Categories
Blueprint100 Musings

Trying to keep to 'creativity as usual' during lockdown

[vc_row type=”in_container” equal_height=”yes” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I was invited by the Blueprint100 team at the beginning of the year to run the Tuesday night Open Studio sessions. Blueprint has always been supportive of new ideas and giving young artists opportunities to try things out so they were happy for me to bring something new to the table. This was a series of talks about ‘Buildings that housed vibrant artist communities’. Of course The Stove is a building that houses a vibrant artist community but I wanted to explore with the Blueprint100 members, similar vibrant communities from history and from around the world, to see what we could learn from them and be inspired by. So we did just that.

Open Studio Model Making Workshop
Open Studio Model Making Workshop with Thomas Logan

However in March just as I was about to hold the third talk and Open Studio, dun dun dun…we all know what happened next, Scotland went into lockdown and it was no longer possible to continue the sessions. So being creative and innovative folk, we decided to continue online (after all it was the new craze to go online!). Along with Katharine Wheeler of The Stove Curatorial Team and Stove IT and website whiz, Robbie Henderson, we created Online Rooms on the Blueprint100 website to offer members a place to go to stay involved, inspired and entertained.
I came up with four different rooms: talks, opportunities, creative pastimes and a members’ gallery. It felt really exciting to be able to continue what I’d started for Open Studio, but in a new format. It also provided an opportunity to add new sections to the website that would be really beneficial to members on top of doing the talks. I contacted the Blueprint members and asked them if they would like to exhibit their work in the members’ gallery and had a great response. It has always excited me how much young creative talent there is in Dumfries and Galloway, so to be able to help them to promote their work and show others a taste of the wonderful folk that come along to Blueprint felt great.

Online Rooms Promotional Graphic
A Promotional Graphic for Online Rooms which illustrates the layout of the main page

At the start of lockdown when I was setting up Online Rooms, I also found a lot of great resources on the creative websites that I follow on how to survive as an artist during lockdown. These resources included lists of remote job opportunities, funding options and general ways of keeping inspired and entertained. This was something that I thought would be really helpful for Blueprint Members so included it on Online Rooms.
For the talks on Online Rooms I shied away from doing live videos and went for pre-recorded. This not only took off the pressure for myself but gave everyone at home the option to pop on to the website and watch it whenever they liked. The talks that I did were about the Chelsea Hotel in New York, Outsider Artists, Artist Collectives and a Viewers Choice talk. So they were similarly about vibrant artist communities. I’m a big fan of watching documentaries so I tend to delve in to art interests in that way in my spare time, but doing these talks made me watch more of them, more often and do more reading too which was really enjoyable. I get so inspired and motivated by hearing about other artists and creative communities and I hope Blueprint100 members do too.
I’d definitely recommend making time every so often to look for some YouTube videos about your favourite creative interests, as it can lead you down new paths and find out new things about the art world that you never knew. I always felt motivated and inspired after doing the research, so I would suggest it as a great remedy to fixing creative blocks!
Overall I hope that the talks and resources on Online Rooms have helped Blueprint100 members to stay motivated, inspired and enthusiastic about creativity during lockdown.
This post was written by Community Artist & Blueprint100 Member, Kirsty Turpie.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
Blueprint100 Musings

Trying to keep to ‘creativity as usual’ during lockdown

Trying to keep to ‘creativity as usual’ during lockdown

I was invited by the Blueprint100 team at the beginning of the year to run the Tuesday night Open Studio sessions. Blueprint has always been supportive of new ideas and giving young artists opportunities to try things out so they were happy for me to bring something new to the table. This was a series of talks about ‘Buildings that housed vibrant artist communities’. Of course The Stove is a building that houses a vibrant artist community but I wanted to explore with the Blueprint100 members, similar vibrant communities from history and from around the world, to see what we could learn from them and be inspired by. So we did just that.

Open Studio Model Making Workshop with Thomas Logan

However in March just as I was about to hold the third talk and Open Studio, dun dun dun…we all know what happened next, Scotland went into lockdown and it was no longer possible to continue the sessions. So being creative and innovative folk, we decided to continue online (after all it was the new craze to go online!). Along with Katharine Wheeler of The Stove Curatorial Team and Stove IT and website whiz, Robbie Henderson, we created Online Rooms on the Blueprint100 website to offer members a place to go to stay involved, inspired and entertained.

I came up with four different rooms: talks, opportunities, creative pastimes and a members’ gallery. It felt really exciting to be able to continue what I’d started for Open Studio, but in a new format. It also provided an opportunity to add new sections to the website that would be really beneficial to members on top of doing the talks. I contacted the Blueprint members and asked them if they would like to exhibit their work in the members’ gallery and had a great response. It has always excited me how much young creative talent there is in Dumfries and Galloway, so to be able to help them to promote their work and show others a taste of the wonderful folk that come along to Blueprint felt great.

Online Rooms Promotional Graphic
A Promotional Graphic for Online Rooms which illustrates the layout of the main page

At the start of lockdown when I was setting up Online Rooms, I also found a lot of great resources on the creative websites that I follow on how to survive as an artist during lockdown. These resources included lists of remote job opportunities, funding options and general ways of keeping inspired and entertained. This was something that I thought would be really helpful for Blueprint Members so included it on Online Rooms.

For the talks on Online Rooms I shied away from doing live videos and went for pre-recorded. This not only took off the pressure for myself but gave everyone at home the option to pop on to the website and watch it whenever they liked. The talks that I did were about the Chelsea Hotel in New York, Outsider Artists, Artist Collectives and a Viewers Choice talk. So they were similarly about vibrant artist communities. I’m a big fan of watching documentaries so I tend to delve in to art interests in that way in my spare time, but doing these talks made me watch more of them, more often and do more reading too which was really enjoyable. I get so inspired and motivated by hearing about other artists and creative communities and I hope Blueprint100 members do too.

I’d definitely recommend making time every so often to look for some YouTube videos about your favourite creative interests, as it can lead you down new paths and find out new things about the art world that you never knew. I always felt motivated and inspired after doing the research, so I would suggest it as a great remedy to fixing creative blocks!

Overall I hope that the talks and resources on Online Rooms have helped Blueprint100 members to stay motivated, inspired and enthusiastic about creativity during lockdown.

This post was written by Community Artist & Blueprint100 Member, Kirsty Turpie

Categories
Musings Projects

homegrown – a conclusion and a new beginning


Homegrown was an immediate response to the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown that saw the world close it’s doors and retreat into our homes. The Stove’s doors too were closed and months of programming, preparations for upcoming events and projects were put on hold.
In the final few days before the government enforced the lockdown, we looked for four themes to guide our direction and settled on solidarity, open heartedness, insight and perseverance1. The title for the project looked to create a platform to share the creativity grown from homes across the region, and further afield – and to help create a space to allow these creative reflections to flourish.

We re-grouped, via the now all-too-familiar ZOOM for our first meeting online, and started to investigate how The Stove could respond. The Stove has always been a future-facing and responsive organisation, but we made the decision to be watchful and listen to those around us, supporting the efforts of the council and other agencies, who took the lead on the immediate challenges facing many of our communities.
As the rug was pulled from under our feet, it quickly showed that the rug was all that was holding some of us up; the floor’s foundations were not equally distributed. Of our 600+ members at the Stove, we estimated that as many as half will be self-employed or freelancers, and the COVID-19 shutdown in March saw many people’s incomes wiped out overnight as events and regular contracts were cancelled. The homegrown project initially looked to draw on our resources to share a series of micro-commissions to support Stove members facing financial difficulties. This theme further developed into Atlas Pandemica – for (more detail about this project visit here).

Hope for Food Origin Awareness. For Helen Walsh’s Feathers of Hope series as part of her micro commission

Each week, we invited a creative response from one of our members (growing to two per week as interest developed) to one of our four key themes, and over the weeks we were able to share the work of 14 different artists from a variety of backgrounds and creative approaches. The aim of these micro-commissions was light touch; the proposals were focused on sharing perspectives and experiences of the sudden changes to our world, and giving each artist the time and support to develop something creative where many were finding the daily routine too overwhelming to allow for any reflection or creative focus. Each commission also gave us the opportunity to meet and find out more about our membership, some of whom were new to our team, or familiar faces that we were able to build new relationships with, and to share this with our audiences and wider network digitally.
Homegrown also developed a series of ‘creative challenges’ that were open to anyone to take part in, and responses were received from a wide collection of participants. We set out not to provide distraction, or to add to the noise as organisations scrabbled to move their content online, but to create a space for reflective creative process – opening up space for ideas sharing, playful interaction and exchange. Some of our challenges were focused around key questions – What memories come in times of silence? Where are the secret spaces in your life now? Others invited an exploration of a particular technique or process – photography, writing or printmaking. All of the responses were then added to our online gallery and shared digitally as part of our homegrown conversation.

Memory Jar created by Andy Brooke

Homegrown was conceived of as a starting point, not to provide answers but to open the door to include as many voices in our conversations – towards a new folklore that documented the response from Dumfries and our wider Stove membership in a time of social isolation. Each conversation, collaboration that we hosted opened for us new ways of understanding and interpreting the world around us. As we were each confined to our personal spaces we were able to reach out and make the connections with other people, who helped to drive and direct the project’s course.
Everything is significant, and we have learned a lot over the past three months. As the lockdown moves into a new phase and the town gradually begins to re-open it’s doors, homegrown comes to a close – but we hope to take forward many of the conversations, ideas and approaches that we have learned during this time through listening and being open to the directions of others. As we look forward, we bring the influences of homegrown with us: our new project Atlas Pandemica looks to draw together a team of artists in response to the changes we’ve been facing in Dumfries and Galloway, and Elsewhere a town centre project will look to draw on and further develop some of the responses shared during the homegrown micro commissions. We hope to bring much of the homegrown content from the realm of the digital, back into the public sphere, the physical and the personal, and will be looking at ways to safely do this as restrictions continue to ease.

Doorways. A collective artwork by The Lockdown Collective, JoAnne, John and Luke McKay

The homegrown webpages will continue to live on the Stove website as a record of all of the work that we have shared and grown in our homes, together. To help you navigate the content, you can find:

  • Creative Challenges and responses
  • Artist Talks given by each of the homegrown micro-commissions

Special thanks to everyone that contributed to homegrown.
1Three of these themes, Insight, Open heartedness and perseverance, were originally part of Matt Baker’s three virtues artwork for Inverness.

Poetry by Daniel Gillespie as part of his micro commission.
Categories
Musings News

Culture and Creativity in the National Recovery Plan

On Monday the National Advisory Group on Economic Recovery published their report with recommendations for priority actions. The report recognised that a) the creative sector had been particularly badly hit by COVID, and b) that culture and creativity had a big part to play in our nation’s recovery. Below is specific section on culture and creativity in the report:

While the Government is able to float ideas for action, these can only become a reality through collaboration with the arts and creative sector. For example, the idea of a National Arts Force needs all of us in culture to come together and work with other bodies to shape a plan that can make this happen…only we the creative practitioners on the ground know how this could work…we must take our place at the discussion table for the sake of everyone who works in our sector and for society at large.
The National Arts Force idea is something that The Stove and others have put forward –  see here for further detail and background on the idea. Please do get in touch if you want to help make this idea a reality.
You can find the full report from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery – here
 

Categories
Musings News Research

Creativity and Community as Part of the National Recovery

The diagram below is The Stove’s submission to The Advisory Group for Economic Recovery for Scotland. It is just the first germ of an idea and we are sharing it now in the hope of generating further discussion with others in the Creative and Community sectors.

Download a full-size version of the diagram here

The premise is simple – our Embers report has clearly shown the pivotal role played by creative practitioners and small creative organisations to initiate and maintain momentum in placemaking projects. These may start with cultural projects, but quickly develop into new social enterprises, asset-based and environmental initiatives. In short – do some cultural pump-priming in a community setting and the payback in terms of community resilience, economic development and people’s wellbeing is incredible.
In the current climate we have thousands of creative practitioners with little prospect of working in the short and medium term. We have communities who have experienced working together for mutual benefit during lockdown and we have many brilliant resources (theatres, sports centres etc) that are lying temporarily idle.
What if we were to pay out of work people in the Creative and Community sectors a Basic Income to work in their local communities to start new projects (or build on things started in lockdown) – these could be cultural projects like choirs, writers groups…but they could also be environmental projects or new social enterprises. Our skill set is to ‘make shit happen’ we are producers, innovators and entrepreneurs! If this National Task Force was to get things started then the national agencies and funders could come in behind and help take things to the next level and, before you know it you have communities making their places, economies and health better.
It may sound mad, but something not so very different was successful in the US as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1934 and again in 1940 in Britain with the Council for Encouragement of Arts and Music which saw a force of musicians staring choirs and orchestras all over the country during wartime.
That’s as far as we’ve got til now – whaddyfink? Let us know and help us shape the idea if you think it has legs..

Categories
Musings

What is the responsibility of art in times of crisis?

Insight
By Martin O’Neill, Stove Curatorial Team and Head of Programming

What is the responsibility of art in times of crisis? 

Things look very different now. 

My neighbor has washed the same tea towel, every two days, for the last three weeks. It’s Hokusai’s wave. 

I didn’t really want to notice this. I never really thought about my neighbor’s washing line, let alone her tea towel. Aside from the fact it seems a little bit much to wash it every two days, it’s in my life now and it’s past the point of familiarity. Like the traffic lights at the foot of the road I crossed every day, the ‘Clearance Sale’ vinyl on a shop on the High Street, the two grizzly dogs on the Mill Green; it’s ubiquitous. Maybe Irene has been washing her tea towel, hanging it on the washing line every two days for seventeen years. Or maybe it’s just her little routine in the lockdown. The tea towel waves heroically in the breeze, and I’ll get on with other things, cooking, reading, watching the television. And before the sun dips, it’s gone. 

Similarly, a friend of mine, on his daily walk observed new paths, termed ‘desire lines’, a consequence of footsteps eroding the earth, un-foiling a path across parks, fields, forest floors or gardens. These lines leading home have multiplied over these three weeks of lockdown. 

These observations of the mundane might represent a reacquainting, or revelation of the environments we thought we knew. Our neighbors, the paths leading home, the way time passes. Crisis, in this case, has given us pause and somehow focused our lives entirely on the in-between. But for all its meditative qualities, it is scored with a sadness as yet not understood. 

This reflection comes at the worst possible costs, not only of the very real threat of our health and our lives, but also the alienation of our lives from one another. This new perspective is weighted with an anxiety, needle-pointed in the reality of the weekly shop, or a visit to the chemists. We move in a heightened awareness of one another, yet for many, this is a privilege un-bestowed to key-workers, from the NHS to the supermarket cashier, their roles akin now to soldiers in warfare. Their responsibilities, particularly of those whose work has often been derogatively termed ‘un-skilled’ by governments, represent the fragility of socio-economic systems as well as the hypocrisy in the demonization of labor in our country.

The role of art, then through this, seems nearly un-definable. More often than not, definitions of its role in this time appear and disappear like mirages in a desert, and mostly its definitions return to the safety of ‘entertainment’, or the spectacle. The live-streamed play, the virtual tour…

Artists and creative freelancers are hit with a financial insecurity on a scale unseen since the financial crash of 2008, so for the most part, artists are now seeking to consolidate and revise their work so that it might ‘prove its worth’, an unfortunate consequence of the precariousness of our professions. Others are overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to focus on new work, finish their novels, work on their next collection, underpinned by capitalistic notions of productivity, that we have somehow been given ‘free-time’, a sentiment in ignorance of the psychological ramifications of a national health pandemic.

Many may be thinking that art is facing a crisis in meaning. It’s understandable, given the anxieties of this time. Yet art, throughout history, has demonstrated its capacity to survive. Whether in its ambiguity as a social movement, its ties to the political landscape, its power in advocacy, its role in activism and its power to reflect our lives and emotions. At the root of this are its defining characteristics, that of survival and its role as a healer. 

The Stove’s driving force has been, throughout the years, the untapped power of conversation and creativity through the act of gathering, building and celebrating communities within a town ripe for acknowledgement, and change. We now are seeking to find ourselves once again, and perhaps through this, re-define our role as community artists, producers, and community members, as a team. Our power is in being embedded in the life of our town, yet our responsibilities are often taken for granted, both in government, local and national as well as internally, with such focuses on events to bring together the branches of our community, to one space, becoming familiar in the day-to-day motion of the organisation. The challenge now then is, without the physical space, how do we connect?

In Home Grown, these questions are at the forefront of our activity. Beneath it, values of solidarity, open-heartedness, insight and perseverance seek to illustrate the present as well as symbolize our hopes for the future. Similarly, these values represent our work up till this point. For now, they must hold their ground. 

Beneath the surface of all this, is a search for belonging. The Stove represents the questions of where art and creativity belong aside from the corridors of mansions, the museum or the free-market. In this search, art is not defined by product or spectacle but in essence its role in the make-up of Who We Are, not only as people, but as a community, threaded together by a common care for one another. This art then seeks to celebrate that which makes us human, in a place, and what that then means, and how it defines us.

Who we will be when we return, and who will be with us, we cannot know yet. Our community and our town must take time to heal, and this art will flow through these times with the community in conversation, in activity and in reflection to weave some new future, knowing its responsibility, to then ask of those in power where their responsibility lies. 

For now, we must acknowledge these moments in-between, the desire lines, the tea towel in the breeze, the slow flow of time, for whatever they may not mean to us now, they will be the backbone of some future as yet unwritten. 

Categories
Musings Projects

Creative Repositioning for the New Normal

What makes a place? And what role does creativity have in times of crisis?
Katharine Wheeler of the Stove Curatorial Team and Lead Artist/Researcher for our Embers project, reflects on the role of ‘creative place-making’ in wake of the national lockdown.

As people pull together to face the collective challenges and strain at this time and without the usual noise of other ‘news’ it is the kindness, ingenuity and resilience of people that are centre stage. We can see more than ever the generosity and value local people, groups and organisations invest in supporting their communities.

Small businesses re-organise themselves to take food to our most vulnerable (often without payment), neighbours leave groceries on the doorsteps of those they barely know, people pledge all manner of support and money to those they have never met, we share creative ideas to keep us busy and explore ways of connecting when we cannot physically meet.

The Stove has always been many things for many people – a café, an events space, a space to gather and take part in activity, to have conversations about our place, to challenge ideas and perceptions, to grow projects and activity together. All of this expressed as seriously playful partnership with our community to support and grow a resilient, progressive and creative Dumfries and Galloway. 

We strive to be for, and of, our community and have been asking ourselves “How do we reposition our work at this time?” as a creative community-led organisation that uses creative practice at the heart of what it does.

We have taken time to think and are exploring two directions:

  • in our program – as we explore new ways to grow activity that engages local people in reflection and co-development of work and activity 
  • for our wider creative community – to reconnect and support this community at this time.

Through this we hope to support the building of a collective awareness and narrative of the ‘new normal’, one which helps the transition into the next stage of this new journey we are all on together. Our intention has not changed, this is an ethos and approach of Creative Placemaking. We have spent the last 10 months digging down into the grassroots practice of Creative Placemaking across Dumfries and Galloway through our Embers consultation talking to groups and organisations embedded in their communities about their work. Creative Placemaking is a collaborative practice that uses creative activity to connect and come together with other individuals, groups and organisations and respond to local needs with innovative solutions that focus on social wellbeing and inclusion in our communities.

Times such as this highlight the struggle in places that have had their local resource and ability to respond stripped in favour of centralised service provision. Our new reality is shining a spotlight on the value of our sometimes less recognised and smaller parts, our key workers, our local services and businesses, our sole traders and freelance workers, our community spaces and social relationships. We are seeing the value of our collective creativity to shape and adjust systems and support appropriate to our local need.

Where will we go from here? At the Stove we will continue to advocate for the value of our smaller community-focused parts and use activity to test and develop ways of working that invest and support the creativity and innovation around us to grow our local resilience.

A few related things to and look out for…

Embers report – to go live in a few weeks this report explores some of the fantastic work in our communities and proposes more considered understanding and support for Creative Placemaking work for the South of Scotland.

Don’t Forget the Self-Employed – talking about our responsibility to the region’s cultural, creative and community sectors. Of our 600+ members, we estimate that as many as half will be self-employed or freelancers.

Culture and Creative Industries consultation – add your voice to the role the new South of Scotland Agency can take in supporting our creative sector.

Homegrown – addressing this new normal by proposing four values that will frame our work: Insight, Perseverance, Open-heartedness & Solidarity.

Third Sector D&G Resilience Map – a page created in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council that displays information from local community groups and organisations offering support or looking for support in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Categories
Musings

Thank you Blueprint100!

Our current Blueprint100 team, Jordan Chisholm, Kyna Hodges, Claire Bell and Blossom McCuaig are all coming up to the end of their year with us and we’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the team for all of their contributions this past year. It has been an incredible 12 months working with Jordan, Claire, Blossom and Kyna and we’re excited to see what the future holds for these talented individuals.

The current team have been reflecting on their time with the Stove and are sharing their highlights, their triumphs and what they have learned on their year-long journey with us.

Jordan Chisholm

After a 4 week university placement at The Stove, Jordan joined the Blueprint100 team in August 2018 for an initial 6 months and continued for a further year with the new Curatorial Team. Jordan’s practice stems from both an interest in care and a performance art background and is deeply rooted in having conversations.

“My time with blueprint100 and The Stove Network has been incredible. It has been testing, eye-opening, uncomfortable, safe, uplifting and warm. I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, to try and fail and try again and get some things right whilst learning how to respond to the things that don’t go how you once wanted them to.

Some highlights, for me, were being given the lead artist role for the Nithraid 2019 Salty Coo Parade; this project allowed me the opportunity to pay many young artists to contribute to this day (some from my own uni class, which felt liberating!)”

Read Jordan’s ‘Looking Forward’ blog post by clicking here.

Claire Bell

Claire joined the Blueprint team last year after hosting a series of Life Drawing classes as part of the Blueprint100 regular programme of activity. Claire’s creative practice is grounded in drawing and mark making, as she observes, captures and plays with these to uncover the hidden patterns and connections within.

“A big part of my experience, for me, has been the huge amount of varied learning experiences I have had; through getting involved with a great variety of events and activity. There was Nithraid, in which I assisted the running of workshops such as flag making, as well as making costumes for the procession, which I also took part in through the town centre. Other events I’ve contributed in both big and small ways, are: Drawing Queer, Behavin? Festival, Mental Health Week and our monthly ‘Open Studio’. Although brilliantly varied, this work was very different to previous experience I had had. I felt at times that my overall ‘journey’ lacked focus, however, I ultimately found such value in not thinking too much about ‘is this exactly what I want to be doing’ but just doing it anyway. I encountered so many interesting moments along the way and learned much more than I ever would have by staying with what I already knew.”

Read Claire’s ‘Looking Forward’ blog post by clicking here.

Categories
Musings Projects

My Time with Creative Futures

Blog Post from Community Artist and Stovie Kirsty Turpie

Growing up in the small town of Lockerbie, I was surrounded by a great sense of community. Some of my favourite memories include going along to coffee mornings in the town hall with friendly faces serving tea and cakes, doing arts and crafs at Brownies and playing board games at the youth club. All of these experiences gave me a sense of belonging and connectedness. When I began volunteering and working with Creative Futures in Lochside in Lincluden I quickly began to feel this sense of community once again and it is this feeling that made the experience of working for the project so exciting and unforgettable. Over the two and half years that I worked there, the project became increasingly integral to providing opportunities and events to allow the coming together of the communities in North West Dumfries. I was proud to be a part of it and to be the one that was now helping to provide the type of events and activities that I once loved as a kid.

One of my highlights event wise was the two day Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge in 2018 as it got young and old involved and allowed the public to come and share in the experience at the fnale meal on the Saturday night. The challenge was launched at Summerhill Community Centre in June by Scotland’s national chef and TV personality Gary MacLean. Teams of six were urged to sign up for cooking challenges over the summer with the fnal two day challenge including a master class by Gary MacLean. It took some time to motivate the community to sign up to a team but the perseverance was worth it as so much fun was had at the challenge.

On the Friday night teams were invited to Lochside Community Centre for the canapé challenge. There was a table of ingredients and a list of canapés they could make. Local MP Emma Harper joined the line up of judges and all of the teams got in the spirit and tried their hardest to impress with creative and tasty canapés.

First was the marketing challenge where they had to come up with a community event that they would hold with an imaginary £300, second was the cooking challenge with chef Gary MacLean and third was the hospitality challenge where they had to dress and set a table. Whilst the teams were doing their challenges I held activities to keep the children busy which included making chocolate crispy cakes, designing fruit faces and colouring in. There was a real buzz around the community centre all day and into the night with the community meal and challenge awards ceremony.

I was asked to co-host the awards ceremony with Gary and we even had a red carpet! The competitors of the day and the winning team The Rhino Chef’s were very chuffed with their achievements. The Rhino Chef’s won £300 to fund their community idea from the marketing challenge. Fast forward a year later and this idea became a reality with North West’s Got Talent going ahead at Lincluden Community Centre… another fantastic night!

The Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge is an example of many of the things that I enjoyed about working for Creative Futures… providing events across many diferent venues to get as many groups involved as possible, seeing community members find new skills and be proud of their efforts, having to take on more roles than just artist, running workshops in a large variety of themes, learning a lot about event organising and running and seeing community groups receive funding to do their thing. All of this and I’ve not even touched on the creative side of things…and there was defnitely a lot of that over the two and a half years.

My frst two creative remits were to work with the community to create new artworks for the Lincluden rhino statue, and to collaboratively design and build a commemorative statue for Lochside Primary School…not the smallest of tasks! It took over a year to see both of them to fruition and the journeys for both of consultation, research, development, collaborative work and creation were immensely enjoyable. And what was the material / technique that I fell in love with over this period…if you’ve seen or heard about the projects then you’ll know that it’s MOSAIC! Yes, all of those tiny pieces of shiny colour perfect for surviving outdoors and an activity that all ages can get involved in.

For the Lincluden Rhino statue artwork creation I held mosaic workshops at Lochside Gala, Nithraid, Lincluden Community Centre and worked with the Primary 3 class at Lincluden Primary school. To compliment the rainforest themed mosaics created I invited pupils at Lincluden Primary School to come up with rainforest designs for the metal work. This led to the fnal stage of the upgrade…the two day spray paint workshop at the rhino statue. We had the Creative Futures sound system along with us and had 30 children join in over the two days which created lots of hype about seeing the completed renovation. Local roofer Gary Barsch helped to install the mosaics and in May last year we held the launch party. Likewise with the installation of the Lochside Primary Commemoration statue local builder Malcom Campbell helped by laying the concrete base for the structure. It was great to work with local people on all levels to make the art projects happen.

After the completion of the rhino statue artwork and the primary school statue I wondered what would be next, but there wasn’t much time to think because there are so many active organisations in Lochside and Lincluden with plenty of ideas and it was coming in to summer… a busy time for providing events for young people and families. First stop was the YMCA who had just moved in to the former Lochside Primary School and had a newly found huge space to decorate. The building was our oyster! I took on the role of helping the young people decorate their reception area with a day to night themed mural.

In the summer holidays mosaics returned as I ran a workshop for the young people to create an under the sea mosaic for their art room. Through providing these workshops I built up a good relationship with the young people and felt proud to see them trying new creative skills and take ownership of their spaces. The summer continued with the creation of a bottle cap mural for LIFT’s NANA’s Park community garden space, and the Creative Futures summer theme Fashion & Festival leading up to the Day of the Region Fashion festival.

The creativity continued in to Autumn with October Holidays Art in the Park and painting a mural on the Pop Eyes Park electrical sub station with designs and help from the Lincluden Rainbows and Brownies. It was fantastic to be able to work on such a variety of projects and not only allow community members to join in on art projects but actually get them involved in brightening up the spaces in their area to make them more exciting and enjoyable places to be!

My fnal task at Creative Futures whilst packing up my stuff was packing up the Creative Futures room to be moved over to the projects new room at the YMCA centre in Lochside. It felt like an appropriate end to be seeing them off on to their new chapter as I was going off on mine. It was an amazing few years of creativity, community and fun… and I’m excited to see what all of the projects, local people and young people that I worked alongside get up to next.

Kirsty Turpie March 2020

Categories
Musings News Projects

homegrown – an introduction

With the out-break of COVID-19, we face a shared reality that will live on in the minds of this and further generations in pictures, stories, songs and memories. We are faced with questions we never foresaw answering.

In this time of social distancing, The Stove’s field of operation for community, creativity, care and gathering within spaces both shared and public is now radically altered, without objection. Isolation, distance and confinement are the new normal.

The priorities have shifted. The Stove has always functioned in collaboration; collaboration with communities, with artists, with other arts and community organisations, with policy-makers and as a team. In addressing this new normal we propose four values that will frame our work:

Insight
Perseverance
Open-heartedness
& Solidarity

Over the coming weeks, we invite you to explore with us these values through a series of creative challenges, conversation, commissions and activities that can be done in isolation and through connecting with one another via the internet and in so doing, build and maintain resilience in the present, as well as build hope and strategies of change for the future.

We choose to acknowledge and ask the right questions, host the conversations and create the new spaces where these can happen, aside from the café, pub, High Street or studio.
As humanity has always done, we will attempt to record and archive these projects, and together with our community, inspire a new folklore so that we might retain and remember this time, however it may be, for the posterity of generations’ hereafter.

Homegrown is exactly what the Stove is all about, and what it continues to be. Responsive, locally initiated, developed and owned.

As always, we are open to every idea that comes through our inbox. So please do get in touch if you would like to contribute, in any form, place or style you would like.