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Gordon Robertson RIP

Gordon reading from his ‘Life of Robert Burns’ at The Stove in January 2016

Gordon Robertson 1936 – 2018

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Gordon Robertson yesterday. Gordon had been a Stove member since the very early days and was a supporter, contributor and inspiration to The Stove.

Dumfries has lost a great intellect, artist and historical resource, Gordon was a linguist, Burnsian, painter, draughtsman, local historian and above all an enquiring mind and passionate Doonhamer. When he approached you never knew whether he was going to talk about Wagnerian Opera, his travels around Norway, his latest book or his battles with acrylic paint.

Gordon was a regular at Stove events, performing at many and a great patron of the Café – he was held in great affection and regard by all at The Stove. A wee light of civilisation and culture has gone out in the town – Gordon we salute you.


Lochside Public Art Project: New Artists!

Following our recent call out for artists to work on two new commissions as part of the Lochside Public Art Project, we are delighted to introduce the artists that were selected! The application process was highly competitive, with a variety of brilliantly different artists applying from across Scotland to work on the project.

The Lochside Public Art Project consists of four separate projects, two currently ongoing, and these two new projects that are just starting, all four will be completed by the end of the year. The project has been created by The Stove Network in partnership with DGHP, (Dumfries and Gallloway Housing Partnership) to create new permanent artworks as part of their new housing development, The Meadows, in Lochside, North West Dumfries.

Our call out was for two separate commissions:

Corners and Offcuts
A commission to look at ‘left-over’ and ‘in-between’ spaces around the new housing development, that can create interesting places for residents to pause, and can utilise some of the underused parts of the site. For this project we have commissioned Susheila Jamieson and James Gordon, artists and stone carvers based in the Borders, and have previously worked on Summerhill’s Land Art project. More about their previous works available online here

‘Jamieson and Gordon are a design company specialising in creating public and socially engaged art installations in the UK and abroad. Susheila Jamieson is a professional sculptor and arts educator, and James Gordon, a landscape designer, also sculpts. We produce commissioned artworks in consultation with local communities. Cultural heritage and other aspects of place are often a starting point for developing ideas. Much of our work is abstract and is often inspired by the wider landscape and aspects of nature. Past commissions include work for Woodland Trust Scotland, Newcastle City, East Lothian, South and North Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Dumfries and Galloway councils, Sustrans and various housing associations.We use materials that enhance or reflect the environment including Corten steel, green oak, stone, galvanised steel, ceramic, bronze and glass. Our work is unique, robust and intended for outdoors.

Developing designs for artwork is often undertaken in conjunction with community/stake holder groups, and we enjoy working with and running workshops for varied groups including schools and adults.

We are delighted to have been selected to create new work for Lochside. We have worked in Dumfries before and know that different areas of the town have different identities. We are keen to create work that reflects and celebrates the unique character of DG2.   The artworks will be “carved in stone” and we are looking forward to working with the local communities of Lochside and Lincluden to develop ideas and designs. “Taster workshops” are being planned where local residents can come and try stone carving and tell us what they would like to see incorporated into the artwork – these will be advertised on the Creative Futures facebook page, and in the North West Dumfries area.’

Susheila Jamieson and James Rachan – new artists for the Corners and Offcuts commission!

Signs and Symbols
Our second commission, Signs and Symbols looks to create a new visual presence across the Meadows site, taking inspiration from the wildlife and environment of the surrounding areas, the new housing styles, and ideas from local residents. For this project we have commissioned Glasgow based Design by Zag, graphic design company ran by Kat Loudon and Kirsty Geddes. More about their previous work available online here

‘Design by Zag, run by Kat and Kirsty, is a design company based in SWG3, Glasgow. As trained graphic designers, we have a strong focus on research which we use to formulate ideas, drive concepts and create relevant and meaningful projects.

We are delighted to be have been selected by the Stove Network and DGHP to work on the Signs and Symbols commission. We look forward to meeting the people of Lochside to create this piece of work for the local area.’

Kat and Kirsty of Design by Zag: new artists for the Signs and Symbols commission!

ONS Artist in Residence

Those of you who attended our Norwegian Skill Share, Dugnad at the beginning of the month may have met our new artist in residence, Kirsten Bertelsen, who has joined the Our Norwegian Story team.


Kirsten Bertelsen (b. 1966, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen. She graduated from MA Psychology at University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1991-1998) and BA (Hons) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College, UAL, London (2012- 2015).

She setup Gesamtkunstwerk Aps (2008-2015), an independent cultural agency specialized in strategic development of arts institutions, and their relationship with local communities. She has worked in association with the Danish and Scandinavian Arts Councils and is currently working on a 10 year/long term art trail in the region of Sör Tröndelag in Norway.

Over the last 3 years, she has developed a project in Norway, working to link young London based artists with the region Sør Trøndelag north of Trondheim. Every summer four artists travel to the island of Stokkøya to work for 4 weeks. The residency is part of a long term plan to ignite the area, instilling a sense of belonging amongst the residents on the island, which will hopefully encourage younger generations to come back and settle when they have graduated with their degrees from universities in the bigger cities.

Exhibitions include Strangelove Moving Image Festival, London (2015), Metaphoinica Film Festival, London (2015), The Kings Cross Curious Festival, University of the Arts, London (2015), One to One Charting the Personal Terrain, The Rag Factory, London (2014) and In Between States, Mile End Art Pavilion, London (2013).

25 2016 The Stove Norway by Ronnie Galloway _MG_9546
Norwegian Skill Share – Rope Making and Knot Tying with Cluaran. Image: Ronnie Galloway

As an artist, she has a strong interest in the role art can take outside the bigger cities and how artistic methods can contribute to an investigation of values about place and about belonging. She takes pleasure in research both from reading, and studying archival material, from talking to experts, and from listening to the stories of local people. Kirsten is from Scandinavia, and has been working intensively in Norway making her a great asset as Our Norwegian’s Story artist in residence to help bring this part of Dumfries’ story to life. So if you have any questions or stories please do get in touch. She will be living in Dumfries for 2 months during Autumn, and she will be very happy to meet you.

Kirsten Bertelsen – [email protected] – 07583548048

Musings Project Updates

As Above So Below

From Ivor Gott


“Hey Ivor, it’d be pretty neat if you could write a blog to tell us about your project for nithraid” announced Katie Anderson excitedly at the last Young Stove meeting. The first thing that went through my mind upon hearing these words was “CRIKEY!! How on earth am I ever going to explain this to the general public?” . . . After much careful consideration, i have come to the conclusion that the best approach would be to just tell the truth.

So here goes. . .

It all started with a pirate ship, a great big pirate ship. A great big pirate ship made out of recycled plastic bottles. . .  So how did i get from a pirate ship to two pyramids or should i say tetrahedrons, a chrome unicorn and an art performance based loosely around the concept of enlightenment. The truth of the matter is I didnt get there on my own. The pirate ship was a snap decision made during a meeting with my stove mentor Denise Zygadlo.  i was feeling under immense pressure to make some sort of decision on the project, at this point it had been two weeks since the commission had started, and my initial idea, although perfect for the dock park site (where nithraid was originally intended to be) was just not going to work on mill green. . . “come on Ivor” My inner voice urged. . . “what are you going to do? It must be good, no better than good, It must be fabulous!” . . . so before i had even properly thought about it i found myself telling denise that i might make a pirate ship out of plastic bottles.

This idea then grew from a pirate ship into a viking long boat, inspired by a workshop held at stove that evening. However this was not to remain the case for very long. After a few meetings with my fellow creatives the Mad Jackals (Majikals) the idea of making a viking long boat was starting to seem pretty tiresome. I just couldnt get excited about it. It wasn’t a reflection of me nor was it a reflection of my wonderfully creative friends. . . Then it just came to me i said. “We need to make a pyramid and float it down the nith!!” . . . “We have to have a unicorn inside the pyramid!!” . . . the words of a mad person? Yes, probably.

At this point there was myself, sophie and michael at the studio. You could feel the collective excitement crackling between our minds. I started scribbling ideas down.  it MUST and I repeat MUST include the mer-ka-ba, rainbow smoke, flash grenades, horned elementals . . . i was really getting away with myself, credit to Sophie and Michael they were running with me, we were organic and free, if not a little overly optimistic.

The next day I met with my little brother. We were sat in the queensberry, and i was expressing anxiety over the size of the project as it stood. Conor very often being the voice of reason, is somebody who i consult when mashing around creative ideas. He is himself a creative, but where I go off on tangents and allow my concepts to grow bigger than my mind can handle, he has a real skill for reducing it down and keeping it real. i can always trust him to tell me the truth, and to be realistic. . . “one question?” he pondered with his eyebrow raised ” How are you going to do this in 2 weeks?” . . .

I knew he was right. The idea had to change again, and it had to change fast. More of the jackals were arriving at this point. ideas were being thrown around, the ideas were coming thick and fast –

“time capsule” . . . ” Did you say time capsule. . .

Thats perfect. the mer-ka-ba. . . As above so below. . . We’ll make a time capsule and we’ll make it in the shape of an inverse tetrahedron. . . of course we’re going to need a non-inverted tetrahedron too. . . ahhhh its perfect. . . there will be two tetrahedrons. . . the unicorn thats staying, the rainbow smoke has to stay too. “

In order to maintain some mystery about the performance and workshop I’m going to stop there, but in a nutshell thats how an idea that first birthed itself into consciousness as a plastic bottle pirate ship evolved into an exciting interactive art performance based loosely around the theme of enlightenment. We look forward to seeing you all on sunday, when all will be revealed. . . One thing i’d like to say before I get back to putting the finishing  touches on everything is that this commission although applied for as a solo project has been a collaborative effort, I often find collaboration so much more exciting than working alone, and have the most fabulous team of creative individuals in my life. We are the Mad Jackals because, they think we’re mad, but we know that we are majickal.


Stove Member Profile: Denise Zygadlo

Following on from Tea with Moxie, our  herald, she has become interested in the many different kinds of members in The Stove Network. She’s been catching up with and speaking to various members, and we’ll be introducing one every Friday over the next wee while. Interested in chatting to Moxie? You can get in touch with her on The Stove Herald facebook page here or by email.

This week Moxie has been speaking to Denise Zygadlo.

Denise has lived in Dumfries since 1980, moving from London with her husband to start a cabinet making business and bring up 4 children. As the children grew she gradually returned to her artwork, beginning with running art classes and community projects, making quilts and wall-hangings (e.g. 1996 Thornhill quilt hanging in Thomas Tosh.)

Having studied printed textiles at Winchester art school, her interest is in printing and cloth, and she has developed her own practice, focussing on drawing and looking at the relationship between the human body and cloth, through the use of the photocopied image and transfer-printing onto fabric.

Her work has been exhibited in Glasgow, Edinburgh and in ‘Affordable Art’ shows around the country and abroad and she has had 2 solo shows in The Mill on the Fleet and Gracefield Arts Centre.

Portrait of an Artist – a short film by Jo Hodges and Roger Lever

Did your life take an unexpected direction?

Suddenly finding myself saying “further education in art” when asked about career moves at school. Finding myself moving to Scotland. Finding out I was pregnant with our forth child and singing with him 23 years later on his first album. Becoming part of the psychology dept in Dumfries. Being a mushroom on wheels with Oceanallover. And lots more

What is your greatest fear?

Driving on an 8 lane freeway in America

Tell us about your creative process.

Looking at inspiring images, talking to inspiring people. Making notes; drawing.

What is your earliest memory?

Dressing up box.

What drew you to The Stove?

The first meeting at Parton – The energy, vision and determination of the core group and the excitement of it all happening in Dumfries.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.49.27

Share your hope and dreams for The Stove?

That it becomes a place that everyone feels comfortable visiting and enjoying.

What keeps you in and around Dumfries?

Family; friends; landscape; art opportunities and support.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?


What’s been the most exciting part of the Stove Process for you?

Seeing the activities they create and put on outside in the centre of town where everyone can get involved.

What makes you feel alive?


What songs do you carry closest to your heart?

Ella Fitzgerald songs and stuff by my son Rudi and ‘Loving you’ by Minnie Ripperton.


What’s your role within The Stove organisation?

Ordinary member that likes to get involved.

How would you like to be remembered?


What’s the best piece of advice you have ever got?

Let go.

What’s your dream for the arts in D&G?

That it continues to grow in all directions as it seems to be doing now.


Stove Member Profile: Mark Lyken

Following on from Tea with Moxie, our  herald, she has become interested in the many different kinds of members in The Stove Network. She’s been catching up with and speaking to various members, and we’ll be introducing one every Friday over the next wee while. Interested in chatting to Moxie? You can get in touch with her on The Stove Herald facebook page here or by email.

First up this week, is Mark Lyken!

Mark Lyken (1973) is an audio & visual artist. He creates musical and sound pieces, film, paintings and installations. His recent residency work has explored relationships to place and the complex interactions between nature, industry and culture. He is particularly interested in revealing the musicality of the environment and regularly collaborates with other artists and specialists from different research fields. In 2014 Lyken and Emma Dove established the Glasgow based Art label, ‘Soft Error’. Mark is also a Cryptic Associate Artist.

Tell us about your creative process.

It’s a process of gathering, layering, refining and removing, I think that holds true for if I’m painting, making music or working in film. Our work over the last three years has had high levels of public engagement which is a new development, particularly for me as my default mode is hermit!

Working collaboratively with Emma over the last few years has been a real eye opener, we make work together that neither of us would make apart. It’s quite an odd thing and one that we are wary of questioning too much in case it stops working!  You each have a voice but combined it’s something more than the sum of its parts.

What drew you to The Stove?

I genuinely believe they are making a real difference and I think the way they present themselves is pitch perfect. The residency seemed like an excellent way to continue a line of work we are interested in ie: relationships to place but in a completely new location that was culturally and geographically unfamiliar to us. We knew that we would have to move down to D&G lock, stock as we would have struggled to get under the skin of the place if we hadn’t been living down here.  6 months is a very short time to be in a place and any work created in that time can only ever be a snapshot but I imagine this work will be part of a larger whole. We’re not in any hurry to rush away.

What time of the day do you like most?

Between 7 and 9am. I find that a super productive time. If we are filming, that “Golden Hour” before Sunset can be very magical.

Which films changed your life?

Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Blade Runner and Clerks. For widely different reasons but all made me want to become involved in film making in some way.


What keeps you in and around Dumfries?

Well at the moment, Emma and I are completing a 6 month residency with the Stove, we had assumed we would head back to Glasgow afterwards but are becoming gradually seduced by the region.

What songs do you carry closest to your heart?

It’s an album and it’s called “Raining” by Rolf Julius. Rolf was a sound and visual artist from Berlin, who unfortunately passed away in 2011.

It’s a very simple record, I think it may have been part of an installation originally. It’s nothing more than field recordings of rain with some very subtle electronics. His concept of “Small Music” and the overall aesthetic really speaks to me. Another one is a series of pieces called “The Disintegration Loops” by William Basinski. It’s one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard.

The story is Basinski set out to digitise old magnetic tape loops he had. He loaded up the loops, set them playing and hit record, gradually over the course of 40 or 50 minutes the tape literally disintegrated as it repeatedly passed the play head, the sound becomes gradually more distorted and has bigger and bigger gaps until there is nothing left to play at all. It’s hypnotic.

Actually you should link to one of them here

Who, from throughout history, would you like to sit and have a good chat with?

Andrei Tarkovsky, although I would need a translator as my Russian is pretty bad.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I came runner up in a Star Wars short story writing competition in 1982 and received a letter of congratulations from C3PO and a Chief Chirpa figure.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever got?

Show don’t tell.

What’s your role within The Stove organisation?

At the moment I’m an artist in residence along with Emma Dove. Beyond that I hope to rent a studio space within the new Stove building and use that as a base for upcoming projects. I find The Stove a really exciting organisation and imagine the relationship will continue.

Tell us your passion:

Modular Synthesisers.

Read more about Mark and Emma Dove’s collaborative residency project HAME, which is part of the Stove’s Open House here

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