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D-Lux Festival Lights Up Dumfries

Last month, the first D-Lux Festival of Light came to Dumfries as part of the Big Burns Supper, bringing warmth, light and curiosity into the town centre at the darkest time of the year. A collection of artists were commissioned to explore new ways to illuminate the darkness, showing that light festivals play an important part in regenerating town centres, and making people think differently about the place in which they live.

D-Lux Festival of Light - Big Burns Supper

D-Lux is a unique partnership with Jardines Funeral Directors. D-Lux have matched their investment with an award from Arts and Business Scotland; an independent Scottish charity who help to nurture the creative, social and commercial relationships that will enrich creativity and cultural engagement across Scotland.

As well as focusing on re-lighting the town centre, D-Lux Festival commissioned a number of artists to bring light installations to Dumfries throughout the week, delighting audiences with performances and engaging participations, and focusing efforts in the heart of the town in front of the Midsteeple.

Artists Kate Drummond and Hannah Fox, also known as Ida Glimmer and Ava Shimmer, were thrilled to be bring ‘Delight’, their ‘constellation cart’ to Dumfries last month. This double act, with their beautiful illuminated ice cream van, portrayed magical shadow puppet stories that brought a little light and a warm glow to the streets.

Dead Famous Carnival

Throughout the week, the Bakers Oven hosted Concursum; an association of three alternative photography practitioners and artists, Laura Rhiannon Peters, Andrew Billington and Patrick Ballanger. They mainly specialise in a demanding and often temperamental 19th century process called Wet Plate Collodion which requires the pictures to be developed there and then. The process was used to make unique image objects called tintypes, and the pictures they took also appeared in the windows of the town centre over the course of the week.

D-Lux Festival of Light - Big Burns Supper

D-Lux celebrated the lives of artists lost in the last year with their event, ‘Dead Set’. Taking place at The Stove, in association with Blueprint100, the evening featured performances from local musicians as well as a discussion from Dr Sandy Whitelaw from the world leading ‘End of Life Studies’ department of Glasgow University based in Dumfries.


A commission from the Stove Network will saw the second artwork in a series entitled ‘Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain’. This interactive installation combined poetry, projection and film, from artists Colin Tennant and Martin Joseph O’Neill.


Artist, Jo Hodges, brought her commission ‘Angels’, to Dumfries town centre as part of the festival of light, where members of the public spotted Angels appearing in unlikely places throughout the town towards the end of the week.


Big Burns Supper at the Stove

Last week, The Stove Network ran as the town centre hub for this year’s Big Burns Supper Festival, hosting a variety of events over the 10 days, as well as being the base for the very first D-Lux Festival of Light.

The Big Burns Supper festivities kicked off on Sunday with the annual Carnival. This year, blueprint100 team members created giant skeletons of celebrities and artists lost in 2016. Among these were David Bowie, Prince, Muhammed Ali and Carrie Fisher.

Dead Famous Carnival

On Wednesday, we hosted ‘Being Made in Dumfries’; an opportunity to see the next crop of local creativity before anyone else as local playwrights, writers, musicians and artists presented their ‘work-in-progress’ to an audience for the first time. Martin Joseph O’Neill, writer and Curatorial Team member here at The Stove, began the evening with a discussion of his second artwork in a series entitled ‘Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain’; an interactive installation which ran during the week as part of the D-Lux Festival of Light.


The following evening, Holywood actor and D&G resident Gary Lewis hosted a special screening of the blackest of Glaswegian comedies – Orphans, starring Lewis and directed by Peter Mullen. The screening was followed by a Q&A with Gary. We had a great chat including the long and circuitous route getting started in acting, the value of independent film making, the uncertain future for film making post Brexit, and the most beautiful Scottish landscapes to work in.

To conclude our week of Big Burns Supper events, the Stove’s monthly open mic night had a special edition with ‘Brave New Words for the Bard’. The night was open to writers, performers and musicians with words spoken or sung to present their work in front of a live audience. The performances ranged from Brave New Words regulars and local young musicians Kate Kyle and Elia Davidson, as well as newcomers sharing their poetry and stories. Brave New Words will return at the end of this month with a special love themed evening.

News Project Updates

The Big Burn 2014

The third Big Burns Supper Festival really found its stride this year – there was a palpable feeling that the toon had taken BBS to its heart and was joining in at every turn…..big respect to the festival team and to Doonhamers everywhere!

The Stove joined in too – it has now become a bit of a tradition that we contribute something of the outdoor ambience to BBS (not quite sure how we ended up with that job at a festival in January!). This year we staged the Big Burn – but before we get to that there were a coupl of other wee Stovish things to enjoy – we made a lantern for the procession:

The Stove’s ‘bunch of balloons’ lantern – made by Danae Marshall, Iain Gisbey, Hayley Stephens and Sara Redden. Seen here at the front of the Homecoming Parade – carried by Hayley and Sara and ably assisted by Sara’s daughter Daisy.

More pics of the amazing parade and BBS generally at Colin Tennant’s Flickrstream

Katie Anderson made her own installation ‘Close Enough’ for the close next to The Stove:

‘Close Enough’ by Katie Anderson – domestic wallpaper designs stretched and interpreted in UV paint with an accompanying soundtrack of environmental sound and spoken word

The idea of The Big Burn was dead simple – to tell folk that we were making a bonfire in the middle of the High Street and to see what happened. We hoped to make a place that people would hang out a bit and get a bit of a warm….to bring a little of a familiar bonfire vibe into an unfamiliar setting and see what happened.

Will proved his mettle as firestarter general
No barriers….no problem

The first addition volunteered for The Big Burn came from Phoebe Marshall who brought along hazel twigs, marshmallows and chocolate biscuits. Toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits makes a smoor……

Regular marshmallow action on the flaming logs that stood around the fire
Extreme marshmallow toasting

The next unexpected addition was the arrival of the Cairn Chorus who were led to the Big Burn by Wendy Stewart. They sang beautifully for 20 minutes and included the most emotionally stirring version of Auld Lang Syne that I have ever heard. The fact that we were sitting around a fire in Dumfries on Robert Burns’ birthday was lost on no-one.

The Cairn Chorus at The Big Burn

The next intervention around the fire was the arrival of a troupe of mysteriously masked dancers:

Dancers in black and white at top left

There were no clues at all to the identity of the dancers – and if anyone knew, then they were giving nothing away… they melted back into the night just as they had arrived.

One of our Turkish neighbours played a bit of drum and danced briefly… tatties were baked and consumed and tea was had. Then the D+G Fire service arrived and offered to help us put the fire out… who can refuse a handsome fireman with a hose…

D+G Fire Rescue performing at The Big Burn

And that was that really – except that the 20 or so folk who were still around the fire then all help clear away the Big Burn. A human chain was formed and 1.5 tonnes of bricks were moved to behind The Stove… in under one hour from the fire engine arriving there was no sign at all that anything had happened in the square that night – apart from some very happy memories.

Thanks to everyone who made The Big Burn such a success – great craic and lovely to spend time with old friends and new. We have a feeling this just might become a Big Burns Supper regular feature… maybe we might be allowed an even bigger fire next year???

News Project Updates

Gin a Body Meet a Body

The keen eyed burghers of Dumfries may have noticed a lot of activity around the Stove this past week as men in bunnets and leopard skin toting ladies bustled around in ever increasing spirals of agitation, armed only with Stanley knives, paint brushes and reams of tracing paper. It’s been all hands to the deck as the Stove juggles projectors, aliens, keys, broken windaes all to get ready in time for the Big Burns Supper

Yes, after months of deliberation; eureka moments, several shoogly nailed marriages, shortfalls in monies, no monies, no ideas, awful ideas and finally super, nay super dooper ideas and enough monies to cover our costs, the First Foot show is finally about to kick off.

First out of the traps is ‘Windows for Burns Night’, a project that transcends time and place and asks contemporary poets to emulate the hard Bard Burns and speak of their own time via the medium of melinex and a permanent marker.

The results of this project, created by venerable Stovies Hugh Bryden and Dave Borthwick, have been a great success with established poets grabbing permanent markers and making free with the odes. Hugh, working with the primary school pupils in and around Dumfries has produced some sublime poems which are displayed throughout Dumfries. The collected works can be seen in the windows of the Robert Burns House museum, the Globe Inn, the Coach & Horses and on mass in the windows of The Stove.  

Poetry is often a respite from the hubbub of daily life, so it was nice to notice in Dumfries today, not hordes of Doonhamers clamouring to read the poems, but a few people pausing to take a few moments out of their shopping experience and the dreich weather, for a contemplative moment or two. 

Poetry is often a respite from the hubbub of daily life
Naturally some were in too much of a hurry to stop and stare.

Here are some of the treats that await you all between now and the 31st of January*

and finally from one our younger poets, Joanne Hiddleston.

* The poems on the Stove windows will be taken down on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for the First Foot projections.

News Project Updates

Windows For Robert Burns

From a press release by Jean Atkin of Word Sparks:

“Hundreds of poems will be on display in venues across Dumfries from this week as part of the Burns Windows Project. Inspired by Robert Burns’ occasional predilection for writing verse on window panes with a diamond ring or stylus, local artist Hugh Bryden and David Borthwick, lecturer at the University of Glasgow in Dumfries, came up with the idea of inviting contemporary poets to submit their own work for display as window poems. Poets were sent a sheet of clear plastic and a pen, and asked to write a poem which spoke of their own time ‘in a transparent way.”

“But David and Hugh had no idea of how the project would take off, with The Burns Windows Project attracting almost 200 poems submitted from as far afield as the USA, Belgium and Switzerland, as well as submissions from some of Britain’s top poets, including Jen Hadfield, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, Jean Sprackland, Andrew Greig and many others.”

“Hugh and David are members of The Stove, a collective of artists and creative people involved in regenerating the former Happit store in the High Street as an arts venue. The poems are a part of the Stove’s inaugural events weekend on January 27–8, part of the Big Burns Supper, with thirty of the best poems to be projected from the building during the Burns Supper extravaganza, with almost a hundred others on display in the windows.”

News Project Updates

A Wee Picture Of A Fishy Fish

What is artist Florencia García Chafuén up to?

Florencia is a visual and performance artist originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she trained in theatre and drama at the Norman Briski theatre school and movement with Laura Preguerman.

She also studied film making at the Fundacion Universidad del cine in Buenos Aires (FUC) and Physical Theatre in Scotland under the direction of Al Seed and Simon Abbott.

Since moving to Scotland in 1998 she has worked extensively in a wide range of art forms including dance, film, photography, theatre and music. She has performed with a number of different companies and directors both in the UK and internationally.

International Women’s Day, Tramway 2011, costume by Alex Rigg

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