My first year as Public Art Project Worker with Creative Futures

By December 17, 2018Musings

by Kirsty Turpie, December 2018

I began the position of Public Art Project Worker with Creative Futures Lochside and Lincluden in January this year. I was involved in the project last year as a Trainee Creative Producer, which seen me support Public Artists and attend community events. I really enjoyed being a Trainee Creative Producer so when the chance arose to become employed in this line of work I was excited and ready for it.

My challenge…to get residents in North West Dumfries engaged in Public Art projects. I was raring to go, and set up a weekly drop in at the Creative Futures hub under the name of Art in Action. The drop in ran for 5 weeks, and there were 5 local residents attending. We looked at local and international artists and public art examples and created small sculptures.

The name Art in Action has stuck and I have took it on the road to Lochside gala, a pop-up gazebo workshop in Lochside, Lochside and Lincluden Primary Schools and Nithraid.
One of the main projects I’ve been focusing on is the revamp of the Lincluden rhino statue. After research and consultation it was decided that I would offer the community a chance to create a new colourful look for the base of the rhino through the medium of mosaics. And, oh, have I fallen in love with them! I got up to speed on the mosaic techniques fast so that I could bring them to the public. In order to provide the mosaic workshops I had to do some preparation of ordering materials and experimenting. I’ve really enjoyed this part of the job. My background is in Graphic Design so I haven’t had too much opportunity in the past to work with large scale materials. So having to phone up builders yards, go to collect large pieces of wood and tile grout and having to use power tools to cut the wood to size have all been new and exciting responsibilities.

Kirsty and some of the team behind the new mosaics for the Lincluden Rhino

Another project that I have taken on through this position is the Lochside Primary School commemoration sculpture. This project has been a great opportunity to connect with the community on an ongoing basis and understand how to portray their ideas and history. In May I began working with the primary school pupils to design a totem pole featuring their memories of the school and it’s history since opening in 1962. It was lovely to hear the children’s memories and see them using paint and collage to get them down on paper. Back at the Creative Futures hub I drew up the final design comprised of six cement shapes to represent each era the school has been open. Mosaics would also be used in this design to create the children’s drawings and patterns and give the primary children a chance to learn this way of working. It is fair to say that they have enjoyed having a go. A small group of them came to the community centre and created the primary school logo out of mosaics and put it on to the first cement shape. In the summer I held a two day pop-up mosaic workshop in Lochside where families from the area took part. It is so rewarding being able to give people a chance to try something new and get creative. They always surprise me with their original ideas and creative flair.

Pop up mosaic workshops on Lochside Road


Something that has really stood out for me this year was in the October holidays when the Creative Futures team helped me to produce a whole week of art activities appropriately named ‘Art Week’. It was amazing to have the freedom to come up with a programme of events, and included in this a bus trip. Being able to organise a bus trip to be enjoyed by so many from the area and give them the opportunity to connect with public art, was truly brilliant. We took 32 people (adults and children) to Glenrothes in Fife where there are over a hundred pieces of public art. We went on a walk around the town led by local community workers who told us about the history of art in Glenrothes. It was great to hear people talking on the way back about how Dumfries could be different.

Visiting artworks in Glenrothes!

Not only the bus trip but the rest of Art Week was fantastic too. We ran the workshops 11am until 3pm and invited children to bring their own lunch. This gave us plenty of time to get artistic. Some of the local children came every day. Holding these daily workshops has shown me how much my confidence has grown over the past few years in this line of work. I now feel really confident planning and delivering workshops across many art forms.
All in all being part of the Creative Futures team this year has been brilliant in so many ways. It has given me the opportunity to run many different workshops, given me the challenge of adapting to using new materials, the chance to work on large scale projects, and learn how it is to work as an artist in a community setting. I am really grateful for the responsibility and opportunities I’ve been given, the team I’ve been working with and the new connections I have made within the community. I now feel a welcome addition to community events and people know they can come to me if they have any creative project or workshop ideas. I’m looking forward to continuing these projects and developing new ideas in the new year.

Stay in touch with the Creative Futures project by following their Facebook page here
More about Kirsty Turpie and her art practice on her Community Art page here