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poem thing.

Image: Oriel Marshall – Nithraid 2013.

from stan bonnar

poem thing.

here it is. informal – but from the heart of me.

this is what i’m thinking… that we must not lose the deep meaning of nithraid… for after all, we sweated blood to get this far…we must affirm nithraid in the flow of world art with every action… that is our responsibility to art and people.

the main point is of course to show dumfries to the wide world as a place where things are happening. but if we are to show the art world that socially engaged public art is THE way to go, then we must show them that we have resolved the problem of the redundant art object.

here it is… the cow… the cow delivery system… the nith… the we the people… the thing of things!

what are we saying?

we are saying that this cow thing is alive and well and living in dumfries!
it was once a linguistic object – but here and now it is a liberated thing!

the reason it’s liberated is because we gave the art object the voice of a thing, and that thing is everything!

the dumfries nithraid cow is the THING of our imagining.

it is what we are and always were.

we are the nithraid thing.

nithraid is the liberating of the object once known as ‘cow’.

first we cover it in salt because salt imbues and confirms the cow as once-an-object standing in reserve of our existence (for our use as required).

but then, as the cow sinks into the river nith, we the people sing a mooing song… moo.. moo… moo…

the salt is washed away to reveal the new precious thing in the context of things.
and this act deconstructs and disrupts the limitations of our own object-centric thinking.



Nithraid was concieved as a public artwork to activate the riverside in Dumfries in the summer of 2013, and bring new focus and people down to celebrate the Nith. Now in it’s third year Dumfries is preparing to welcome sailors up river to the heart of the town when Nithraid 2015 will sail into town on Sunday, 2nd of August. Nithraid is free and open to all to attend, and last year saw crowds of 4,000 lining the banks to watch the winning boats cross the finish line. Find out more about this years Nithraid here

The discussion is open, and we invite contributions to our artistic conversations – whether you have been involved in Nithraid in previous years, are interested in the changing face of public art and when a sailing race is also an artwork, please get in touch via the comments box below or to send your contribution please email [email protected]

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