Blog Post from Community Artist and Stovie Kirsty Turpie
Growing up in the small town of Lockerbie, I was surrounded by a great sense of community. Some of my favourite memories include going along to coffee mornings in the town hall with friendly faces serving tea and cakes, doing arts and crafs at Brownies and playing board games at the youth club. All of these experiences gave me a sense of belonging and connectedness. When I began volunteering and working with Creative Futures in Lochside in Lincluden I quickly began to feel this sense of community once again and it is this feeling that made the experience of working for the project so exciting and unforgettable. Over the two and half years that I worked there, the project became increasingly integral to providing opportunities and events to allow the coming together of the communities in North West Dumfries. I was proud to be a part of it and to be the one that was now helping to provide the type of events and activities that I once loved as a kid.
One of my highlights event wise was the two day Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge in 2018 as it got young and old involved and allowed the public to come and share in the experience at the fnale meal on the Saturday night. The challenge was launched at Summerhill Community Centre in June by Scotland’s national chef and TV personality Gary MacLean. Teams of six were urged to sign up for cooking challenges over the summer with the fnal two day challenge including a master class by Gary MacLean. It took some time to motivate the community to sign up to a team but the perseverance was worth it as so much fun was had at the challenge.
On the Friday night teams were invited to Lochside Community Centre for the canapé challenge. There was a table of ingredients and a list of canapés they could make. Local MP Emma Harper joined the line up of judges and all of the teams got in the spirit and tried their hardest to impress with creative and tasty canapés.
First was the marketing challenge where they had to come up with a community event that they would hold with an imaginary £300, second was the cooking challenge with chef Gary MacLean and third was the hospitality challenge where they had to dress and set a table. Whilst the teams were doing their challenges I held activities to keep the children busy which included making chocolate crispy cakes, designing fruit faces and colouring in. There was a real buzz around the community centre all day and into the night with the community meal and challenge awards ceremony.
I was asked to co-host the awards ceremony with Gary and we even had a red carpet! The competitors of the day and the winning team The Rhino Chef’s were very chuffed with their achievements. The Rhino Chef’s won £300 to fund their community idea from the marketing challenge. Fast forward a year later and this idea became a reality with North West’s Got Talent going ahead at Lincluden Community Centre… another fantastic night!
The Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge is an example of many of the things that I enjoyed about working for Creative Futures… providing events across many diferent venues to get as many groups involved as possible, seeing community members find new skills and be proud of their efforts, having to take on more roles than just artist, running workshops in a large variety of themes, learning a lot about event organising and running and seeing community groups receive funding to do their thing. All of this and I’ve not even touched on the creative side of things…and there was defnitely a lot of that over the two and a half years.
My frst two creative remits were to work with the community to create new artworks for the Lincluden rhino statue, and to collaboratively design and build a commemorative statue for Lochside Primary School…not the smallest of tasks! It took over a year to see both of them to fruition and the journeys for both of consultation, research, development, collaborative work and creation were immensely enjoyable. And what was the material / technique that I fell in love with over this period…if you’ve seen or heard about the projects then you’ll know that it’s MOSAIC! Yes, all of those tiny pieces of shiny colour perfect for surviving outdoors and an activity that all ages can get involved in.
For the Lincluden Rhino statue artwork creation I held mosaic workshops at Lochside Gala, Nithraid, Lincluden Community Centre and worked with the Primary 3 class at Lincluden Primary school. To compliment the rainforest themed mosaics created I invited pupils at Lincluden Primary School to come up with rainforest designs for the metal work. This led to the fnal stage of the upgrade…the two day spray paint workshop at the rhino statue. We had the Creative Futures sound system along with us and had 30 children join in over the two days which created lots of hype about seeing the completed renovation. Local roofer Gary Barsch helped to install the mosaics and in May last year we held the launch party. Likewise with the installation of the Lochside Primary Commemoration statue local builder Malcom Campbell helped by laying the concrete base for the structure. It was great to work with local people on all levels to make the art projects happen.
After the completion of the rhino statue artwork and the primary school statue I wondered what would be next, but there wasn’t much time to think because there are so many active organisations in Lochside and Lincluden with plenty of ideas and it was coming in to summer… a busy time for providing events for young people and families. First stop was the YMCA who had just moved in to the former Lochside Primary School and had a newly found huge space to decorate. The building was our oyster! I took on the role of helping the young people decorate their reception area with a day to night themed mural.
In the summer holidays mosaics returned as I ran a workshop for the young people to create an under the sea mosaic for their art room. Through providing these workshops I built up a good relationship with the young people and felt proud to see them trying new creative skills and take ownership of their spaces. The summer continued with the creation of a bottle cap mural for LIFT’s NANA’s Park community garden space, and the Creative Futures summer theme Fashion & Festival leading up to the Day of the Region Fashion festival.
The creativity continued in to Autumn with October Holidays Art in the Park and painting a mural on the Pop Eyes Park electrical sub station with designs and help from the Lincluden Rainbows and Brownies. It was fantastic to be able to work on such a variety of projects and not only allow community members to join in on art projects but actually get them involved in brightening up the spaces in their area to make them more exciting and enjoyable places to be!
My fnal task at Creative Futures whilst packing up my stuff was packing up the Creative Futures room to be moved over to the projects new room at the YMCA centre in Lochside. It felt like an appropriate end to be seeing them off on to their new chapter as I was going off on mine. It was an amazing few years of creativity, community and fun… and I’m excited to see what all of the projects, local people and young people that I worked alongside get up to next.
Kirsty Turpie March 2020
What would Dumfries say?
Sometimes things start small.
Whilst working with the Young Stove to imagine what The Stove could be, this popped up. The Stove would really have quite a lot to say. What about the rest of the town? If the old buildings in Dumfries could speak, what would they say?
If the old brig would speak, what stories would it tell?
Would it shout loud, or whisper quietly to a neighbour? We thought it best to ask around.
Responses flooding in, and orange speech bubbles floating around town (what would Rabbie say, sat with his view of the High Street?), what places have the loudest voices? Voices started to come thick and fast, helped along by Herald Moxie and a band of merry Young Stovies.
Want to see more speech bubbles? A selection are available here
What speech bubbles could we stand up for? What voices could we wear?
There comes a time when it is good to call in an expert. Our expert on hand, was talented and patient printmaker and artist Sarah Keast. An island of calm amongst apparent chaos, the Stove was a ship sailing in a wild afternoon of frenzied t-shirt printing.
And still we printed on. We ran out of t-shirts, did a quick t-shirt run, printed more t-shirts and ran out of ink before the afternoon was through, printing nearly 140 t-shirts in four hours. The Young Stove showed themselves to be an unstoppable tide of creative energy.
Beyond Doubt Into Love may well be a t-shirt for a moment in time. One things for sure, they are a rare and precious commodity, created by our community, and if anyone has a large mens in the neon pink – we’ve had a request for one.
This is less of an end, and more of a beginning – keep an eye out for speech bubbles: once you start noticing them, they tend to pop up all over the place…
The Stove Network’s Trading Journeys began with artist Alice Francis and her fine friend Douglas setting off for Wigtown
Photography by: Kim Ayres, Matt Baker, Colin Hattersley, Will Marshall and Colin Tennant
A while back we put out an opportunity for something called a ‘Public Communicator and Herald’ – We had a strong sense of the spirit of the role, but found it very hard to describe exactly so the selection process was a very 2-way process. After much conversation and inspiration from all involved in the process, Ladies and Gentlemen we are very proud to announce that our Herald is Moxie DePaulitte!
Hello there, I’m Moxie and I’m delighted to be able to introduce myself as The Stove’s newly appointed Public Communicator and Herald which, at the risk of sounding like a Valley Girl, is just like, totally, you know, the coolest job title ev-ah.
I’ve been asked to write a short post introducing myself but, although I’m really good at talking about other things, I’m really don’t excel at saying things about myself so I enlisted the help of my four year old. This is what she said:
“She is nice and cuddly and warm. And she has a really nice job. She do some importment stuff and she always loves me and she always does nice stuff for us. And she uses all her money up for food for us. Her name is Moxie she does some pretty good stuff. Can I go back in the paddling pool now, please?”
So there you have it; a definitive guide to me, my work and my new role.
I think she’s pretty much covered everything but, just in case any of you aren’t fluent in Preschooleeze, I’ll translate…I’ve been involved in the arts for as long as I can remember and love the passion, power and opportunities the creative process stirs up. Sadly, however, art works are frequently just presented to us and the glory and excitement of this process is missed because we don’t know the why, the what, and the wow.
A lot goes on behind the scenes and, when a group is so absorbed in a project, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows the back story; the reasons and the nuances behind a piece. It’s not transparent. So, this is where I come in: Part of my role is to help more people become aware of and involved in that very process; to make sure everyone understands what’s going on and that the cogs are visible as they’re turning.
The lovely people at The Stove know it can often feel like events go on around us and happen to us rather than with us and for us and they would very much like that to change.
On funding bids they probably call it ‘Building Stronger Community Relationships’ but, luckily for me, that translates as ‘meeting up with people for a cup of tea, chin wag and a biscuit’, so get in touch! Share with me your ideas and questions; I’ll be delighted to talk them through with you. Let’s see how we can get you involved.
email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you.
Be part of something brilliant. You really can help shape Dumfries into the town you know it can be.
The Stove’s focus is growing towards Guid Nychburris Day, and our upcoming events to co-incide with Dumfries’ annual Riding of the Marches Day. This will be our third year presenting work as part of the annual festivities, and with each year our fascination with the history behind it grows.
Guid Nychburris Day has been held near annually since 1932, but it’s origins lie further back when King Robert III granted Royal Burgh status to the town in 1186. But where has the festival we see today grown from? From where and when have each of the customs, important figures been added to the event?
Although there are other March Riding traditions across the border and beyond, each having grown it’s own unique customs and traditions – and we’ve been thinking slightly further afield at the origins of tradition in community based and led festivals:
From the ancient and obscure, such as Ottery St Mary’s Flaming Tar Barrels tradition: part of their annual carnival on the 5th November. “The exact origins are unknown but probably started after the gunpowder plot of 1605. Various alternative reasons suggested for burning barrels have included fumigation of cottages and as a warning of the approach of the Spanish armada.”
To the more modern adaptations – take the Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival (coincidentally this week) for example, which only started up in 1988 but harks back to the celtic Beltane festival that traditionally took place at this time of year. At what point do these events go from being a bit of fun to a ‘venerable tradition’?
A shortlist of some of the curatorial team’s favourite festivals:
The Baby Jumping Festival
Or, “El Colacho” dates back to 1620 and is a Spanish ritual involving men dressed as the devil in red and yellow jumpsuits paired with modern running shoes, jumping over babies born in the previous twelve months; thought to bless the newborn children and remove original sin, preparing them for a life on God’s true path.
Which needs little introduction, but sees the creation of a temporary community for a week each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. “The Burning Man organization (Black Rock City LLC) creates the infrastructure of Black Rock City, wherein attendees (or “participants”) dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, leaving no trace.”
Up Helly Aa
Although first appearances may suggest a harking back to ancient Viking celebrations, Up Helly Aa is actually a relatively modern – having grown out of wild Christmas holiday celebrations. The current form, including guizing and torchlit procession was first introduced in the around 1870.
The Hindu festival celebrating the end of Winter and the arriving Spring – sees social rules and expectations relaxed in India, “Social barriers are broken as people of all ages, genders, castes, and wealth gather together and celebrate the festival. In fact, it is said that one can get away with almost any kind of behavior on the day of Holi by saying “bura na mano holi hai,” or, “don’t mind, it is Holi.”
Palnackie Flounder Tramping Championships
Naturally, we couldn’t miss out the more local eccentric festivals. Palnackie’s Flounder Tramping Festival has been missing from the calander the past few years, but rumour has it is due to make a comeback this year. It was the brainchild of villager John Kirk, who on a sunny summer afternoon in 1973, offered a bottle of whisky to the person who could catch the biggest flounder.
And so back to Guid Nychburris. As we delve into the history of the town’s Charter and Seal, the importance of the flag and the many gates and keys along the route as well as the roles played out by the Cornet, Lass and entourage – all the pieces that add to the sense of tradition and occasion – get in touch with us! If you have any knowledge or insight into the history of Guid Nychburris, we’d love to hear from you: Fire off an e-mail to email@example.com