Stitching Our Story began in 2016 as part of The Stove’s project ‘Our Norwegian Story’. The project was a series of events and activities led by Curatorial Team Member, Katharine Wheeler, which celebrated Dumfries’ unique connections to Norway. Stitching Our Story was created as a two day event and led by artist Deirdre Nelson. The event then turned into a 4-week block and was supported by our very own local artist and Archival Historian, Alyne Jones. Stitching Our Story has continued every month since due to the immense support and enthusiasm from a small focused group of stitchers. They meet on the first Wednesday of every month in The Stove Cafe, and spend a few hours talking stitching significant places on to map squares and sharing their unique stories and experiences of the town.
Initially, the group focused on places in Dumfries which played a significant role in the town’s Norwegian connection, including the iconic Rosefield Mills, which was used as the Headquarters for Norwegians in Exile during WWII. It was through their research of this particular building they were able to find out about other connections and places of significance and made time to sit together, talk about the stories that connect these places, share memories both old and new, the visions they had for these places and the importance they place on them stitch by stitch.
Over two years, the Stitching group have 20 beautifully stitched squares; some more detailed and others more sparse, all varied, personal and lovingly handled. The group are now looking to where they would like to go next with the project and are aiming to bring it all together for the end of 2019 and find a way to allow the squares to feel complete without covering every area in the same way. They hope to leave room for parts that are untouched next to areas that are more detailed, and find a way to display this work at the end of the project.
Norway is still very much an important factor in the stitching sessions and the group have continued to celebrate this connection when ever the chance arises – including the recent unveiling of the Whale Bench in Dock Park, which is situated opposite Rosefield Mills. They also recently joined Oceanallover’s Orographic micro-festival at The Stove to exhibit some of their map squares.
Stitching Our Story continues on the first Wednesday of everything month from 3-5pm. It is open to all and they hope to welcome some new members over the year to help them continue to recognise important places in Dumfries.