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everybody is just a human being

Jordan Chisholm is a student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying Contemporary Perfomance Practice. She is currently doing a placement at The Stove and writing a blog about her experience with us – this is her first post..

Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance (Nithraid 2016) she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard
Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard for The Stove’s Nithraid 2016. Photo Kirstin McEwan

When I was thinking about where I wanted to do my placement for third year – I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do it in Dumfries. I moved to Dumfries, in 2012, when I was seventeen years old. When I left school, I had a university offer to do Criminology but I wasn’t entirely sure if this is what I wanted to do. My mum has stayed in Dumfries for around fourteen years and it was decided that I would move in with her, to be in a new environment with no one I knew.

I’d visited Dumfries many times at the weekends and over school holidays but living there on a daily basis was something extremely different. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the town. As an ‘outsider’ coming from Edinburgh; I felt as though I really did not belong in this beautiful space and I could not explain why. I guess this was something internal and I spent most of my first year living in Dumfries travelling back to Edinburgh; there was something I was not prepared to let go and starting a new life was not as simple as I had anticipated.

Time passed and I began to open my mind. I met new people and started to do new things. I began to explore Dumfries in a new way; it was like a playground – full of magic, wonder and uncertainty. I still feel much of that uncertainty today – over four years later. However, I am not scared by this anymore; instead it inspires me and it always leaves me wanting more.

Dumfries changed me. It changed the way I look at things, it changed my opinions, it gave me a platform to do things I never thought I was capable of doing, it gave me something to be passionate about, it allowed me to learn about myself and who I could be, it shaped my future, my hopes and my dreams; Dumfries changed my life. But could I change Dumfries?

When I think about what I may want to do in the future; giving something back to Dumfries is at the top of my list. You see, in this misunderstood town, where there may not be very much to do, there are hundreds of people who all share the same love and understanding of what this space really is. Dumfries has a strange pull to it; and this pull is of upmost importance to the future of the town. We have to work together to allow people to feel proud of where they come from – to make them want to stay. This is what I want to be a part of. A part of the regeneration of Dumfries through art, creativity and sheer hope. I want Dumfries to give everyone what it gave to me, and I don’t want them to have to look very hard to get what they are looking for.

The Stove Network is situated in the centre of Dumfries. It is a fully accessible public arts space/facility/resource for the population of the town and the wider region. It is a support network that creates opportunities and connections for the creative community and integrates with the local economy and wider society. One of The Stove’s aims is to use the arts to engage and empower people for themselves, the places they live and society at large. This aim is vital to my own learning and development; I knew that this was where I had to be for placement. I wanted to know how they manage to do what they do in a town that says no much more than it says yes. I wanted to live and breathe their commitment to the Dumfries community and I wanted to be around people who share the same desires as I do; who can show me how to make a positive difference with an understanding of the quality in process as well as the product.

Although I knew why I wanted to be at The Stove, I was still extremely nervous on my first day and I did not know what to expect. It reminded me of my earlier ‘outsider’ feelings but I pushed these to the side and arrived with no expectations as to how my first week may turn out.

I was met by curator, orchestrator and public artist; Matt Baker. The motivation for Matt’s work is to have an effect in the place for which it is made. I find it comforting and reassuring having the opportunity to be mentored by someone who vocalises that they became an artist to change the world.