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Creative Spaces – What I’ve Learned

By Jodie Barnacle-Best

Jodie @ Caerlaverock Castle

Just over ten months ago now, I joined the Creative Spaces team alongside Rachel, Leanne and Jenna. Never having stepped foot in Dumfries, I tried to piece together what I thought The Stove was from behind my computer screen in Glasgow back in early 2021.

In the thick of a Masters, scouting the internet for opportunities which would allow me to exercise creative thinking in a purposeful way (a disappointingly hard task when you’re graduating in fashion…) while giving myself time to reflect and develop on the dreaded ‘WHAT NEXT?!’ question, joining Creative Spaces seemed like a good step to take.

Describing what I have learned as part of Creative Spaces would take too long, and even listing it out would be pretty exhaustive! It has been a whirlwind experience characterised in large by a trial-and-error approach. University and formal education settings in general have given me *a lot* (in fact, we did a whole block of events on this called ‘So You Wanna Go to Art School?’ back in September!)…

... but my time as a ‘Creative Spacer’ has been educating in ways I couldn’t anticipate.

Every day truly is a school day as our small (but mighty!) team handled everything from concept to production of our bi-monthly workshop programming alongside several one-off events.

It was real-life, project problem solving. And each week that looked different. From getting stuck in (and drenched) at Nithraid to having a day of ‘work’ which involved gathering foliage throughout D&G to decorate for the Wild Goose Festival closing event, to emailing pretty much every school in D&G to market our events…we did it all.

The days were constantly changing…and sometimes seemingly never-ending, but always fun when working alongside three others under 30 all with the same propelling goal; to put on interesting events for other young people in the region.

A big part of why I wanted to be a part of Creative Spaces was to become more engaged in community arts and look at ways my individual practice could connect with others.

Perhaps the hardest lesson in it all, was just how challenging this seemingly simple task is. Increasing engagement and ensuring we were facilitating activities and events which were of interest to our community at times felt like an uphill battle. Having spoken to many people in the scene and even having read some books on community art and participatory practice, it’s clear how universal this is. But when it all clicked into place, boy did it feel good!

I wrapped up my time with Creative Spaces with my personal project, ‘REMAKE Dumfries’, a month-long project of clothing regeneration with a collective of young people in Dumfries and Galloway. Facilitating this project involved utilising all the skills and experiences already under my belt. An individual project, succeeding because of the trials and errors that came before. An ending to my time on the Creative Spaces team that I’m proud of.

To sum up ten months in 500 words is inconceivable, but I hope I’ve managed to convey the core of my experience. Ten months full of connecting and creating, sometimes planned, sometimes off the cuff, sometimes succeeding, sometimes falling short. The opportunity to try and test has been a real privilege. My biggest take-away of all? Not everything has to be meticulously planned and conceptualised like it’s a three-month long university project.

Sometimes the most success comes from the simplest or spontaneous of ideas.

The ‘real’ world doesn’t mark you on your workings out (in fact they often don’t see them at all), so whatever messy route you take to get there, sometimes the most important thing is simply that you did.

Since completing her time as a Creative Spaces Associate Artist, Jodie has join the Board of Directors at The Stove Network.