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News

Elsewhere: First Images

Thank you to everyone who took some time to visit Elsewhere last weekend, it filled us with hope to see the town again from fresh perspectives and in new lights.

The first of our images from the weekend are now available, thanks to photographer Kirstin McEwan.

If you weren’t able to attend in person, much of the wonderful work we included as part of Elsewhere is available to view online, see a selection of links below.

Elsewhere was supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Regional Arts Fund.

Categories
Events News Opportunities

Brave New Words: What Now?

A Brave New Words update from founder and director, Martin O’Neill

This year has been quite the rollercoaster, hasn’t it?

With next year looming round the corner, we’re asking ourselves, what will it bring? Global societal change for the better? Universal basic income? A fairer and more just world? Or, judging by this year, is it all going to go a bit belly up?

Well, we hope not. But let’s ask the questions.

What Now?

Over the next couple of months we’re holding back our usual Brave New Words Friday night mash-up live-streamed extravaganzas in favour of something a little bit different. To end our year, we’re inviting creative writing submissions around the theme of ‘What Now?’ with contributions making up our first ever printed newspaper publication. We’re looking for submissions from poetry, short stories, flash fiction to text-based art from writers young and older, professional or just dabbling. Think of it like an open mic, but as a newspaper!

You can submit up to three pieces to be considered.

That said, just like our open mic, whilst every effort will be made to ensure your piece ends up in the final print we will be limited on space and can’t guarantee that everything will make it through, so do think hard on what you’re sending in.

This is a completely open submission for anyone based in Dumfries & Galloway. You don’t have to have been at a Brave New Words before, and we’re always looking for new voices to showcase.As always, we encourage you to be brave and put yourself forward.

Submission Details

If you need any more information on the publication please get in touch through our social channels or email martin@thestove.org.
Submissions should be sent to: martin@thestove.org in PDF or Word format (please don’t put your submissions in the body of the email)
Deadline: 1st December.
Get writing, & be brave.

With Love,
Brave New Words.

Categories
News Projects

Artists and Community Landowners: Meet the Artists: Coulson and Tennant

Artists and Community Landowners is a collaborative project digging down into the stories of community landownership across Scotland and the impact it has for communities. The Stove is working with Community Land Scotland and six collaborating community trusts to explore stories of “ownership” and the effect it has had for local people, their identity, decision-making and the economic and social benefits for their community.

The Stories of Radical Landownership commission is being undertaken by Coulson and Tennant. As part of the project they have been visiting community land owners throughout the country; Bridgend Farmhouse in Edinburgh, Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, North Harris Trusts and South West Mull and Iona Development Trust.

Can you briefly explain your practice?

We (Dr Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant) are an award-winning artist partnership, who develop projects through a lens-based practice, combining genres of documentary and fine art. Our work is underpinned by academic research and through visual storytelling, we create artistic, documentary and environmental work and draw inspiration from historical, creative and ecological references.

We aim to make works that spark conversations about the past, present and future of our man-made and natural world. We strive to create stories and produce work that can speak to various audiences; from local communities, international media, academia, art and cultural sectors We want to reach as many people as possible because we seek to create work that can advocate for change in the world.

How are you approaching the commission?

We believe that capturing stories of radical land ownership is important, both in terms of current social documentation, but also as a means to advocate for future practices and policy. And we think that communities should not only have rights to their land, but also the ownership of their narrative. Therefore, we wish to explore and share the story of community land ownership in Scotland through collaborative visual storytelling. For several years we have been embedding forms of co-creation into the process of visual storytelling. This way of working leverages the voices of communities and can enlighten situations in ways that could have not been otherwise anticipated.

We aim to use our skills in making multimedia stories and foresee our project building on three collaborative actions:

Document– In the context of photography and filmmaking, our work sits at the intersection of fine art and documentary and this allows our work to be used across many different media platforms. We will make multimedia material that can raise awareness and visibility of community land trusts across Scotland. Understanding the needs and expectations of various audiences, we can work with project participants to tailor the narrative and identify the various platforms where these stories can have a real impact.

Enable– We have developed methods and processes in our practices which supports others in visual storytelling, specifically, using mobile phones to document their lives. We have experience in delivering training workshops, both in-person and online. We want to collaborate with the four trusts to create visual stories which show the unique background of their journey and the impact it has had on their community.

Connect– Our practice is transdisciplinary (arts and culture, editorial and academia), and we make connections to try and increase the recognition of our work and the work of our collaborators. We see this project as part of our ongoing practice. Prior to the Stories of Radical Landownership commission being publicised, we had been researching current initiatives, including the community buyout of Langholm and Wanlockhead, and would like to explore how this project could develop into a framework for other communities.

The main aim of this project is to co-create visual stories with the communities. We hope to create a mixture of multimedia pieces, including photographic essays, short films/moving image work and audio pieces. These stories are expected to take several forms. They can be made in Gaelic and English and can vary in length from each community partnership, but also culminate in a longer documentary project. We want the communities to feel ownership of these stories and to use them to demonstrate their successes, but also the challenges they face. We also want to explore how this way of working can advocate and support future community buyout projects and have an effect in areas such as policy and land reform.

What excites you about the project?

We are excited to be working with four diverse community trusts at a very important and exciting time of Scottish land reform. The trusts that we are working with as part of this project are Bridgend Farmhouse in Edinburgh, Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, North Harris Trusts and South West Mull and Iona Development Trust.

Each trust provides a unique perspective in the bigger story of radical land ownership. We are collaborating with each to capture the journey that led them to form a trust and undertake a land asset transfer, but also to explore how the concept of ‘ownership’ effects the people of the communities. We are framing this project in an approach to building stories around the past, present and future of the trusts and community land ownership in Scotland.

There are many exciting aspects of this project, but we’ve been thrilled to meet so many interesting people from so many different backgrounds and hear from them their stories of land ownership. We’ve also been working with some young people from some of the trusts and getting to know what their aspirations for the future of their communities are.

How has the process been so far? Anything unexpected?

Currently, we have been immersing ourselves into the project by visiting the trusts and speaking to community members from each.

For example, earlier in the month we went to North Harris, a spectacular area of land located in the centre of a long chain of islands called the Western Isles off the North West coast of Scotland. Its dramatic Atlantic coastline and an incredible mountain range make this a very special place. The community purchased the land in 2003 and established the North Harris Trust to manage the estate. The estate comprises of 25,900 ha. of croft land, common grazings, and open hill ground. The Trust aims at building a stronger community and enhance its wild landscape.

We spent a week with the young people who live on, the estate as they undertook a John Muir Award during their October holidays. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know how young people perceive land ownership and what it means to them to grow up in a community trust. We were able to explore North Harris through their eyes, as they went on many hikes and kayak trips around the estate.

We also met community members who helped to establish North Harris Trust, and they took us to locations which meant a lot to them when they were young. The photo is of Callum, one of the founding members of the North Harris Trust. We started the week with a tour of all the places where he grew up whilst he told us stories of what it was like to be raised in such a remote and picturesque part of the world. The second photo is of Scarp, one of the places where Callum grew up but is now an uninhabited island.

We have also been visiting Bridgend Farmhouse several times over the past month to speak to the members about what it is like to be part of community trust in the city of Edinburgh. This is the only project partner that is situated in an urban context. We’ve been speaking to as many people as possible asking them about how they are involved in the trust, what they think is the value of having Bridgend Farmhouse as a community-owned asset and what they would like for the future of the organisation.

We’ve also been asking everyone at Bridgend what they think ‘radical land ownership’ means to them. We’ve been surprised that for many it is a simple idea that by having a place where you can go and do something that connects you with nature, physical making or building in the company of people you feel connected to. It is often reflected on in sharp contrast to many of the current values that are prevalent in contemporary society.

Has covid-19 affected your work with the community?

Everyone has been more careful in light of the global pandemic and we’ve been keeping up and abiding by the increased social distancing regulations. Fortunately, we have been spending a lot of time outdoors as part of this project. We’ve been lucky so far as most of the time that we have been collaborating with people the weather has been surprisingly good for Scottish standards.

We have also been meeting some community members on online platforms instead of face-to-face meetings. The silver lining of this approach is that we have been able to organise and meet a lot more people with a greater geographical reach than what we might have normally.

This short film, Our Island/Eilean Againn Fhèin was created by young people working with The North Harris Trust alongside Saskia and Colin as part of their project.

Categories
News Projects

Artists and Community Landowners: Meet the Artists: Virginia Hutchison

Artists and Community Landowners is a collaborative project digging down into the stories of community landownership across Scotland and the impact it has for communities. The Stove is working with Community Land Scotland and 6 collaborating Community Trusts to explore stories of “ownership” and the effect it has had for local people, their identity, decision-making and the economic and social benefits for their community.

Virginia is working directly with Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn – Galson Estate Trust – on the Isle of Lewis. As a maker with a strong conversational aspect to her work, collaborative engagement underpins Virginia’s practice.

Artist Virginia Hutchison

Can you briefly explain your practice?

Evolving around conversation my practice is broadly participatory and exists within an environment of social engagement. Shifting from work that sits within civic spaces to work within education, questions of how stimulus from works of art and architecture can affect memory and learning is central to this. Where and how we respond to works of art also affect our perceptions of ownership, the legacy of any particular artwork and the authorship of new narratives associated with it. With the processes involved in artistic production and presentation in mind what can be learned from how we engage with artistic practices? What happens when the roles of artist, object and viewer shift and how can we challenge the processes we have in place for critique and evaluation?

How are you approaching the commission?

Embarking on this commission during a global pandemic and the issues this presents in terms of how and where we communicate with each other is central to how I have chosen to approach this project. Taking the object as a point of departure for new narratives I am creating a series of cast bronze ‘talking objects’ that will become way-markers around the Galson estate – points where we might stop and reflect or navigate to another area. Embedded within the bronzed peats are QR codes – digital codes that when scanned will direct the listener to an audio archive on the Urras website. As a dynamic link the archive can develop alongside the walks and talks. As the archive grows the community will have the opportunity to site the way-markers permanently or to take them for a walk. As hand sized objects they are able travel to around the island – or mainland, contributing to other narratives around the country.

What excites you about the project?

I’m really delighted to be working with such an engaged community such as the Galson Estate and to learn first-hand how radical land ownership has helped to develop the Estate socially, culturally and economically.  Ideas of ownership are central to my own work and I’m excited to see how the project is shaped by the community.

How has the process been so far? Anything unexpected?

It has of course been challenging in terms of how we engage with each other but it has allowed the objects breathing space to develop and for us to experiment with digital archiving processes.

Has covid-19 affected your work with the community?

Expanding on my answer to question above – it is of course very hard to conduct interviews or community engagement when restrictions keep changing and when folk may live in different boroughs. Having a period in which experimentation and object production takes place is providing a buffer to this. It is also allowing the project to evolve in response to new COVID developments and allowing us to come up with solutions to community engagement.

Categories
News Projects

Artists and Community Landowners: Meet the Artists: Richard Bracken

Artists and Community Landowners: Meet the Artists

Artists and Community Landowners; is a collaborative project digging down into the stories of community landownership across Scotland and the impact it has for communities. The Stove is working with Community Land Scotland and 6 collaborating Community Trusts to explore stories of “ownership” and the effect it has had for local people, their identity, decision-making and the economic and social benefits for their community.

Richard is currently working with Abriachan Forest Trust, an environmental artist and creative educator based in Drumnadrochit, with 10 years experience of engaging with communities and collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams in Scotland and abroad.

Can you briefly explain your practice?

My work is a response to an ongoing, personal exploration of the land. I’m influenced by specific places, individual experience and wider themes that relate to how we live with the land.

My attention is usually drawn towards ecology, folklore, natural processes, time and memory.  I typically create sculpture using casting and mould-making processes. Drawing, photography and printmaking methods are also key aspects of my practice.

How are you approaching the commission?

I’ve been keen to understand the story of Abriachan Forest Trust by looking at the past, present and future of the community and it’s relationship to the land. I’m looking at the story as an ongoing journey and to identify places that relate to key stages of this journey the community is taking together.

I’m aiming to create artwork that is accessible – eg objects that can be picked up, held and taken for a walk; I believe that walking around the land plays a key role in understanding the story of AFT, so I’ve felt drawn to creating something that is portable, rather than something that exists in a fixed location.

So far I’ve been:

  • Getting to know how the trust operates and how it has developed
  • Looking through archive material that relates to the development of AFT – photographs, newsletters, forest plans and other maps.
  • Getting to know the young people and volunteers that participate in AFT’s activities – learning about the land from them by going on walks with them.
  • Talking to staff and community members about their relationships to AFT
  • Finding out which places resonate with the community by asking a series of questions.

Learning about materials I can feasibly source from AFT, plus facilities / expertise in the community that may come in useful for fabrication.

What excites you about the project?

The opportunity to contribute creatively to the conversation about land use in Scotland.

Getting to know a community and seeing how they have grasped opportunities to utilise their land in ways that benefit local people and the environment.

Exploring the parallels between young trees and young people – the growth and development of both are crucial to AFT and their long term vision.

On a personal note, having recently moved to within about 6 miles of Abriachan, the project has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to make new connections that I hope will last well beyond the lifespan of this project.

How has the process been so far? Anything unexpected?

Living so close has been a great advantage, giving me time to meet up with staff from AFT, slot into existing sessions and create new ones with relative ease.  This has allowed me to start getting to know people and allowed me to communicate to others about the project.  I feel that my thinking around the commission has benefited from this close contact, as I come to understand AFT better, letting that influence my work.

Being close-by has also meant that I can spend my own time exploring other parts of AFT.

Has covid-19 affected your work with the community?

AFT are not able to work with as many young people as they would normally, so I have had less opportunity to see this side in it’s fullness.

Some uncertainty around changes in guidelines and restrictions has meant having to be flexible in planning, or waiting until the last minute, but generally this has not been a disruption on outdoor working.

Categories
Musings News Projects

Dark Time 2020

This November is our annual Dark Time. Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll be working hard, thinking, planning and implementing some of the biggest projects we’ve ever dreamt up. It’s also a time for us to question our role, our processes, communication and vision fully so that we might step into the New Year resourced, ready and receptive to whatever it might bring.

Dark Time is a chance for the team to take a step back and reflect, to listen and plan for the year ahead. It is a significant and valuable process where we take a critical and constructive eye over everything we do, through an intensive series of conversations and workshops. We’ll discuss everything from projects and production, events and hospitality, festivals and gigs to the way we use our café, connect and work with our membership as well as explore further our role within the region, and to question, adapt and embed a vision for the organisation to share for the year coming.

2020, perhaps more so than previous years, has brought a lot into focus for us, as it has for many. From the delivery of our events, our digital programme and our engagement with new audiences and collaborators, as well our commitment to creating and sustaining grassroots activity which narrows the gaps (or gulfs) between art, creativity, government and community.

It’s been a tough year all round. But it stands as testament to the commitment we feel to what we do. We’ve had to re-imagine our entire 2020 programme for an online audience as well as manage projects and festivals throughout the country, alongside shaping the conversations on artists and communities at a national level. Rather than limiting our focus for the year coming, we believe this time to be invaluable in helping to shape new projects out-with Dumfries, and to re-fresh our ideas in shaping a fairer future for our region, through the sharing of art, ideas and gifts from the voices all too often unheard in our communities.

2020 if nothing else, has proven what is possible at a distance, such as working from home and the ability to connect with a broader spectrum of society than we ever thought possible. But it has deprived us all of the experiences which colour our lives, connect us with one another and help us to understand, navigate and continue in a world spinning further out of sight.  But we’re far from pessimistic. Instead, we’ll think of this year as fallowed ground for something so much bolder, brighter and connected than we ever have been before.

Our recent membership survey has given us a lot to talk about. From our engagement with the community, the way we communicate, how diverse we are and how focused we ought to become in our vision. Our Dark Time this year is framed on the ideas, suggestions and feedback we have received from our members and wider community over this year, and we cannot thank you enough in helping to shape the Stove with us over this time. Whether it’s through a coffee in the café, filling out the membership survey, engaging in our programme of digital events or dropping us a line to check-in. Every conversation is meaningful, especially those of dissent.

The work here now is to recognise where we are and what we now need to do as an organisation so as to connect, inspire and grow new visions for our community in the wake of an international pandemic. A vision fully shared, that is inclusive, welcoming and principled. This may mean many things, and it may take strange and exciting new shapes, but as always and even more so, they are guided by the values shaped by, with and for the communities we belong to and serve.


Our Dark Time is framed around three conversations, and we’ll be sharing our progress with you through our social media and website as we go.

How do we define ourselves and what are the systems in place to let others participate and create with us.

How connected are we, and to whom?

We’re a growing organisation, how do we keep being connected to what’s happening around us?

Understanding our role as a learning organisation and how we engage with formal and informal education.

Working with our neighbors, partners and creative businesses throughout the region in further building a sustainable and connected network.

We want everyone to feel included, so do we do that? From working with the Deaf community to making the very building we operate in accessible to everyone, we’re making plans to engage with as many people as we can, sharing and learning as we go.

How we engage, from social media, blogs, and our website. We believe we’re an approachable organisation, so how do we build on this?

Engaging our membership. We want to create the spaces for our memberships to input into the running of the organisation as well as create the spaces needed to network with one another.

We want to centre community and creativity at the heart of the region’s future. Who else can we work with to do this?

In the wake of the pandemic, what can we learn from this and how do we create new work which resonates and belongs to our communities locally?

As a learning organisation, we’re building the skills and confidence of those we engage, and those we collaborate with. How do we expand on this? And can we offer more platforms, roles and opportunities for our community to shine?

Who owns what? What does ownership mean for our community, and how do we ensure everyone is involved? What does the shift from private to community-owned mean, and can what we learn, in order to change things at a higher level?

As always, if you have any thoughts that might help us in our direction, our (digital) door is always open. Drop us a message on our social media, ask to speak with someone at the café, or send an email along.

Stay up to date by following the Stove Network on:

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Categories
Blueprint100 Musings News

Speeding Backwards: An update from Kyna Hodges 

As part of the ‘Speeding Backwards’ project there was to be a woman’s build weekend. The weekend was to help plan and construct a bicycle trailer that will house a dark room and equipment for taking photographs using the wet plate collodion process (for more information click here). The build up to the weekend was nerve racking, still the questions of ‘Can we? Can’t we?’ floating aground with the restrictions seeming to change daily.  

But the day finally arrived, food planned and workshop laid out! On the first day Emily Tough, Beck Tucker and Myself all got to know each other and then went into the workshop to get to know the tools. One of the most empowering things as a woman learning construction can be understanding the use of tools and what they can do. It gives you an idea of what is possible and how. We applied the tools to the task of creating a box that we designed and began to execute. I took portraits of the interns using the wet plate collodian process that the trailer is destined to house.  On the second day our female builder Alice Francis arrived and we set to work looking at how to construct the trailer, it was so inspiring being around all these different creative and problem solving minds. When having meals together it helped to cement us as a group and come at a problem with the same energy. After lunch we set about looking into the interns individual projects that they had been asked to prepare. The weekend ended on a high of everyone getting a start and insight into their own projects and the mass giveaway of tools!  

The next phases of the project are to complete the build and begin to contact primary schools about seeing them in the spring. This is when the other intern Faye McKellar will be joining to deliver educational workshops and create a slow moving wonderment down the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway.  

  

Kyna Hodges 

 

Email: kynahodges@hotmail.co.uk 

Website: https://kyna-hodges.com 

 

Categories
News

Speeding Backwards: Kyna Hodges

by Kyna Hodges

As part of the ‘Speeding Backwards’ project there was to be a woman’s build weekend. The weekend was to help plan and construct a bicycle trailer that will house a dark room and equipment for taking photographs using the wet plate collodion process (you can learn more about this here) The build up to the weekend was nerve racking, still the questions of ‘Can we? Can’t we?’ floating aground with the restrictions seeming to change daily.  

But the day finally arrived, food planned and workshop laid out! On the first day Emily Tough, Beck Tucker and Myself all got to know each other and then went into the workshop to get to know the tools. One of the most empowering things as a woman learning construction can be understanding the use of tools and what they can do. It gives you an idea of what is possible and how. We applied the tools to the task of creating a box that we designed and began to execute. I took portraits of the interns using the wet plate collodian process that the trailer is destined to house.  

 On the second day our female builder Alice Francis arrived and we set to work looking at how to construct the trailer, it was so inspiring being around all these different creative and problem solving minds. When having meals together it helped to cement us as a group and come at a problem with the same energy. After lunch we set about looking into the interns individual projects that they had been asked to prepare. The weekend ended on a high of everyone getting a start and insight into their own projects and the mass giveaway of tools!  

The next phases of the project are to complete the build and begin to contact primary schools about seeing them in the spring. This is when the other intern Faye McKellar will be joining to deliver educational workshops and create a slow moving wonderment down the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway. 

To learn more about Kyna Hodges’ practice, you can email her at kynahodges@hotmail.co.uk or visit her website https://kyna-hodges.com

Categories
News

Elsewhere: Andy Brooke. Where Were We Then? Where Are We Now?


This week The Stove has unveiled a new art exhibition by artist Andy Brooke in the town centre as part of our Elsewhere project. The exhibition reflects on the impact of the lockdown in the Spring, and the on-going impacts of covid-19 on the sense of community in Dumfries and beyond, from the lack of physical connection with others, to navigating public space, balancing relationships with our families, and valuing the health of everyone.
The exhibition has been created for two shop windows of The Midsteeple Quarter, and includes ceramic sculptures and a series of handmade prints. The exhibition will be on display at 113-115 High Street from the 21st of October to 22nd November 2020, and is viewable from the street from 9am to 9pm daily.

Where Were We Then?

“At the start of Lockdown I was surprised and touched by the new ways we learned of avoiding strangers on the street by a set of mutually agreed movements a bit like dancing around each other.
We were responsive and respectful towards others when out walking, shopping or cycling and a new code of citizenship was born out of the solidarity we shared. There was a kind of beauty there.”

Where Are We Now?

“We are better connected than we were in Lockdown, but we don’t really know the pathway through the next few months and beyond… The warp and weft of physical connection is still strong but we long for the touch of our fellow humans – we are tactile creatures who feel strange not feeling the rough or smooth palm of another in ours.”

Andy Brooke is a member of the Stove and a recently new resident to Dumfries. Having had the move from Essex to Dumfries delayed by the pandemic, Andy took part in the Stove’s homegrown project, a series of online invitations during the lockdown to respond creatively to covid-19, and is one of several artists commissioned to further develop his responses for this exhibition.
Elsewhere is a research project facilitated by The Stove Network that looks to locate creative activity in the High Street of Dumfries as a means of exploring public space during a time when we as a community are responding to, and recovering from the effects of covid-19 on our sense of place. Elsewhere is supported by the Midsteeple Quarter, and is part of the larger current project, Atlas Pandemica.
Elsewhere will culminate in a series of outdoor artworks in unusual spaces around the town centre on the 13th and 14th of November.

Categories
News Projects

Wild Geese: Exhibition

As part of this months Wild Goose Festival, The Stove cafe is currently sharing an exhibition of works produced by Fife College Learners at HMP Dumfries made as a direct response to the festival. The exhibition includes a flock of paper cut out birds, alongside two wall mounted works. Following a prolonged period in lockdown the festival was welcomed by learners as a breath of fresh air and working on this festival has been a welcome distraction during the present climate.

The learner who produced the watercolour on board painting said: “I would say the grey Largs arrive first – they are a much larger goose than the barnacle goose. About 50 went over flying very high, just a dot in the sky. They fly in family groups with 4/5 hatched gosling chicks that fly together. They return to the same place so their return to Scotland is passed onto their goslings. They like to feed as a family group and this too is passed on in this migratory journey. Food includes eating grass, rotting potatoes and chats – they love that!”

The conceptual goose painting is made up of lots of different geese contributing to the overall picture. The learner felt that this showed the comparison between all the geese working together and similar experiences within the learning centre and wider community. Individuals have tasked they need to complete to contribute to the successful journey together.

The geese will be on display in the Stove cafe until Saturday, 24th October.