The Stove set up temporary residence one afternoon last week in the newly regenerated and renovated Dock Park as part of the ongoing festivities celebrating the park’s clean face. In anticipation of this year’s Nithraid, we took to the river – send massed flotillas of paper boats downstream and out to the Solway.
The boats were christened after famous links to the Park’s history including: The Great Pedalo (Kirpatrick MacMillan – inventor of the bicycle and honoured by the footbridge) The Dragon Slayer (.. St Michael’s Bridge at the top of the park) The Tweed Rose (Rosefield Tweed Mills on the opposite bank)
The two week long youth festival coinciding with the school holidays was envisioned to shape how the park as a public space could be used by the good folk of Dumfries, and the re-instate the park within the psyche or awareness of the town, as opposed to a periphery space.
promenade (ˌprɒməˈnɑːd) — n 1. chiefly ( Brit ) a public walk, esp at a seaside resort 2. a leisurely walk, esp one in a public place for pleasure or display 3. ( US ), ( Canadian ) a ball or formal dance at a high school or college 4. a marchlike step in dancing 5. a marching sequence in a square or country dance
[C16: from French, from promener to lead out for a walk, from Late Latin prōmināre to drive (cattle) along, from pro- 1 + mināre to drive, probably from minārī to threaten]
On walking around the park, The Drying Ground particularly caught my interest – as Glasgow City Council looks to impose new rules on the use of their public parks, with Drying Grounds clearly outlawed:
” 11.1 No one shall in any park, except with the prior written consent of the Director:
(f) hang linen or other material, beat, shake, sweep, brush or cleanse any carpet, rug, mat or other article. “
The full list of proposed banned activities includes organised sports, gatherings of more than 18 people, walking more than 4 dogs and outdoor education – a full and interesting article on the A Thousand Flowers blog or to read the rules for yourself head here
The importance on non-commercial public spaces, and their benefit to town and city life not just in terms of regenerating the surrounding areas but also in creating spaces (and therefore towns) where people want to be is discussed by Animal Behaviourist turned City Planner for NYC, Amanda Burden in her recent TED talk (available here)
As groups like the Incredible Edible‘s continue to promote and grow a greener vision for the town, how can the parks play an active role in this? How do these public spaces become once again instilled as part of the townscapes’ sense of self? As 100 High Street remains closed for the time being, do keep an eye out for the Stove in exile throughout the town over the next few months, and if this great weather continues, we can maybe reconvene our meetings in the park..
For those of you who have been asking ‘what is The Stove’ – here is our latest attempt to define it… this is a work in progress and we are committed to inclusivity in all things… please do chuck your threepenneth in…
The Stove is a project to add creativity to the structures and thinking that will shape a future we all will share.
The project is run by a collective of artists and other active citizens in Dumfries and Galloway. The Stove creates inclusive public art events to engage the citizens of Dumfries in constructive and practical action in the town. The Stove uses a three storey building in the town centre of Dumfries as an HQ for the project and will operate 100 High Street as a social enterprise. The Stove has a membership of over 100 people ranging from café-owners and wild-food chefs to video artists and DJs.
We see the arts not as something solely for an ‘arts audience’, but rather, as a vital contribution to society on all fronts. The Stove is a vehicle for practical partnerships with people and organisations working in Health, Education, Tourism, Regeneration and Environment.
The creative arts are one of the top ten economic sectors in Dumfries and Galloway – The Stove is an expression of confidence, professionalism and ambition for that sector – placed physically and practically at the heart of the evolving future of our region.
Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about The Stove as an opportunity to put our money where our mouths are in thinking about the society we live in. We’ve been inspired by the New Economics Foundation to think about the way we work, and crucially, invest in services and people locally.
Money, like other aspects of life, has become controlled by distant organisations who, as the recent economic turmoil has demonstrated, do not necessarily have our best interests at heart. As the New Economics Foundation put it, our economies have become like ‘leaky buckets’, money that should be staying and circulating locally being sucked out to distant corporations and shareholders. This all adds to our vulnerability in times of increasing uncertainty, rather than reducing it.
Local enterprises are more likely to employ local people, provide services to improve the local quality of life, spend money locally and so circulate wealth in the community, promote community cohesion and, by reducing transportation of goods from across communities, are likely to have a smaller environmental footprint.’
Lets use the resources of The Stove to give the maximum effect in our local economy and society – if you’ve got ideas about ways The Stove could be effective in assisting regeneration locally then please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been a hectic week or so at Stove – and it is with sadness that we wave goodbye to DMC for another year. It’s been insightful, exciting, wild, engaging and fantastic. Having landed at a music conference with very little music background, there was an initial concern of being the cuckoo of the flock however, he Dumfries Music Conference kicked off last Wednesday, with a showing of LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits, a beautifully shot, poignant film about the band’s last ever gig in Madison Square Gardens. I decided to avoid googling the band beforehand, and went in with no knowledge of them or their music – and left with a new love.
This buzz carried into Thursday – with a seminar programme, relocated back into the familiarness of the Stove. It kicked off with Born to be Wide‘s Getting Started in Music – which included a panel of industry experts who gave inspiring but honest insight into the contemporary music scene in Scotland. Grassroots music Popcop blog was represented, as was Bar Bloc and the Wickerman, as well as Keren McKean of We Make Music Work – and covered everything from managers, getting live gigs, to pluggers, promoting and marketing your music. This was followed by Gary Aitkinson who spoke about the story of Document Records, and it’s in-depth archive and back catalogue of musical gems.
Up to pace. Friday saw the Stove taken over by aspiring song writers who landed to join Music Plus in learning from Robert Shields of Finding Albert, who worked from a music composition base, and gave some inspiration into his early career within the music industry and Findlay Napier of Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers – a self proclaimed folkie who had all participants writing a song from scratch in less than 30 minutes… Say cheese, say please sounds set to become a chart topping success!
Quick change over and the Stove transformed to Dumfries’s newest intimate live music venue. Chris from Bar Bloc mentioned during the seminar night that remote and unusual venues are often the most atmospheric, and we couldn’t have imagined how great it would be when first Honeyblood, at the end of their UK tour and just about to head for the States rocked up and gave the Stove it’s first live set. Followed up by the mind-blowing Hector Bizerk, Glasgow based hip hop group, who really blew Dumfries out of the water. Local lads Barstow Bats led the Stove into the night, and the whole place glowed.
The DMC team didn’t disappoint on day four, and another quick costume change for the Stove saw it re-invent itself as a retail outlet hosting Rebecca Vasmant’s record fair, featuring DJ sets and sellers both local and down from the big city. Congratulations go out to the DMC team for a fantastic programme, thanks to everyone who was involved and thanks to everyone who came to our events – we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did! To see more of the photographs taken at DMC head to our flickr site here
Brilliant to see about 40 intrepid Stove folk braving the dark winter evening to come to the Stove Members Gathering/Catch up/Planning; Thing Meeting last Tuesday night.
Old friends and new friends came and it was particularly good to see people who had helped with Back2Back and taken part in the Nithraid. The Stove is all about reaching out and working beyond the arts….in fact there was chat about whether what we are doing is really ‘art’ anyway- and does that matter.
One of the ideas that seemed to catch peoples interest and agreement was that the Stove should be about inspiring people to take charge of their own immediate environment. Too often people think that they are ‘not allowed’ to do things – we hope that our events have an ethos of ‘just do it’ about them and that others will be inspired to follow suit. We believe that people working form the grassroots with independent and locally relevant initiatives is the way that Dumfries with prosper in the future. (Sermon over!)
Linda followed on with a slide show of images for the Nithraid and it was great that other people brought their own pictures to share too – even if the one of Will and Matt hugging in pink T Shirts might not see the light of day again anytime soon! More pictures from Nithraid – here
Nithraid really seems to have caught people’s imagination – there was a really strong contingent of folk who had taken part and in the race and a collective determination to do it again next year. Mark Zygadlo is leading on this for The Stove and currently working very hard to raise the necessary money for next years event.
Lots of people ask ‘how do I get involved with The Stove?’ – the Nithraid is a great example: The Curatorial Team raised some money to do a Stove project as part of the Environmental Art Festival…..we had a first think about what might be possible and relevant to both our larger programme and that of the Festival. We then put out an invite to Stove Members which said ‘Stove is going to do something for EAFS – it will be connected to the River Nith in some way…if you are interested to be part of this then come along on this day and we’ll all brainstorm ideas together’. About 10 people came to that original meeting…the idea of Nithraid was born and Mark Zygadlo and Stan Bonnar became part of the project team that made the Nithraid happen.
Along the way other folk were pulled in by word-of-mouth and adverts etc eg Roy Kerr from Nith Navigation and all the folk who took part in the race. Then closer to the date we put out another call for people to be part of the crew for the day and we were thrilled that about 12 people came and were part of making the whole thing happen on the day (from being part of the scratch band, to catering, to stewarding, to releasing the banners into the water, to helping get the boats out of the water).
Matt then showed some slides from the Environmental Art Festival Scotland – The Stove was part of the team (with Spring Fling and Wide-Open) that thought up and produced the festival. One of the great things about EAFS was the way it provided opportunities for so many people in D+G to take part and the way different people worked together – just about everyone in the room had been part of EAFS in some way – great feeling!!
Colin talked introduced Dumfries Music Conference with a video from last years event and a run down of this years programme that was starting the day after this Gathering.
Matt then rounded off the presentations with a quick run through of The Stoves 3 year programming plan. In synopsis this breaks down into:
2014 – intensive focus on Dumfries with TheStove@TheStove (including residency opportunities for Stove members)
2015 – First part of year finishing TheStove@TheStove before focussing on the second Environmental Art Festival Scotland for September/October that year
2016 – Year of Architecture in Scotland….The Stove hopes to be a main partner in the festival in SouthWest Scotland and pick up themes form work in Dumfries and across the region through EAFS……imagining a sustainable future for D+G.
Another big push for The Stove recently has been in the way we are using different media in our work. Katie Anderson is now building on the great foundation made by Mike Nicholson on Social Media for The Stove. Our Facebook page has never been busier and Katie has become surgically attached to her IPad it seems.
And if you’re not yet a member and fancy being part of The Stove mission to change the world then send an email to email@example.com and Sheila will send you a membership form. Membership is free and gives you no obligations whatsoever….you’ll just get emails and updates from The Stove and the offer of being involved in projects, commission opportunities and members rates on room hires etc.
Those who follow the work of Mike Inglis will be very intrigued and excited to see the image below. Mike’s work is all about layers of exposure and his relationship to public space is an often troubled one for him. There is an aspect of his work that involves the 3D assembly of very private shrine works. Mike has often talked about ways that he could bring this side of his work into the public domain alongside his paste-ups and graphic work… maybe Dumfries might be about to see something very significant in Scottish art history…
One of Scotland’s leading public/street artists. Mike has been researching ‘outsiders’ and ‘custodians’ in Dumfries since May 2012. He has worked with community groups and historical information ranging from the execution of nine women accused of witchcraft in 1659 to the groundbreaking theraputic community at the former Crichton Hospital.
Mike’s work around Dumfries will include two ‘window shrines’ and six ‘paste-upstreet shrines’ – these will begin to appear in the town centre on November 4th and will be visible for as long as the good folk of Dumfropolis choose to leave them unmolested.
My childhood was spent in Galloway. Its hills, rivers, tidal flats formed my understanding and love of the natural world. The Biblical stories I learnt before I could read mixed freely with the tales and legends learnt about the land around me to the point that Galilee and Galloway were one and the same. Was it the Boy David who confronted Goliath at Loch Trool or was it Robert the Bruce who faced the Philistines on the banks of the Jordan? When I learnt about Saint Ninian landing at the Isle of Whithorn bringing Christianity to our heathen forefathers, I assumed he was one of the Apostles and that he had just sailed across that Sea of Galilee. As for Tam o’Shanter, was he Old or New Testament?
At the age of 11 my family moved away. But that heady brew of wild landscape, Biblical stories, poetry, a sense that one was put on earth to do the right thing and the temptations of the flesh were always at hand has infiltrated and informed everything that I have done or attempted to do since. And then of course there was the work ethic.
And on the subject of work, everything I have done since the late 1990s has been framed within the context of The Penkiln Burn. This in one sense is an old fashioned publishing house and in another an online brand as artwork. The Penkiln Burn is also a small river that rises in the Galloway Hills and flows down into the River Cree at Minnigaff. It was on the banks of the Penkiln Burn that many of my boyhood adventures took place, a place that still fires my imagination to this day.
I am aware that if had spent my teenage years in Galloway my sense of it would be totally different, and that I would have probably viewed it as a cultural backwater that I could not wait to escape. But that was not the case.
As for Dumfries, that was another country altogether.
Bill Drummond, 3 October 2012.
A truly memorable film of Parton to Kirkcowan by way of Newtown Stewart aboard a steam train way back in 1965 – accopanied but the track Madruga Eterna by The KLF.