News Opportunities Project Updates

What We Do Now – The Stove & Culture Collective

What We Do Now: An Introduction

What we do now echoes in eternity.’ – Marcus Aurelius

Ideas, Place and Opportunities

Last month, we announced the news that The Stove Network will be taking part in the Culture Collective programme – a major Scottish initiative for culture and creativity to play a role in the nation’s long-term recovery from the pandemic. 

The Project

The Dumfries & Galloway project ‘What We Do Now’ (WWDN) is a pioneering experiment working with creative freelancers, places and communities across the South West of Scotland. 

The Stove will work with five towns across Dumfries & Galloway to develop creative projects that support freelance practitioners/artists to platform and celebrate previously unheard sections in their communities through place-specific, relevant, community-led artistic projects. It is hoped the project will ignite and inspire new imaginative possibilities for the places that we live; with for and about the communities and towns involved. Inclusion, empowerment and creative freedom are at the heart of WWDN, reflecting the Stove’s and others continued practice in community arts and creative placemaking.

The Stove is partnering with Dumfries & Galloway Council, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Third Sector D&G and regional arts organisations Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Upland and Wigtown Book Festival to bring together a proposal for Dumfries & Galloway that will see creative freelancers employed to work with communities for up to a year in five ‘Place Hubs’. 

Each Place Hub will be supported to commission freelancers to collaborate and support creative ideas and projects with key sections of each respective community. Creative freelancers will be supported at every stage of WWDN and have access to relevant experience and skills of The Stove and our partners including: one on one support and mentorship, project delivery and production support, flexible payment and working formats that can be responsive to differing needs and working approaches.

Each of the five ‘Place Hubs’ are in or working with communities experiencing disadvantage and took part in The Stove’s research project – ‘Embers: Creative Placemaking in South Scotland’. All have identified sections of their own community where COVID has accentuated existing disadvantage and exclusion and have some experience of working culturally.

The Places

The five ‘Place Hubs’ we will be working with are: 

A’ the Airts – Sanquhar

A’ The Airts is a community arts space in Sanquhar working to contribute to the social, economic and cultural well-being of the communities of Upper Nithsdale by actively encouraging participation in a range of arts, crafts and related activities. They have identified the need to better connect with socially-disadvantaged young people (14-25) in the upper Nithsdale and engage this demographic in identifying, developing and producing activity and work that is relevant to them. 

Castle Douglas Development Forum – Castle Douglas

In the Stewartry the community anchor organisation for What we Do Now is Castle Douglas Development Forum, a community organisation set up to incorporate various civic organisations under one body. CDDF aim to develop a physical performance project with young women and families.

LIFT – Northwest Dumfries

LIFT is a community group focused on bringing together their community in celebration, activity and development of their place. Northwest Dumfries is a housing estate on the outskirts of Dumfries and listed in the top 5% on index of multiple deprivation. WWDN will work with young families and residents living in high-rise flats in the area, focussing on identity and a sense of belonging for children and families to enjoy and feel safe in the places they live. 

Outpost Arts – Langholm

Outpost Arts delivers an ambitious, contemporary and diverse programme of rural arts, offering a high quality creative education programme, multi-generational creative health and well-being opportunities and works to support the regeneration of Langholm & Esk. WWDN will work with Outpost Arts to creatively explore new spaces that community members and groups can use locally, working with a broad range of the community in the process.

Stranraer Millennium CentreStranraer

Stranraer Millennium Centre a Community Trust and resource for Stranraer that a regular program of events for community groups. The Stranraer project will work with businesses and other communities that use the town centre to engage with visions for the future of the town.  

The Creative Freelancers

At the end of this month, we will begin the Artist Call Out Process, so please do keep an eye out for opportunities coming up in the next few weeks. The Stove is an organisation that has had collective freelance creative practice at its core for over ten years in embedded community arts practice, and we’re delighted to be able to continue to use this experience to engage creative freelancers and support them in collaborating with communities, Place Hubs and their peers across the project.

10 substantial commissions of one year’s duration will be on offer through What We Do Now – these will be open to people from a range of disciplines and experience. Training will be available for people looking to diversify their practice into community-focussed work. Stay tuned!

Musings Project Updates

Glaciers in the Stove Cafe


There are 178,000* glaciers currently around the world. How many of them can you name?

People name things for lots of reasons; to claim ownership, to map, to locate, to commemorate or congratulate, to know or mark a time, or a place or a landscape.

In the naming of things we gain familiarity. It is easier to image a glacier called Foggydog, than one without a name.

If we can’t name them, how will we miss them when they are gone?

At the moment, 10% of land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice, including glaicers, ice camps and ice sheets. Glacial ice store about 69% of the world’s fresh water, if all land ice melted, sea level would rise by approximately. 70 metres worldwide.

Glacial ice often appears blue when it becomes very dense. Years of compression gradually make the ice denser over time, forcing out the tine air pockets between crystals.

Since the early 20th Century, glaciers around the world have been retreating at unprecedented rates. Many are retreating so rapidly that they may vanish within a matter of decades. Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change as they are so affected by long term climatic change such as precipitation, mean temperature and cloud cover.

In the Stove cafe as part of our Christmas decorations, we have christened over 80 of our festive baubles ceremoniously after some of our favourite glacier names, alongside the co-ordinates so you can look them up yourself. Pop in for a closer look.

News Project Updates

International Women’s Day at The Stove 2019

This year we were approached by students Bella Green and Candy, to host a day of activity at the Stove to celebrate and acknowledge International Women’s Day. The theme for our event – Wake Up And Love More – was inspired by Kate Tempest’s Tunnel Vision, a song from her latest album Let Them Eat Chaos.

Our programme comprised of banner and placard making workshop, a two week display in the Stove café, an evening of discussion, food and performance and a film screening to close the day. Due to poor weather, we had to put on hold our plans to occupy the High Street, but instead created a warm and welcoming space in the Stove’s café.

Bella Green introducing the evening. Image credit: Kirstin McEwan

On the evening itself, we were joined by Women’s Aid for Nithsdale and the Stewartry, who were able to share with us some of their work in the region over the past 20 years and their current challenges. Performances included poetry and song, and even a short quiz compered by stovie Kirsty Turpie!

Smash the Patriarchy bunting!

Our film choice for the evening was teen drama Skate Kitchen, directed by Crystal Moselle and featuring the story of Camille and the all-girl New York City based skateboarding crew, Skate Kitchen.

All donations from the evening went to Women’s Aid.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the preparations for the event, our performers and speakers. All image credits: Kirstin McEwan

International Women’s Day at the Stove was part of our Conversing Building project, an on-going programme of events and displays in and around the Stove building sharing ideas and projects with wider communities. To find out more email

Banners created during our open workshop
Musings Project Updates


Blog post from Stuart Paterson

Into the second of three months of the Lowland residency now & the project is nicely gathering pace & form. Things are beginning to take shape, both in the mind & in reality. The Flood of Words started out as a rivulet & is quickly becoming a spate. Coos have been dunked. Postcards have been piling up. Conversations have been had. Latvians have been gathering. Governmental approval has been forthcoming. Poets & writers have been assembled & given instruction &continue to rally to the cause.

Nithraid River Festival 2018 saw The Stove undergo Edinburgh Festival-like transformations as the weeks leading up to the Do With The Coo became days & great swathes of activity culminated triumphantly on Saturday August 11th on Dumfries’s Mill Green. The Salty Coo was held aloft & borne to the Green in a procession of funereal solemnity, weirdly inspirational music & surreal costumery, courtesy of pointy-eared funsters Madjakkals. It was hoisted high onto its pontoon midstream in the Nith, awaiting the winners of the boat race. They began to arrive after 1pm, completing a journey of 14 miles up the coast from Carsethorn (‘The Port of Dumfries’) by oar & sail, briefly, fragmentedly but strikingly recreating a time when the Solway was one of the busiest waterways anywhere on the British coast. By this time the Green was alive with stalls & people, performers & visitors, the river aflutter with sails. The weather was holding up & the Lowland stall was quickly busy with folk writing their thoughts on Dumfries on the Lowland postcards or the Typewriter of Truth.

Image Credit: Galina Walls

I was amazed at the amount of people who participated, popped over, curious, then keen to get involved. Many were visitors to the town, some from overseas, some day-trippers from outwith the region. Some were weans, some were ‘veterans’ of the toon. Many, many people were happy to contribute & so much of what they contributed was honest, touching, beautiful. Disparate words, phrases, poems, drawings, reflections, memories, hopes & visions coming together to add to a tapestry of what Dumfries means to those who live & visit here.

Image Credit: Kirstin McEwan

And so, the Salty Coo, created to commemorate two of Dumfries’s most important products when it was one of Scotland’s busiest trading ports – salt & livestock. It first appeared in 2013 – to be offered as tribute to the Nith & its glorious past, to rise again each year as a symbol of hope & optimism. This year, I was honoured to be asked to write an ‘Ode’ to the Coo as it was lowered into the river on some strange mechanical contraption & left to float downstream, its salt dissolving, its proud bovine features slowly disappearing beneath what passed for the river (2018 was a record dry summer). We’ll feature the Ode elsewhere on this site; in the Stove you can read it on a big blackboard. I proclaimed said Ode via the PA to the gathered masses, over 500 in the crowd, each of them shouting back the chorus with increasing gusto. It was indeed a proud moment, an exhilarating mixture of high panto & ancient Druidic solemnity as the Coo entered the Nith to the sound of the Doonhame Choir, was embraced by the Nith’s sluggish heartbeat, travelled 10 yards & got stuck on a traditional shopping trolley. No matter, the Ode will now be an annual thing, hopefully a fitting tribute not just to the town’s salutary bustling past but a verbal signpost to a future where the past’s not just a commodity but a mirror to the present.


In mid-August, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Communities, Aileen Campbell, visited The Stove. She heard about the ongoing work being carried out by the Midsteeple Quarter & their plans & vision for the regeneration of Dumfries town centre, making many of its empty or underused buildings accessible to independent traders & affordable properties for tenants from all social quarters. Aileen visited the Baker’s Oven, currently leased to The Stove for use as a creative venue for a peppercorn rent. While in The Stove, she spent time admiring the Flood of Words exhibition. It’s turning into some collection, I can tell you, an actual Flood of Words. It’s now taking up a whole wall in The Stove café & it’s still growing. Aileen was properly impressed by this tour de force show of community engagement & creativity. She has connections to the town herself & took away a Lowland postcard, promising to return it complete with her own creative thoughts on what Dumfries means to her. Cheers Aileen. And don’t forget the stamp.

Why not pop in & look at it? Or just to have a brew & something to munch – the Stove Café is a really central, accessible & mellow place to spend an hour or two in town meeting, blethering, thinking or just reading the papers. The food & drink are splendid too, the staff friendly & welcoming. And while you’re there, add your own tributary & see the Flood of Words grow further. There are Lowland postcards scattered about & a Lowland Post-box wherefor to deposit your words. Every word, every contribution means something as do you. Make yourself count.


High Street Writers will be meeting in The Stove on the following dates, all Wednesdays – September 12th & 19th, plus October 3rd. All sessions will run from 6-8pm & everyone’s welcome to come along, no matter your level of experience as a writer or in which genre (& it’s free). We’d love to meet you. Please come along. If you’ve any queries about the group or access needs, email The Stove & we’ll hopefully be able to sort it out. Writers are the beating heart of a community – come along to High Street Writers & help it beat stronger. And of course, Brave New Words, which I’m preparing for tonight. Dumfries’s very own fantastic showcase of spoken word meets on the last Friday of the month, next gathering being on September 28th at 7pm. There’s nothing quite like it in south-west Scotland. And if you’ve anything at all to contribute to or want to ask about Lowland, please comment here or send us a message at The Stove.

The Flood of Words continues, of course. Myself & Lowland’s lead artist Martin O’Neil have been meeting to plan & organise further events & engagements, particularly in schools & on the High Street. Look out for announcements about what’s coming up on National Poetry Day, October 4th, in the Baker’s Oven & on the street. The Dumfries Words Walk will be coming up in around 4 weeks. A series of posters, with extracts of work from many local writers, young & old, mostly alive, is in the production stages, for display in shops, schools, libraries & anywhere we can place them. And there are also plans to create a permanent poetry street, The Poets’ Close, in a yet-to-be-disclosed location in the town centre. Imagine – Dumfries having its own Poets’ Corner, where (most of) the poets arenae even deid yet.


Aaaand finally… On Wednesday September 5th, tangential to but still relevant to Lowland, we’re having the grand opening (huzzah!) of a major touring exhibition which will be at The Stove until the 13th. This is Latvia 100, celebrating 100 years of Latvian independence from Russia. It takes the form of 16 A1 panels of cartoon & text, drawn & written by the cream of Latvia’s creative talent & I can tell you, it looks utterly brilliant.

“This chronicle of Latvia’s history features historical events with international resonance: World War I, the interwar period, the Great Depression, World War II, the periods of occupation and related restrictions on freedom of expression, as well as the European Union and other contemporary political-economic subjects.”

There’ll be Latvian food, music & dance, all MCed by myself. It begins at 6.30pm with a speech by Dumfries’s Provost, Tracey Little, to be followed by an address by no less a person than Latvia’s ambassador to the UK, Her Excellency Ms. Baiba Braže. D&G’s Latvian community have responded brilliantly & we’re really pleased to be hosting an exhibition that’s also visiting Liverpool, London, Manchester, Glasgow & Edinburgh. The cartoons are tremendous. Please do come along & see it between the 6th & 13th, if you can’t make the launch next Wednesday. To which, of course, all are most welcome. No bad for a wee toon, eh? But a wee toon with an increasingly big creative presence on the UK stage.


News Project Updates

Dumfries Town Centre Plans Showcased at National Event

The Midsteeple Quarter Project in Dumfries has been presented as a case study at a national conference on community land ownership in Glasgow. The event, which took place on Tuesday 6th March, was led by Community Land Scotland – a registered charity which was established as a response to the need for a collective voice for community landowners in Scotland.

Our very own Matt Baker delivered the presentation last week, and commented on new legislation from Scottish Government which has made places with a population of over 10,000 people eligible for community buy outs of derelict buildings and land that is blighting their communities. For years, absentee landlords have been able to hold our High Street to ransom – this national event in Glasgow showed that Dumfries is one of the towns in Scotland that is leading the way for local people to take back control of their town centres.Up until now, communities taking ownership of their land has been a rural affair, with high profile examples such as the Islands of Eigg and Harries and Assynt in the North West mainland. The event on Tuesday addressed the need for urban communities to use the legislation and opportunities of community empowerment to regain ownership of empty builidings on High Streets that are owned by absentee landlords.
The Midsteeple Quarter Project is an example of community-led initiatives and has been working to breathe new life into Dumfries town centre by developing a section of the High Street as a live/work quarter. This project is a response to the desire to re-populate the town centre. Long-term and careful consultation facilitated by the Stove Network, Dumfries High Street Limited and other partners have identified a block of mostly Georgian buildings in the heart of the town centre as the site for this bold initiative that will see local people developing their own High Street.

On Saturday 7th April, there will be a public launch for the Midsteeple Quarter Benefit Society, and everyone in the community is invited to join in the effort to take back control of our High Street.
People can keep up to date with Midsteeple Quarter Project by visiting their website:

Musings Project Updates

Tattiefields Community Evening

From Katie Anderson – Lead Artist for Tattiefields
Tattiefields has awakened a true fascination with all things tattie-related as I’ve spent the summer working and re-working ideas for a new public space as part of a housing development in North West Dumfries. From the names of potato breeds, to their origins, growing seasons and varieties, good recipes to creative projects – I’ve started to go a little tattie-mad.

We decided to host an evening to share this new obsession, towards creating a bit of identity for the Tattiefields site, and also to become the first point for sharing the proposed designs for the location. Exciting times.

Tattiefields 1

The evening included a creative workshop inventing potato men, women, children, animals and aliens…, a curry cooking workshop, the sharing of new designs, a tattie buffet and ended up with some film screenings and the impromptu judging of the best tattie people creations. The event allowed Kirsty Turpie and I to really embrace our love of food as art and art as food, with (I hope) excellent results!

Tattiefields 2 _ KMcE
Tattiefields 3 KMcE
Tattiefields 4 MM
Tattiefields 5 KMcE
Tattiefields 6 KMcE
Tattiefields 7 MM

I’ve had some really great feedback to the designs, and now looking forward to getting into the production phases for the project! I am still very keen to speaking to anyone who is interested in developing a project to support vegetable growing, either in gardens in and around Lochside, or on site at Tattiefields in the Spring. If you have an idea or are interested in sharing some vegetable growing skills, please get in touch by email katie<at>

Tattiefields is part of The Stove Network’s Lochside Public Art Project, working in partnership with DGHP and Creative Futures Lincluden and Lochside.

Big thank you to project assistant Kirsty Turpie, Michael, Liam Templeton, Agne and Jimmy and Matt B for all the support in pulling the evening together. Thanks and image credits to Kirstin McEwan and Michael. To see the extended picture gallery, visit our Flickr page here

News Project Updates

Midsteeple Quarter Ideas Exhibition in Glasgow

Our recent exhibition in the Stove cafe is now on the move! Following a two week show in Dumfries, the exhibition is now installed and available to visit in the Southblock, in Glasgow during regular cafe hours.

Image Credit_Gordon Flemming_ARPL Architects_2

The Midsteeple Quarter Ideas Exhibition features 15 different submissions to our Architecture Ideas Competition that was launched in April in partnership with the Glasgow Institute of Architects.
The winners were selected by our panel of judges (see here for details) and are as follows:
Winner – First Place
Gordon Fleming, ARPL Architects
Second Place
Andie Cooke, Megan Ward, Cara Brunton and Ashley Mitchell
Third Place
Pioneer Landscape Architecture
Drawing Commendation
Ryan Canning and Titas Grikevicius, Holmes Miller

Following the close of the Dumfries exhibition our People’s Choice Winner, selected by popular vote, has also been announced:
Gordon Fleming, ARPL Architects

Second Place was awarded to Andie Cooke, Megan ward, Cara Brunton and Ashley Mitchell.

Exhibition Dates:
Friday 30 June – Wednesday 12 July 2017

Exhibition Venue:
South Block, 60-64 Osborne St, Glasgow, G1 5QH

Opening Times:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

MQIC Winner’s Presentation and Debate:
We invite you to join us on Thursday 6th July, between 6-7.30pm, to see presentations by the winning 3 entries and to discuss the possibilities of architectural responses to the decline of our high streets. Free to attend with complimentary wine but please book here

If you missed seeing the exhibition in Dumfries, and can’t make the Glasgow venue, the competition entries are available to download as a pdf, available here

News Project Updates

Stove is Norway Bound

‘Our Norwegian Story’ catch-up – Instalment II.

Part of this project took us to Norway to start to make some friends across the water.  We visited some of the former whaling towns that are directly connected to Dumfries as the home of those first arriving into Dumfries Station in the summer of 1941 – Tonsberg (our former twinning town), Sandeford and Bergen.

The enthusiasm and sense of shared connection to Dumfries with the people we met was quite overwhelming.  We spoke about the project in the Forsmannsenteret Centre for elderly residents in Sandefjord, children of those relationships and marriages made during the time of so many Norwegians in our town.  Met with local officials and other arts organisations to talk about future collaborations and tried to capture a tiny part of Norway’s side of our story.  There is still much to find out but we have made a start at least….we even made the local Sandefjord Press!

Norway:Scotland Flag copy

And it begins…

Norway Sandefjord copy

Sandfjord’s beautiful moving water sculpture

Norway Tonsberg2 copy

Making boats in Tonsberg

Norway Bergen copy

The World Heritage site of Bergen

Photo 01-10-2016, 11 08 51

Meeting Jenny of North Sea Traffic Museum

Norway Sandefjord Press copy

and the Sandefjord Press

Musings Project Updates

Stitching Our Story

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

What started off last Autumn as part of Mapping Our Norwegian Story workshops has taken on a life of its own through the Stitching Our Story open stitching sessions – artist Deirdre Nelson joined the ONS team to kick start a series of hand stitched maps of Dumfries, which have now been adopted by local historian Alyne Jones and the Dumfries Embroiderer’s Guild in a fast growing project to map contemporary Dumfries through the stories and histories of the town.


The Norwegian connections are mapped out across the 20 panels that make up the map, along with other significant and personal places – local schools, homes, historical sites and transport links all feature.

Stitching 1
Stitching 2
Stitching 3

Following on from successful evening workshops in February, Stitching Our Story continues into March, and all are welcome to stop in to the Stove cafe and add their own mark to the map. First drawn and then stitched over, everyone is welcome – Norwegian connections or otherwise – from experienced sewers to beginners.

Stitching Our Story is part of our ongoing Our Norwegian Story project, which has seen various events and activities exploring Dumfries’ Norwegian connection, culminating in the launch of a new Trail around the town in April 2017. For more details on the project, visit our ONS page here

Stitching 4

To come and help add your marks to the map, or to just see how work is developing, stop by the Stove cafe on Wednesday afternoons between 3.30 and 5.30pm. Contact Katharine katharine<at> for more details.

Image credits: Galina Walls and Katie Anderson

News Project Updates

Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain

Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain is a project between artists Martin  Joseph O’Neill, Colin Tennant and composer and musician Stuart Macpherson. First conceived as a short poem MSMR has since moved onto include a series of artworks and interventions throughout the High Street and side streets of Dumfries town.

IMG 6463

Come Dawn, a 12 hour writing project from 7PM to 7AM took place at the Bakers Oven in November. A performance installation, the writer sat typing whilst in real time, the words were projected onto the windows of the empty unit in front of a live audience.


Working from a manuscript of 60 pages the collective were commissioned by the D-LUX Festival of Light to produce an artwork showcasing one of the poems to be projected behind the Stove. The artwork deployed Burroughs’ cut-up method of writing in a live performance lasting four hours, four nights a week, where a single poem was transformed continuously by adding and subtracting the words, manually blocking the light of the projector through a window using paper and tape.


The regional project is inspired by the narratives of the small town at night and is to continue throughout the year in installations, performances and interactive artworks throughout the town.


Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain was a Stove Members project, supported by DG Unlimited and the Dumfries and Galloway Council.