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Musings News Project Updates

Beyond Doubt Into Love

What would Dumfries say?

Sometimes things start small.

Thank you Lauren!!

Whilst working with the Young Stove to imagine what The Stove could be, this popped up. The Stove would really have quite a lot to say. What about the rest of the town? If the old buildings in Dumfries could speak, what would they say?

If the old brig would speak, what stories would it tell?

Would it shout loud, or whisper quietly to a neighbour? We thought it best to ask around.

Responses flooding in, and orange speech bubbles floating around town (what would Rabbie say, sat with his view of the High Street?), what places have the loudest voices? Voices started to come thick and fast, helped along by Herald Moxie and a band of merry Young Stovies.

Want to see more speech bubbles? A selection are available here

What speech bubbles could we stand up for? What voices could we wear?

There comes a time when it is good to call in an expert. Our expert on hand, was talented and patient printmaker and artist Sarah Keast. An island of calm amongst apparent chaos, the Stove was a ship sailing in a wild afternoon of frenzied t-shirt printing.

And still we printed on. We ran out of t-shirts, did a quick t-shirt run, printed more t-shirts and ran out of ink before the afternoon was through, printing nearly 140 t-shirts in four hours. The Young Stove showed themselves to be an unstoppable tide of creative energy.

Beyond Doubt Into Love may well be a t-shirt for a moment in time. One things for sure, they are a rare and precious commodity, created by our community, and if anyone has a large mens in the neon pink – we’ve had a request for one.

This is less of an end, and more of a beginning – keep an eye out for speech bubbles: once you start noticing them, they tend to pop up all over the place…



Members Profile: Melissa Gunn

Following on from Tea with Moxie, our  herald, she has become interested in the many different kinds of members in The Stove Network. She’s been catching up with and speaking to various members, and we’ll be introducing one every Friday over the next wee while. You can get in touch with Moxie on The Stove Herald facebook page here or by email.

This week is the turn of Melissa Gunn!

Melissa is a full-time Business Lecturer, part-time radio presenter and all-round promoter of local music. She has lived in Dumfries all of her life and presents the Thursday Night Showcase on community radio station Alive 107.3, a show which is entirely dedicated to promoting Dumfries & Galloway musicians and gigs. She also runs Small Town Sounds, a small project which uses local music to raise money for local charities. Melissa also did a radio show as part of last weekends Radio DMC.

What drew you to the Stove?

I love the whole concept of The Stove because it has the potential to bring together such a wide range of art ‘genres’. I am hugely passionate about local music and was pleased to see that The Stove classified music as an ‘art’. I wanted to be a part of The Stove to try to raise the profile of our local music scene.

Share your hope and dreams for The Stove?

I hope it will be all inclusive, and help put Dumfries & Galloway on the map when it comes to creativity.

Which film changed your life?

The Crow – I was totally obsessed by it as a teenager.

 What keeps you in and around Dumfries?

My job, my hobbies, my friends, my family, the fresh air and the beautiful scenery.

What makes you feel alive?

Listening to amazing music with fantastic company and great conversation. And Berocca.


Where were you when you saw your favourite sunset?

Eden Festival.

What’s your dream for the arts in D&G?

I want it to be more accessible, and for there to be something that appeals to everyone.

What’s your favourite piece/event that you’ve produced?

I co-organised the Small Town Sounds CD launch (as well as the making of the CD) back in October 2013. Small Town Sounds is a charity CD which features local musicians and every penny made goes to local charities. To date it has raised around £1700.


Stove Member Profile: Denise Zygadlo

Following on from Tea with Moxie, our  herald, she has become interested in the many different kinds of members in The Stove Network. She’s been catching up with and speaking to various members, and we’ll be introducing one every Friday over the next wee while. Interested in chatting to Moxie? You can get in touch with her on The Stove Herald facebook page here or by email.

This week Moxie has been speaking to Denise Zygadlo.

Denise has lived in Dumfries since 1980, moving from London with her husband to start a cabinet making business and bring up 4 children. As the children grew she gradually returned to her artwork, beginning with running art classes and community projects, making quilts and wall-hangings (e.g. 1996 Thornhill quilt hanging in Thomas Tosh.)

Having studied printed textiles at Winchester art school, her interest is in printing and cloth, and she has developed her own practice, focussing on drawing and looking at the relationship between the human body and cloth, through the use of the photocopied image and transfer-printing onto fabric.

Her work has been exhibited in Glasgow, Edinburgh and in ‘Affordable Art’ shows around the country and abroad and she has had 2 solo shows in The Mill on the Fleet and Gracefield Arts Centre.

Portrait of an Artist – a short film by Jo Hodges and Roger Lever

Did your life take an unexpected direction?

Suddenly finding myself saying “further education in art” when asked about career moves at school. Finding myself moving to Scotland. Finding out I was pregnant with our forth child and singing with him 23 years later on his first album. Becoming part of the psychology dept in Dumfries. Being a mushroom on wheels with Oceanallover. And lots more

What is your greatest fear?

Driving on an 8 lane freeway in America

Tell us about your creative process.

Looking at inspiring images, talking to inspiring people. Making notes; drawing.

What is your earliest memory?

Dressing up box.

What drew you to The Stove?

The first meeting at Parton – The energy, vision and determination of the core group and the excitement of it all happening in Dumfries.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.49.27

Share your hope and dreams for The Stove?

That it becomes a place that everyone feels comfortable visiting and enjoying.

What keeps you in and around Dumfries?

Family; friends; landscape; art opportunities and support.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?


What’s been the most exciting part of the Stove Process for you?

Seeing the activities they create and put on outside in the centre of town where everyone can get involved.

What makes you feel alive?


What songs do you carry closest to your heart?

Ella Fitzgerald songs and stuff by my son Rudi and ‘Loving you’ by Minnie Ripperton.


What’s your role within The Stove organisation?

Ordinary member that likes to get involved.

How would you like to be remembered?


What’s the best piece of advice you have ever got?

Let go.

What’s your dream for the arts in D&G?

That it continues to grow in all directions as it seems to be doing now.


Stove Member Profile: Mark Lyken

Following on from Tea with Moxie, our  herald, she has become interested in the many different kinds of members in The Stove Network. She’s been catching up with and speaking to various members, and we’ll be introducing one every Friday over the next wee while. Interested in chatting to Moxie? You can get in touch with her on The Stove Herald facebook page here or by email.

First up this week, is Mark Lyken!

Mark Lyken (1973) is an audio & visual artist. He creates musical and sound pieces, film, paintings and installations. His recent residency work has explored relationships to place and the complex interactions between nature, industry and culture. He is particularly interested in revealing the musicality of the environment and regularly collaborates with other artists and specialists from different research fields. In 2014 Lyken and Emma Dove established the Glasgow based Art label, ‘Soft Error’. Mark is also a Cryptic Associate Artist.

Tell us about your creative process.

It’s a process of gathering, layering, refining and removing, I think that holds true for if I’m painting, making music or working in film. Our work over the last three years has had high levels of public engagement which is a new development, particularly for me as my default mode is hermit!

Working collaboratively with Emma over the last few years has been a real eye opener, we make work together that neither of us would make apart. It’s quite an odd thing and one that we are wary of questioning too much in case it stops working!  You each have a voice but combined it’s something more than the sum of its parts.

What drew you to The Stove?

I genuinely believe they are making a real difference and I think the way they present themselves is pitch perfect. The residency seemed like an excellent way to continue a line of work we are interested in ie: relationships to place but in a completely new location that was culturally and geographically unfamiliar to us. We knew that we would have to move down to D&G lock, stock as we would have struggled to get under the skin of the place if we hadn’t been living down here.  6 months is a very short time to be in a place and any work created in that time can only ever be a snapshot but I imagine this work will be part of a larger whole. We’re not in any hurry to rush away.

What time of the day do you like most?

Between 7 and 9am. I find that a super productive time. If we are filming, that “Golden Hour” before Sunset can be very magical.

Which films changed your life?

Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Blade Runner and Clerks. For widely different reasons but all made me want to become involved in film making in some way.


What keeps you in and around Dumfries?

Well at the moment, Emma and I are completing a 6 month residency with the Stove, we had assumed we would head back to Glasgow afterwards but are becoming gradually seduced by the region.

What songs do you carry closest to your heart?

It’s an album and it’s called “Raining” by Rolf Julius. Rolf was a sound and visual artist from Berlin, who unfortunately passed away in 2011.

It’s a very simple record, I think it may have been part of an installation originally. It’s nothing more than field recordings of rain with some very subtle electronics. His concept of “Small Music” and the overall aesthetic really speaks to me. Another one is a series of pieces called “The Disintegration Loops” by William Basinski. It’s one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard.

The story is Basinski set out to digitise old magnetic tape loops he had. He loaded up the loops, set them playing and hit record, gradually over the course of 40 or 50 minutes the tape literally disintegrated as it repeatedly passed the play head, the sound becomes gradually more distorted and has bigger and bigger gaps until there is nothing left to play at all. It’s hypnotic.

Actually you should link to one of them here

Who, from throughout history, would you like to sit and have a good chat with?

Andrei Tarkovsky, although I would need a translator as my Russian is pretty bad.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I came runner up in a Star Wars short story writing competition in 1982 and received a letter of congratulations from C3PO and a Chief Chirpa figure.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever got?

Show don’t tell.

What’s your role within The Stove organisation?

At the moment I’m an artist in residence along with Emma Dove. Beyond that I hope to rent a studio space within the new Stove building and use that as a base for upcoming projects. I find The Stove a really exciting organisation and imagine the relationship will continue.

Tell us your passion:

Modular Synthesisers.

Read more about Mark and Emma Dove’s collaborative residency project HAME, which is part of the Stove’s Open House here

Musings News

Cultivating the High Street: Artists and Town Centres

From Andrew Gordon

High streets across Britain are fundamentally changing, and Dumfries is no exception. The combined impact of the economic downturn, out of town complexes and online shopping is leading to more and more town centre closures. The effect on Dumfries is unmistakable, from the closure of national chains stores, to long established family-owned businesses, each leaving behind empty husks in what once were regarded prime locations. With their empty displays these unwanted buildings contribute to a worrying sense that the town is in perpetual decline.


However there have also been signs of different life; the Electric Theatre Workshop has turned a disused shop into a space for practicing and performing theatre, as well as the central hub for winter festival, Big Burns Supper. Although shops have struggled, cafes and restaurants are continuing to generate business, prompting a number of new openings and refurbishments. These changes remind us that high streets have historically been places to “debate and meet”, as retail-consultant Mary Portas stated in her 2011 report for the UK Government. It is her opinion that high streets must return to this role as “multifunctional, social spaces” if they are to serve any purpose in the future, commerce forming just a part of their civic service rather than dictating it.


The Stove Network shares this vision – it aims to demonstrate that rethinking the way we use the vacant buildings on the high street can have a profound and beneficial impact on the local community. By opening it’s new accessible public arts space at 100 High Street, it will be placing creativity and risk taking right at the centre of local efforts to re-imagine Dumfries as a contemporary regional capital.


The retail chains that previously occupied these spaces were concerned with telling us what we want. The Stove will instead respond to what we need, a collaborative effort between artists and others in the town to cultivate a place that will serve us as citizens rather than consumers. This means including the public in the operation of the Stove itself and the Tuesday Drop-In sessions are one example. These weekly meetings will invite one and all to discuss the Stove’s operation, and to voice their own ideas about what it should be doing more of to contribute towards the regeneration of Dumfries town centre. The Charter14 event held during last year’s Guid Nychburris festival, asked Doonhamers to put forward their own ambitions for the town’s future as part of a new “People’s Charter”, and is another example of The Stove Network’s approach.


By offering ready access to art and the tools of its creation in the very centre of the town, the Stove stands to thoroughly involve the people of Dumfries in bringing about constructive change to the place we call hame, turning an otherwise forlorn relic of times gone by into a symbol for a new future for Dumfries – one conducted on our own terms. “High streets will thrive if we re-imagine them”, Mary Portas suggests, and what better way could there be to inspire new ways of thinking about the high street than through art?

All images are of Charter14, Guid Nychburris Day Festival June 2014. All images: Colin Tennant

Musings News Project Updates

Feeding Creativity in Dumfries

From Andrew Gordon

Many have suggested simple solutions to the French Paradox, the apparent contradiction that the French can eat rich, fatty foods while maintaining a lifestyle much healthier than many their counterparts in the western world. Could it be all the red wine? Or maybe its something in their genetics? The answer, as Will Marshall explained in his introduction to the Open Jar Collective’s “Feeding Creativity” event, is likely much more complicated than that, and is a clear indication that our attitude towards food has a fundamental effect on our everyday lives. From how we socialise, to how we interact with our surrounding landscape and, importantly, how we create, Will understands that our relationship with food shapes us as individuals and as a community, capable of bringing us together and prompting what he calls “unexpected interactions” across all sorts of social and cultural boundaries. For him and the rest of the Stove team, the prospect of opening a cafe Dumfries town centre is much more than a simple business venture. On the contrary, the Stove sees its future cafe not just as a place to drink nice coffee but as lively hub that will bring the community together, be it to participate in the events or activities facilitated by the Stove network or just to enjoy good quality local produce, sourced from across the region.

The Project Cafe in Glasgow, one of the cafe’s cited by Open Jar in their exploration of Creativity and Food

o fulfil this vision, the Stove has enlisted the expertise of the Open Jar Collective, a group of Glasgow-based artists who specialise in all things food. Open Jar have been carrying out extensive research to in order formulate an operational plan and identity for the cafe, analysing similar projects undertaken by other arts organisations in the UK (Glasgow’s Project Cafe was offered as one such example) and meeting with local producers such as the Loch Arthur Farmshop.

Feeding Creativity represented another stage in this process, a 2-hour event held at 100 Midsteeple in which they invited anyone with an interest in food and creativity to have their say about what they’d like to see from a new eating spot in the town centre – and to share some tasty soup and bread in the process.

Attendees included caterers, health workers, business owners and civil servants amongst other professionals, all interested in leveraging the cafe’s prime location and the region’s ample culinary resources to enrich the town and the lives of its denizens alike. Splitting into groups, they identified problems currently ailing the town and suggested some ways these could be addressed, resulting in a sort of mission plan that might inform the functioning of the cafe in its finished form.

Chief among these was the need for a place to meet after shopping hours that isn’t a pub, giving young people a chance to get out of the family home and giving community groups somewhere amenable to convene on a regular basis. Another was the desire for a knowledge centre where townsfolk can share their passion for food, be it cooking skills, growing techniques or healthy eating advice.

The Bakery at Loch Arthur Farmshop

All in all, Open Jar were met with an enthusiastic response and left with plenty of ideas to work with, ending the night by assuring that further public consultations are in the works. With the cafe due to open in time for Guid Nychburris, the Stove is keen to get as many people excited about food’s potential to bring about positive change as they can in the coming months, ideally resulting in a space that the people of Dumfries can feel invested in and responsible for, and which gives the town centre a whole new lease of life.  If Feeding Creativity is any indication, it’s off to a great start.

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