages were involved in the initiative.

Creative writing classes were led by author Catherine Simpson and participant Keris Russell from Kilmacolm said they were immensely enjoyable and have encouraged her.

She told the Tele: "I was in Kilmacolm Library when someone mentioned to me about going along.

"The classes were excellent, I really enjoyed going along.

"Since taking the class, I've been pursuing my own writing projects."

All of the projects were centred around Scotland's year of 'Coasts and Waters'.

As well as Catherine's writing classes, there were art sessions by local artists Martyn MacKenzie and Kate Allan, songwriting workshops led by local musician Yvonne Lyon and a comic-writing class for young people run by local artist Paul Bristow of Magic Torch Comics.

Well-known local artist Annie McKay also got involved and held 'Au-some Art' sessions for those on the autistic spectrum and their carers, using the jokes and stories of legendary local comedian, Chic Murray, as inspiration.

Annie said: "Everyone could interpret the theme how they wished and we ended up with a broad array of work.

"We had young girls really come out their shell during the sessions and those attending would offer commentary on each other's work.

"It's great they can all see their hard work online."

It is hoped that the free groups will recommence in local libraries face-to-face when public health restrictions permit.

Jim Clocherty, Inverclyde Council’s convener of education and communities, said: "Libraries are much more than just books, they are focal points within our towns and villages for the arts and this project illustrates that."