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Musings News Project Updates

Year in Reflection

What has The Stove achieved over the last year?

2022 was an exciting year for us here at The Stove. From developing new projects, expanding and delivering ongoing ones and growing opportunities for creatives in the region, we’re immensely proud of the team, and so thankful for the continued support of our members, customers, communities and partners, all of whom have played a part in the story of The Stove.

Looking back at all the fantastic things the Stove team have accomplished from April 22’ to March 23’, we asked our team to reflect on their highlights of the year:

Saying Hello and Goodbye

From April 2022 onwards, we had a year of providing opportunities at the Stove. During this time, we awarded the total value of £237 537 of contracts to people, 56% of which were under 25 and 86% were local.

We said goodbye to two members of staff this year who have left to grow and complete projects and career goals of their own, Edith and Beth. We said hello to five members of new staff over the course of the year. This year we were fortunate to work with a brilliant new team of Creative Spacers; Alice, Emma and Morgan, and we said hello to two new members of our comms team; WWDN Content Creator Malcolm, and Marketing Assistant Erin. Last year we also welcomed our community events producers, who have been supporting Open Hoose; Leanne & Mia. You can learn more about our team via our The Stove Team page. Our Production lead, Sal Cuddihy, shared the following thoughts about our producers;

“Its’ been an absolute pleasure having Leanne and Mia join our team this year to pilot a Creative Event Producer program, they both have done some amazing things this year, working with a wide range of communities to deliver events. Now with Meg as our newest edition to the production family, I’m super proud of them all!”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead) on our Community Event Producers

22/23 Projects at The Stove

Open Hoose

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together.

The projects that have been nurtured through our Open Hoose programme this year have been; Doughlicious, Free Improvisation, Queer Club, The Hoose, WRITE!, Climate Kitchen, Nith Life, Doongamers and Repair Shop.

Our Community Events Producers shared the following about their involvement with Open Hoose: 

“My Highlight of last year was watching community groups grow through our Open Hoose program in numbers and ambitions throughout the year.”

Leanne Bradwick (Community Events Producer)

Working on Open Hoose events makes you realise what’s possible when you empower the community to take a lead in local programming. The possibilities are endless and the impact this has had on individuals and the wider community has been invaluable.

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces & Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Open Hoose HERE.

High Street Multiverse

High Street Multiverse is a digital, public art project run by the Stove Network, supported by Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited. This project saw different QR codes being stationed at different points on Dumfries High Street with different content to access when scanned.

You can find out more about High Street Multiverse here.

Brave New Words

Brave New Words continued throughout 2022, before coming to a bittersweet ending. Brave New Words was the Stove’s monthly open mic night for writers, artists, musicians and songwriters to share words spoken or sung to an audience in the heart of the town centre. 

“Brave New Words – I cried, I laughed, I contemplated and I was inspired!'”

Lindsey Smith (Finance & Operations Manager)

You can read about Brave New Words HERE.

It sadly saw its last hurrah but keep an eye out on our programme to see any future developments

WWDN & kNOw One Place

2022 was a big year for WWDN – our creative placemaking network. WWDN supports partnerships between artists and community organisations across Dumfries & Galloway, co-creating with local communities to develop new projects, local plans, training, and enterprise. 

Kathryn Wheeler, our WWDN Project Lead shared the following about the previous year.

“Last year has been one full of changes, as most are in both the areas of community and cultural working. The focus of my work has grown more and more towards the development the What We Do Now project, working with the team here, and the community organisations involved, to shape a network that can support creative projects to emerge from communities across the region with the aim of starting new and inspiring things in those places. A highlight for me was September, when we were able to stage Scotland’s first ever Creative Placemaking forum, welcoming artists, community groups, policy-makers, funders, to share their ideas on the value of this work and the impact it could have for our communities if properly supported. For me it really highlighted how our small corner of the world is punching way above its weight.”

Katherine Wheeler (Partnerships & Project Development)

Malcolm Struthers our WWDN Content Creator shared the following thoughts about their involvement with WWDN last year,

“It has been a pleasure to help share the story of What We Do Now, and how it has grown and developed over the past year. In particular to help showcase the variety of activities that have taken place across the region, in the communities that are part of this ground-breaking initiative.

Malcolm Struthers (WWDN Content Creator)

KNOONE Place took place in Dumfries in September 2022 and was an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on how communities can use creativity to lead the development of their places. 

You can read KNOONE Place HERE, and you can visit the WWDN website HERE.


A highlight in our calendar every year, Nithraid returned with a splash in in 2022. Nithriad Festival celebrates and explores Dumfries’ long relationship with its river and its importance to people and the communities it connects in the past, present and future.

Each year we hold a River Race to celebrate our heritage and connection to the Nith. The 2022 race was saturated in sunshine and saw lots of people venture along the Nith.

Production Lead Sal shared the following about last years race;

“Now part of the fixtures for coastal rowing and canoing we had over 40 different vessels competing on the river Nith, that and the weather being in our favour for a change, saw the river the busiest it has ever been with competitors and was incredible to see.”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead)

You can read more about Nithraid here, and follow the Nithraid Instagram account here.

Public Art

2022 was also a big year for Public Arts. Public Art activity at the Stove supports core programming with additional activities exploring temporary or permanent uses in public space, as well as offering support to external projects such as the fountain project. From the Progressive Seagull Alliance (yet to be trademarked but watch this space), to the beginning of the Fountain Restoration project, a wealth a public art projects have been carried out across the year. 

Reel to Real Cinema delivered monthly screenings of cinematic gems. From documentary to artists made shorts, independent to international film. We aim to bring people together to share food, film and discussion. Katie, our public art lead shared the following about Reel to Real, 

“In August we hosted a special screening of Long Live My Happy Head with the filmmakers, Gordon Shaw and friends. Gordon left a truly inspirational mark on all of us and I feel privileged to have been able to host the space. And just last month, we hosted a screening of [BREATHE] from Orchestras Live in the Dock Park bandstand, which felt like a such a good opportunity to experience film together in an unexpected setting.”

Katie Anderson (Public Art Lead)

Conversing Building exhibitions in the café this year have included work from Access Art, Holywood Primary School and HMP Dumfries in collaboration with Alice Myers. 

Wild Goose Festival

The Wild Goose Festival returned, bigger and better as ever. The week-long festival weaves art, culture, and nature together through a series of activities from interactive storytelling, nature walks, conversations to performances and creative workshops for all the family. 

“Wild Goose Festival welcomed 3000 visitors across 35 events at multiple venues throughout Dumfries and Galloway. The festival is co-designed and delivered in partnership with over 20 local and regional organisations, and is a platform to explore nature, creativity and place through celebrating the inspirational migration of 6 species of geese into D&G each year.”

Graham Rooney (General Manager & WGF Project Lead)

“My standout moment of last year was the successful launch of the Wild Goose Festival website. It was months of planning, collaboration, geese, and hard work. I’m very proud of what we achieved.”

Robbie Henderson (IT Coordinator)

Solway to Svalbard, an immersive, multi-artform response to the spring migration or barnacle geese launched in 2022. Created by composer Stuart Macphearson, filmmaker Emma Dove and sound recordist Pete Smith, this unique piece of theatre brought together original music with cinematic visuals, evocative soundscapes, and live storytelling.

You can visit the Wild Goose Festival here.


The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) partnered with Dandelion, to create the Unexpected Garden at Burns House in Stranraer. Led locally by, Emerging Creative Producer, Bethany Piggott who worked with both the partners and community to deliver the project.

Stove Orchestrator Matt Baker shared the following thoughts about what was happening in Stranraer last year,

“The Stove project that gave me the shivers this year was the Harvest Festival in the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer, it had all the classic ingredients to transform a place into something exciting and gathering people from all walks of life to come together and celebrate their community and their love of their town.”

Matt Baker (Orchestrator)

Read more about Dandelion here.

Creative Spaces

Fuelled by experimentation and play, Creative Spaces is predominantly about working collaboratively to engage, inspire, provoke and provide both experiences and opportunities for young people in Dumfries & Galloway. 

Creative Spacer Producer Mia shared the following about the 22/23 Creative Spaces achievments: 

“If there’s one thing this years Creative Spaces team did with bells on, it was engagement. From Dundee to Stranraer, Wester Hailes to Caerlaverock, the team have engaged with a plethora of community groups, organisations, charities and people in order to build a larger picture of what the creative industries looks like in not only D&G but the whole of Scotland and to inspire wins from other places here in Dumfries. The associates have engaged with young people from across the region championing the creative industries whilst also engaging with our board and membership to inform proactive change internally from the perspective of young creatives.”

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces and Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Creative Spaces HERE

It’s true that ‘the people make the place’, particularly when talking about the team here at The Stove. Working with such a talented and dedicated team is a joy, and I cant wait to see what we achieve together over 2023.

Kevin Stewart (Head of Communication & Engagement)

Looking forward…

You can find out more about each of our ongoing projects here, and you can look at the the work we have completed over previous years in our archive here.

We have events at the Stove all year round! You can check out our current event programme here.

Musings News

Talking with Rachel E. Millar & Hana Lindsay from Bungo Sign Co.

We chatted to 2/3s of Bungo Sign Co. about all things Signwriting!

On Tuesday the 14th of March, Rachel and Hana travelled down to Dumfries from Glasgow to host a special guest-artist-led workshop for Dumfries Women’s Signwriting Squad.

Rachel and Hana are signwriters based in Glasgow, and are part of Bungo Sign Co., a collective of sign painters based in Glasgow South Side.

Before their workshop, we asked them both some questions about signwriting, their inspiration and advice for those who are just starting their journey with the practice.

Watch the Full Interview Here:

Follow Rachel & Hana:

You can find Rachel’s website HERE.

You can find Hana’s website HERE.

Musings News

Film Review: Queen of Glory by Nana Mensah

By Erin Aitchison

Queen of Glory, dir. by Nana Mensah (Bohemia Media, 2021)

This month, Reel to Real Cinema returned with Queen of Glory (dir. By Nana Mensah), in recognition of International Women’s Day. This feature-length film; written, directed, and starring Mensah, follows Sarah Obeng, a cancer-curing PhD student and brilliant daughter of Ghanian immigrants who is trying to navigate life after her mother’s sudden death. Mensah manages to explore themes of maternal/paternal relationships, heritage, grief and acceptance all in a neat 79 minutes – no mean feat for her directorial debut. Being an F-Rated film, (meaning it’s created by and significantly features women), Queen of Glory is perfect viewing for this year’s IWD.

Sarah Obeng is preparing to move to Ohio with her already-married lover (Adam Leon), when she receives a phone call that her mother has died following an aneurysm. Sarah is the sole inheritor of her mother’s estate, and the new owner of her Christian bookstore ‘King of Glory’ in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx.

Sarah is left to organise both a wake and a Ghanian funeral, decide the fate of the bookstore, wait on her dad (Oberon K.A. Adjepong) who is visiting from Ghana and placate her aunties who despite her scientific success keep telling her to lose weight and have some babies. During her endless tasks Sarah develops friendships with the lone bookstore employee, tattoo clad ex-convict and talented baker Pitt (Meeko Gattuso), and the multi-generational Russian-American family who live next door.

The film opens with close-ups of vibrant, rich textiles accompanied by the sound of West-African drums. Archive footage from Ghana is interspersed throughout the film, representing Sarah’s ongoing conversation with her heritage and her journey to celebrating it. The intermittent archive videos show both an insight to Ghanian culture and the repetitive cycle of the human experience as the videos echo what is happening in Sarah’s life.

Rich with these references to heritage and a powerful overarching conversation with grief, Queen of Glory also finds itself punctuated with pockets of humour. Memorable moments of laughter were the effects of Pitt’s pot-brownies, Sarah answering the door to a flat-viewer in a risqué outfit intended for her boyfriend, and the chaos of her neighbour going in to labour as three generations of people rush to find the blasted car keys.

At the second funeral for Sarah’s mother, we revisit the same drumming sequence which opens the film. From this we gain an appreciation of Sarah’s journey and the many women (and men!) who have influenced it. Sarah adorns her natural hair and a vibrant funeral dress, marking the inevitable end to her journey as she dances and finally weeps over the loss of her mother.

Voices of aunties, neighbours, customers and mothers guide Mensah’s character through this story with a feeling of familiarity and genuine warmth. Like the bright West-African fabrics shown in the title sequence of the film, Queen of Glory feels like it is carefully woven together by the voices of women.

Queen of Glory is currently available to watch via Amazon Prime and can be rented/bought online from various streaming services.

Erin is our Marketing Assistant at The Stove but is no stranger to watching and talking about film. Erin graduated with an English and Film Studies degree in 2022, and is delighted to share her thoughts on the films shown at our monthly Reel to Real screenings. 

You can find out more about Reel to Real Cinema here.


Queer Club introduces the ‘Queer Wheel of Fortune’

Learn about the ‘Queer Wheel of Fortune’ and how it operates in the monthly Open Hoose LGBTQ+ activism group.

Image by Patrick Rooney

Queer Club is ran by, with, for and about the local LGBTQ+ community in Dumfries and Galloway. It is a safe, inclusive and friendly space that meets monthly with a whole range of fun activities to take part in, whether you are an advocate or ally, queer or questioning.

Queer Club was established as part of the Open Hoose in 2022 and within its first four months it had already set up and begun managing Dumfries Pride 2022.

Like the rainbow flag itself, Queer Club is a big ol’ clanjamfrie of activism, creativity and entertainment from Queeraoke competitions, powerpoint roulettes, banner making and skills-swaps. Each event is different from the last, and in a new development for the group the activity at each Queer Club session is now decided by the awesome and almighty power of the ‘Queer Wheel of Fortune’!

The Queer Wheel of Fortune

How does it work?

Each month a special guest is invited to spin the Queer Wheel (Queel?) of Fortune, whichever activity the wheel lands on will dictate what the activity will be the next round.

The different activities that make up the ‘Queer Wheel of Fortune’ are as follows:


Karaoke and lip sync challenges.

Talent Show

It’s time to shine! Whether you’re a side splitting dance Goddess, guitar virtuoso, DJ extraordinaire or simply have a weird story to tell, the talent show is the perfect opportunity to show off a

Book Club

As a collective, we will decide on a book/article or short story to read through the month for dicussion. Whichever book is pitched will make up the Queer Library of the Ewart!

What’s the News?

So, what’s gan oan in the world today? A discussion group to talk about everything new in the Queer Community.

PowerPoint Roulette

PowerPoint Roulette is an improv game where you give a presentation from a slide deck you’ve never seen. Presenters are nominated by the group.

Game Play

In this game, a series of volunteers will each give a PowerPoint presentation containing slides they have never seen, in front of a live audience. For each presentation:

  • The presenter is not allowed to see the slides before presenting.
  • The presenter must deliver each slide in succession without skipping any slides.
  • The presentation ends when all slides have been presented, or after six minute (whichever comes first).

When the presentation is over, the next player is invited to present a new unseen slide deck. Once all players have presented, it’s time to judge the round.

Skill Swap

If the roulette wheel lands on the ‘Skill’ section QC participants are invited to host a workshop/talk/discussion or any other activity to share with the group. It’s that easy!

Queer Crafts

Queerbrodiery, Zine Making, T-shirt printing, up-cycling, whatever takes over fancy!


Simples. Let’s watch a film!


At each Queer Club a member is tasked with providing a ‘Mystery’ activity for the group to do. If the pointer lands on ‘Mystery’ the nominated person will announce their activity for the group’s vote.

Learn more about Queer Club:

If you would like to attend the next session of Queer Club, visit the event page here.

As decided by the ‘Queer Wheel of Fortune’, the activity for the March ’23 edition of the group is Queeraoke!

Are you inspired by this Open Hoose group? Want to learn more about Open Hoose and find out how you can start or develop a project for the community? Check out our Open Hoose page for more information.

Musings News Project Updates


The Open Hoose project that lets your imagination guide your hand.

Unsure what WRITE! is about? Author and organiser, Karl Drinkwater, responds to ten questions about his practice and the monthly creative writing workshop.

What is WRITE! all about?

Specific time set aside to be creative in a short and inspirational burst, surrounded by friends.

Which authors inspire you and your practice?

Rather than individual authors, it tends to be individual books which have some wonderful element that is worth studying to see how the writer achieved their effects. So I might be inspired by the style of The Road (McCarthy), or the scope of The Descent (Long), or the storytelling of The Shining (King), or the characterisation in Jane Eyre (Brontë).

What motivated you to start the group?

When I went on residential writing courses I learnt a lot, but it was often the sessions when we wrote silently to prompts that stuck with me or led to trying out new styles and ideas. I wanted to come up with a format focussing specifically on that feeling. 

How effective do you think writing can be as a form of expression?

It allows you to explore ideas, to be different people, to create something beautiful that may inspire others. To hold our lives up to the great magnifying glass and see them for what they are.

Can you tell us of a time that you were recently inspired to write creatively?

To be honest, as a full-time author, I tend to have my projects scheduled up to a year in advance. For me, the inspiration comes from setting out a plot full of conflict/drama, which has enough detail to provide guidance, but not too much to take away the fun of discovery as I fall through the page and write. 

What is your advice for overcoming writer’s block?

Planning. Without a structure, writer’s block will come and knock.

Where is your favourite place to visit locally to inspire creativity for writing?

I like writing and editing in a pub. The requirement is that it is warm, friendly, and does not have a distracting TV. So normally that would be The Dougie, Coach & Horses, Riverside Tap, or the snug in The Globe.

What do you see for the future of WRITE!

Well, a lot of that depends on The Stove! How can we reach more people? Can it spread across the whole county? (Some people travel a big distance to attend!) Could we run repeat sessions at a different day and time so more people have a chance to join in? I’d like to look at opportunities for publishing creative work from Dumfries & Galloway, open to all residents, not just those attending WRITE! (though obviously the latter would be a key audience for submissions!) Plus I have been working on ideas for a non-fiction book about the craft of writing, and some of the material I prepare for sessions could be my inspiration to get on with it!

Just for fun – what has been your favourite writing prompt shared during WRITE! And how did attendees respond to it?

Ah, there have been so many! I love seeing how the same prompt leads to totally different interpretations. Also, the Titles session (titles of books, stories, newspaper articles etc) was fun. We drew titles from a hat and used them as prompts. Some had been provided by attendees, and it was revealing to see where people’s imaginations went!

WRITE! is the creative workshop at The Stove that gives you the space to guide your imagination and transform it into writing.

Hosted by multi-genre author and editor Karl Drinkwater, WRITE! is designed to allow you to play with words and construct short or longer pieces of work, whichever you desire, and it is open to all abilities!

If you would like to attend the next WRITE! session, click here.

To learn more about Karl, and to visit his website, click here.

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together. From climate cafes to bread clubs, jam nights and creative writing groups, Open Hoose offers an eclectic mix of different activities for everyone to take part in. Find out more about groups like this one on our Open Hoose page, here.

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