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Musings News Project Updates

Anne Waggot Knott in conversation with community artist, Maya Rose Edwards

Written by Anne Waggot Knott

In preparation for ‘Raise the Sails’, a community festival celebrating a new vision for Stranraer’s harbour area and marking the culmination of public art project, ‘Harbour’ by artist Maya Rose Edwards, I asked Maya to share some of their reflections on the project so far. 

Maya, you’ve embedded yourself so joyously and emphatically in the town. Talk to me about Stranraer’s incredible community.

Where do I start? They’re marvellous. They stick together in a very fundamental, tangible way, a result of living somewhere on the edge of things. But despite the wonderful togetherness I’ve also found pockets of futility – people have big ideas and are very impassioned, but there’s a shared sense of being on the wrong side of history. 

The younger generation faces real challenges and lack of opportunity. But, encouragingly, they have a vision of what the place could be, not blighted by what it was or hasn’t been. They’ve got an energy about them which is really exciting. Allowing space for young, positive voices is essential for community regeneration. 

Stranraer is a hub for a lot of surrounding villages. There’s a distinct rurality and sometimes a certain disconnection with the rest of Dumfries and Galloway. But this also generates pride and determination: “Stranraer is brilliant and we’ll make sure you know that, and if you don’t accept it we’ll keep it for ourselves.” Fine, and fair enough!

There are pockets of potential change; people with great ideas, inspiration, a lot of fight. People that show up, show an interest, are hardworking and inquisitive. The Urban Collective, the Men’s Shed, Stevie at the fishing shop, Vivienne at the Community Re-Use Shop, young people from the college. There are so many more… I feel like I’ve developed real, reciprocal relationships in the town, proper friendships. 

One thing that strikes me is that there are lots of people and organisations developing plans for the future, but they need to talk to each other. Hopefully I’ve started helping them make those connections. 

Your project brims with connectivity but also has a basis in activism and disruption. How can this light the touchpaper for change?

For a community with a historical legacy of being let down again and again, there’s only so much fight that they can conjure from within themselves. For me, the ability to make a mark in this respect was so important. 

The idea of occupying space, either with an artwork or your body, can generate change. Parts of Stranraer have suffered from the management of decline, but it’s happening so slowly that the locals sometimes miss it. Creating unexpected things to look at, things that catch your eye or that you can interact with, generates a strong shift in people. It’s my job to equip people with the tools to do that themselves, help them see that standing up for a change they want to see is always an option.

There’s something about being an outsider that makes this possible. Sometimes you need someone with a fresh perspective to come and say, how about we try this?

One of the biggest markers was when we spraypainted the Harbour wall mural. It kicked up some fuss, but it turned a dial. It generated conversation, which generated understanding, then finally an expectation about what’s coming next. It could have failed, but it didn’t. Tiptoeing around wasn’t going to work. I had to set an example that risky moves are ok. 

Risk is an important tool. When a community doesn’t feel in control there’s a sense of disempowerment. By choosing a risky action you choose the level of control for yourself rather than having it put upon you. It’s also a great way to get a big response from a lot of people and get the conversations started.

What are your project highlights?

The high points are unquestionably about bringing people together.  

The graffiti with the college kids, one of the very first things we did together. Their sense of pride was evident, marking a real moment of arrival. Similarly, we’ll be marking my departure with the festival in April. 

The Sea Witch sculpture day was great. Everyone brought different perspectives but a common purpose, which then flowed outwards into the community. Looking through the beachcombed objects was important in a cross-generational way – older people had memories about the pottery and plastic soldiers, young people recognised the vapes as part of their own history. The sea collects and spits out these stories, mixed and matched and collaged together – everyone’s past, present and future is there. Creating a character from those lost objects was a beautiful thing to see.

Making sails at The Hub was fabulous fun! We had people of all ages helping each other out. Kids that wouldn’t normally be in a room together. Older women who said art drop-ins should be prescribed on the NHS, that it’s like therapy. Tiny, naughty tots just running around painting themselves. We had a blast.

None of the above means anything without quiet moments though. Someone brings you a cuppa. The hello-in-Tesco moments. The guy in the chippie asking how the project is going. Like having a baker or a teacher, every town should have a community artist. Creativity has a huge impact on people and places. 

What have been your biggest challenges?

There have been just as many challenges as highlights! In simple terms, sometimes you just want to shake people who think change is impossible. That sense of futility being so ingrained, to the extent that it influences others too. Trying to unpick it has been a real challenge. But I also have a lot of respect and understanding for it.

At the very least, what seeds can I sow? I’m planting seeds in the middle of that knot of futility. But it’s a massive responsibility and has to be undertaken really carefully.

It’s also been hard to bring to attention things that people firmly don’t want to look at. That brings vulnerabilities. You can see these things very, very brightly when you come from elsewhere but dealing with them sensitively is often difficult. 

I see you working with other people’s vulnerabilities but in order to do that you need to make yourself vulnerable as an artist too, don’t you? It’s reciprocal.

Yes. You’ve got to expose bits of yourself too, so it’s an exchange. That’s how I’ve built trust and relationships. I really enjoy it and it’s integral to my practice. 

Stranraer is a community partly built on migration which is an interesting dynamic to work with. You have the embedded generational impacts over time and then you have people who come here and see it with fresh eyes as a great place to live. Once those people have a conversation with each other, possibilities emerge.  

The way the waterfront is cut off from the town by the road is a huge problem. You can’t just wander down to the waterfront, you have to actively cross several lanes of traffic. Those historical planning decisions have massive impacts when considering public spaces. 

Interestingly, not everybody sees themselves as a community of the sea; there’s also a challenge in the disconnect between the people who use the water and the people who use the land. Sometimes they don’t realise that they’re each other’s greatest asset and many of them want the same things. It’s like a glass wall, and nobody wants to be the one to make the first move. So there have been occasions when it’s my job to make the first move on behalf of everybody and nobody.

That’s interesting, can you expand on that a bit more?

For people originally from Stranraer, the water is a historically dangerous place due to sea waves from the ferries. It wasn’t always about having a good time and mucking about on the beach, it was a place of industry. Seeing people using it in a leisurely way, when first and foremost it’s a place for work, that grates. So there’s almost a moral judgement: you have the luxury of time to play around, but we need the water to make a living. I’ve come to understand that it can generate a bit of friction. 

There’s something exciting about the waterfront as common ground though, as the physical place for people to come together, because of its status in between. At the minute, aside from the working harbour, parts of it feel unexciting and inhospitable. People say, why would I want to occupy that middle ground, there’s nothing there? We need to change not only what we put in that space, but what it means to people and how it can reflect them. 

Let’s talk about Raise the Sails, the harbour festival on 20th April, the project finale.

It’s a free, daytime festival with food, live music and exciting activities for all ages, held at the Unexpected Garden on Saturday 20th April, 11am-2pm. There’s a very special event at 12 noon, so come down early!

I have a lot of hope for this, bringing people together. Stranraer has a long history of festivals – it’s a language the community speaks. It’ll be creatively out of the ordinary but really enjoyable, something people will remember. This is my final chance to plant a seed in those knots, and reach people I’ve missed. 

Food, music, activities for kids – we’re listening to the necessities then adding so much more. I’m hoping the legacy continues to unfold quite slowly over the coming months. That those seeds start to grow.

And finally, why should folk join us at Raise the Sails? 

For the sake of sheer nosiness, just pop down – you’re going to get a free meal! Be open to something you might not expect. It’s an opportunity to come together. And anyway, what else are you doing on a Saturday morning?!

See you there. Bring your hopes, dreams, friends, and family. We can raise the sails together. 

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April 

11am – 2pm

News Project Updates

Raising the Sails and Raising the Game

Written by Anne Waggot Knott, Project Researcher and Reporter

A spotlight on the work of community artist, Maya Rose Edwards, in Stranraer.

Diving into Stranraer’s history paints an evocative picture. A proud port town and a vibrant, prosperous meeting place. Its connection to the sea meant connections right across the world.

This rich history, full of local stories, memories and reflections are explored in the work of artist Maya-Rose Edwards. Commissioned and supported by The Stove Network, Maya is using their creative practice to spark new ideas about Stranraer’s waterfront and how it can once again form a vital part of the community, infrastructure, and identity of the town.

It’s been years since the all-important ferry terminal was moved to Cairnryan and, following a fire at Ayr station over six months ago, the train from Glasgow doesn’t currently stop at its unique waterfront destination on the East Pier. Maya’s project, ‘Harbour’, has identified the challenges faced by these changes. Through creative consultations and engagement activities with local people, they’ve supported parts of this community to continue to grow in confidence, to express their opinions and to work collaboratively to lead the change they want to see in their town. 

Research shows that proximity to the coast boosts our health and wellbeing, yet Stranraer’s wide roads, car parks and security fencing separate the town from the seashore. Despite this, the community has responded to the provocations initiated by Maya’s approach, galvanising the town’s fighting spirit, to reconnect with, revitalise and reimagine Stranraer’s iconic waterfront.

It only takes a tiny bit of research to understand that Stranraer has been let down again and again. Grand plans for the waterfront have been unveiled before, or built, removed, or fallen into decline. Promises made but rarely sustained. But, despite the departure of the final ferry, there remains a canny vibrancy in Stranraer, a strong sense of place and pride, locals and incomers, warmth and tradition, prosperity, and innovation. It’s a wonderful place to be. Yet all this potential seems somewhat unrecognised by a very specific combination of circumstances, policy decisions, and an apathy borne of a long history of false starts. 

Urban Collective Presenting at a Creative Stranraer Vision + Action Meeting

But now if feels as if the tide is turning. Strong glimmers of hope are arriving. There’s a cumulative explosion of funding and progress right now, much of it driven by arts, culture and sport: Creative Stranraer, the George Hotel, the Unexpected Garden, the Urban Collective, the Stanctuary, Spring Fling Rural Mural, the new Water Sports Centre, Dumfries & Galloway Council and various community groups are working in conjunction with Stranraer’s Place Plan and associated activities. This is a huge opportunity to rethink the waterfront. It’s time to seize the moment. 

That’s exactly what Maya has helped people do over the last six months.

Maya has delivered collaborative arts activities and conversations with over 500 participants. Children and families built a Sea Witch from coastal plastic gathered by the Beach Cleaners – you can see it in the Harbourmaster’s Office window; newly-empowered college students painted a guerrilla mural showing just how much they love Oor Wee Toon; drop-in visitors set hopes and dreams afloat in paper boats, and young people made Portholes to the Future.

At the same time, unexpected installations appeared. Mysterious doorways arrived along the seafront overnight, dreamlike portals for us to depart from the present and arrive in an imagined future. Silhouettes emerged on the security fencing at the East Pier, inviting us to take ownership of that wasteland once again.

Throughout, Maya worked deeply in and with the community. Everything has been co-created. Each work involved reaching out and forging new partnerships, listening to Stranraer and building layers of understanding.

All these interventions have brought people together and sparked impassioned conversations about the waterfront. Maya encouraged an openness about the challenges and frustrations, but also reignited hopes, dreams and actions.

We’re looking forward to ‘Raise the Sails’, a free waterfront festival in April. This will be a culmination of all the work so far, a chance to enjoy food, music, performance and a bonanza of community ideas.

‘Raise The Sails’

A special community festival taking place in the Unexpected Garden, Stranraer

Saturday 20 April

11am – 2pm

Musings News Project Updates

Year in Reflection

What has The Stove achieved over the last year?

2022 was an exciting year for us here at The Stove. From developing new projects, expanding and delivering ongoing ones and growing opportunities for creatives in the region, we’re immensely proud of the team, and so thankful for the continued support of our members, customers, communities and partners, all of whom have played a part in the story of The Stove.

Looking back at all the fantastic things the Stove team have accomplished from April 22’ to March 23’, we asked our team to reflect on their highlights of the year:

Saying Hello and Goodbye

From April 2022 onwards, we had a year of providing opportunities at the Stove. During this time, we awarded the total value of £237 537 of contracts to people, 56% of which were under 25 and 86% were local.

We said goodbye to two members of staff this year who have left to grow and complete projects and career goals of their own, Edith and Beth. We said hello to five members of new staff over the course of the year. This year we were fortunate to work with a brilliant new team of Creative Spacers; Alice, Emma and Morgan, and we said hello to two new members of our comms team; WWDN Content Creator Malcolm, and Marketing Assistant Erin. Last year we also welcomed our community events producers, who have been supporting Open Hoose; Leanne & Mia. You can learn more about our team via our The Stove Team page. Our Production lead, Sal Cuddihy, shared the following thoughts about our producers;

“Its’ been an absolute pleasure having Leanne and Mia join our team this year to pilot a Creative Event Producer program, they both have done some amazing things this year, working with a wide range of communities to deliver events. Now with Meg as our newest edition to the production family, I’m super proud of them all!”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead) on our Community Event Producers

22/23 Projects at The Stove

Open Hoose

Open Hoose is a project at the heart of the Stove’s community venue. Ideas are given the space, time, resources and support of the Stove Network to launch ambitious projects to galvanise and gather our communities together.

The projects that have been nurtured through our Open Hoose programme this year have been; Doughlicious, Free Improvisation, Queer Club, The Hoose, WRITE!, Climate Kitchen, Nith Life, Doongamers and Repair Shop.

Our Community Events Producers shared the following about their involvement with Open Hoose: 

“My Highlight of last year was watching community groups grow through our Open Hoose program in numbers and ambitions throughout the year.”

Leanne Bradwick (Community Events Producer)

Working on Open Hoose events makes you realise what’s possible when you empower the community to take a lead in local programming. The possibilities are endless and the impact this has had on individuals and the wider community has been invaluable.

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces & Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Open Hoose HERE.

High Street Multiverse

High Street Multiverse is a digital, public art project run by the Stove Network, supported by Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited. This project saw different QR codes being stationed at different points on Dumfries High Street with different content to access when scanned.

You can find out more about High Street Multiverse here.

Brave New Words

Brave New Words continued throughout 2022, before coming to a bittersweet ending. Brave New Words was the Stove’s monthly open mic night for writers, artists, musicians and songwriters to share words spoken or sung to an audience in the heart of the town centre. 

“Brave New Words – I cried, I laughed, I contemplated and I was inspired!'”

Lindsey Smith (Finance & Operations Manager)

You can read about Brave New Words HERE.

It sadly saw its last hurrah but keep an eye out on our programme to see any future developments

WWDN & kNOw One Place

2022 was a big year for WWDN – our creative placemaking network. WWDN supports partnerships between artists and community organisations across Dumfries & Galloway, co-creating with local communities to develop new projects, local plans, training, and enterprise. 

Kathryn Wheeler, our WWDN Project Lead shared the following about the previous year.

“Last year has been one full of changes, as most are in both the areas of community and cultural working. The focus of my work has grown more and more towards the development the What We Do Now project, working with the team here, and the community organisations involved, to shape a network that can support creative projects to emerge from communities across the region with the aim of starting new and inspiring things in those places. A highlight for me was September, when we were able to stage Scotland’s first ever Creative Placemaking forum, welcoming artists, community groups, policy-makers, funders, to share their ideas on the value of this work and the impact it could have for our communities if properly supported. For me it really highlighted how our small corner of the world is punching way above its weight.”

Katherine Wheeler (Partnerships & Project Development)

Malcolm Struthers our WWDN Content Creator shared the following thoughts about their involvement with WWDN last year,

“It has been a pleasure to help share the story of What We Do Now, and how it has grown and developed over the past year. In particular to help showcase the variety of activities that have taken place across the region, in the communities that are part of this ground-breaking initiative.

Malcolm Struthers (WWDN Content Creator)

KNOONE Place took place in Dumfries in September 2022 and was an ambitious, future-thinking discussion on how communities can use creativity to lead the development of their places. 

You can read KNOONE Place HERE, and you can visit the WWDN website HERE.


A highlight in our calendar every year, Nithraid returned with a splash in in 2022. Nithriad Festival celebrates and explores Dumfries’ long relationship with its river and its importance to people and the communities it connects in the past, present and future.

Each year we hold a River Race to celebrate our heritage and connection to the Nith. The 2022 race was saturated in sunshine and saw lots of people venture along the Nith.

Production Lead Sal shared the following about last years race;

“Now part of the fixtures for coastal rowing and canoing we had over 40 different vessels competing on the river Nith, that and the weather being in our favour for a change, saw the river the busiest it has ever been with competitors and was incredible to see.”

Sal Cuddihy (Production Lead)

You can read more about Nithraid here, and follow the Nithraid Instagram account here.

Public Art

2022 was also a big year for Public Arts. Public Art activity at the Stove supports core programming with additional activities exploring temporary or permanent uses in public space, as well as offering support to external projects such as the fountain project. From the Progressive Seagull Alliance (yet to be trademarked but watch this space), to the beginning of the Fountain Restoration project, a wealth a public art projects have been carried out across the year. 

Reel to Real Cinema delivered monthly screenings of cinematic gems. From documentary to artists made shorts, independent to international film. We aim to bring people together to share food, film and discussion. Katie, our public art lead shared the following about Reel to Real, 

“In August we hosted a special screening of Long Live My Happy Head with the filmmakers, Gordon Shaw and friends. Gordon left a truly inspirational mark on all of us and I feel privileged to have been able to host the space. And just last month, we hosted a screening of [BREATHE] from Orchestras Live in the Dock Park bandstand, which felt like a such a good opportunity to experience film together in an unexpected setting.”

Katie Anderson (Public Art Lead)

Conversing Building exhibitions in the café this year have included work from Access Art, Holywood Primary School and HMP Dumfries in collaboration with Alice Myers. 

Wild Goose Festival

The Wild Goose Festival returned, bigger and better as ever. The week-long festival weaves art, culture, and nature together through a series of activities from interactive storytelling, nature walks, conversations to performances and creative workshops for all the family. 

“Wild Goose Festival welcomed 3000 visitors across 35 events at multiple venues throughout Dumfries and Galloway. The festival is co-designed and delivered in partnership with over 20 local and regional organisations, and is a platform to explore nature, creativity and place through celebrating the inspirational migration of 6 species of geese into D&G each year.”

Graham Rooney (General Manager & WGF Project Lead)

“My standout moment of last year was the successful launch of the Wild Goose Festival website. It was months of planning, collaboration, geese, and hard work. I’m very proud of what we achieved.”

Robbie Henderson (IT Coordinator)

Solway to Svalbard, an immersive, multi-artform response to the spring migration or barnacle geese launched in 2022. Created by composer Stuart Macphearson, filmmaker Emma Dove and sound recordist Pete Smith, this unique piece of theatre brought together original music with cinematic visuals, evocative soundscapes, and live storytelling.

You can visit the Wild Goose Festival here.


The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) partnered with Dandelion, to create the Unexpected Garden at Burns House in Stranraer. Led locally by, Emerging Creative Producer, Bethany Piggott who worked with both the partners and community to deliver the project.

Stove Orchestrator Matt Baker shared the following thoughts about what was happening in Stranraer last year,

“The Stove project that gave me the shivers this year was the Harvest Festival in the Unexpected Garden in Stranraer, it had all the classic ingredients to transform a place into something exciting and gathering people from all walks of life to come together and celebrate their community and their love of their town.”

Matt Baker (Orchestrator)

Read more about Dandelion here.

Creative Spaces

Fuelled by experimentation and play, Creative Spaces is predominantly about working collaboratively to engage, inspire, provoke and provide both experiences and opportunities for young people in Dumfries & Galloway. 

Creative Spacer Producer Mia shared the following about the 22/23 Creative Spaces achievments: 

“If there’s one thing this years Creative Spaces team did with bells on, it was engagement. From Dundee to Stranraer, Wester Hailes to Caerlaverock, the team have engaged with a plethora of community groups, organisations, charities and people in order to build a larger picture of what the creative industries looks like in not only D&G but the whole of Scotland and to inspire wins from other places here in Dumfries. The associates have engaged with young people from across the region championing the creative industries whilst also engaging with our board and membership to inform proactive change internally from the perspective of young creatives.”

Mia Osborne (Creative Spaces and Community Events Producer)

You can read more about Creative Spaces HERE

It’s true that ‘the people make the place’, particularly when talking about the team here at The Stove. Working with such a talented and dedicated team is a joy, and I cant wait to see what we achieve together over 2023.

Kevin Stewart (Head of Communication & Engagement)

Looking forward…

You can find out more about each of our ongoing projects here, and you can look at the the work we have completed over previous years in our archive here.

We have events at the Stove all year round! You can check out our current event programme here.

Musings News Project Updates

Expectations Versus Reality: Community Arts Practice Edition

by Rachel Shnapp

It’s easy, when initially developing a creative project, to let your dreams run away with you. When I first thought up the project that I would be developing within The Stove this winter, my plans were, on some scale, grandiose. I saw the project spanning across the region, inspiring five football teams (full size, not 5-a-side) of young people, who, like me, had grown up surrounded by the moss and the hills and the dry-stone dykes of Dumfries and Galloway, dreaming of clapper boards, dressed sets, and, let’s be honest, Hollywood* mystique (*note the two Ls.)

The project I was aiming to deliver was a series of screenwriting workshops with three groups of young people from the region who, on a national level, fell under the bracket of ‘rurally excluded’, each from a different geographical area of the region. (Aside: we could have a whole other conversation (and multiple debates) about the phrase ‘rurally excluded’ and its role within diversity and inclusion, but that’s for another time.)

My aim was to teach these three groups of young people how to construct short narrative films, focussing on naturalistic and localised film, and through this process co-write a script with each group, that I would then go and shoot.

I envisioned ending with a series of coming-of-age short films based within the region, telling stories that spoke to a generation of kids who rarely (if ever) see themselves on screen. This would combine my own practice as a director, and the work I had been doing for the past six months at The Stove in community arts. The thought of inspiring the aforementioned penta-football gang of local-next-generation screenwriters and filmmakers appealed to no end. 

I’m going to do something you are generally not supposed to do in storytelling. I’m going to drop the spoiler in right at the second act:

I didn’t reach my expectations for this project. I’m going to do something else you are generally not supposed to do in storytelling: admit that I am an unreliable narrator. To say I didn’t reach my expectations for this project, would be telling only half the truth. The full truth, which sometimes we must wrestle with to discover, weed out of the proverbial pavement, is that my expectations shifted entirely throughout this project, and my initial goals, although in some ways not entirely met, paled in comparison to the happy accidents that shone through.

Due to various circumstances, I ended up only working with one group, of five young people, all from one town.

Firstly, with the impending threat of another Covid lockdown, all the schools I had hoped to work with were closing their doors to external visitors. Another group I had been introduced to were, sadly for me, not at all interested in screenwriting. Other pre-formed groups across the region had their spring schedules signed off well before Christmas, and were therefore unavailable. This singular group situation was not the geographically wide-ranging cinematic spectacular I had planned for. But within the confines of reality, I was able to spend more time and energy working with a group of young people who were determined, hard-working, and, truly benefited from the workshops in ways I had not at all anticipated.

(Disclaimer here: I definitely do not claim to take all the credit. I’m sure, without me, the group would have developed these skills in time on their own; and the team leading the group were making leaps and bounds with their photography and filmmaking abilities before I even stepped foot in the space.) But to see, first-hand, the benefit of having a space for young people to collaborate and work creatively, to try new ideas, and to (it seems so simple in hindsight) just be themselves, is more valuable than any evaluation procedure jargon I could have come up with in the first place.

This realisation, this eureka moment, is that what so many young people in rural communities really need is a space to hang out, to eat snacks with their friends out of the cold, dark Scottish winters, to truly be themselves around people who accept them and want to support them. A space to try out new ideas without the judgement of small-town-small-minds that can so often hold back anyone who does not conform entirely. I am definitely not the first person to make this realisation – I have seen colleagues in the region come to this conclusion and work tirelessly to provide these environments for the younger community. But to see it with my own eyes, up close, to be told by one of the young people that they feel ‘more at home here than at home’, to be able to contribute to that safe, comfortable space, where a young person is able to just be themselves. There’s nothing that could be more valuable, more inspiring, or more cinematic than that.

Rachel Shnapp is an Associate Artist forming part of the Creative Spaces Project 22-23


Dumfries Tower of Light: Reflections

Post by Stove Public Art Lead, Katie Anderson

Dumfries Tower of Light: Image credit Ruari Barber Fleming

On Sunday, 19th December the Dumfries Museum Windmill Tower was lit up as it never has been before, with over 1000 individually lit candles gracing it’s unique architecture. The idea was first floated in 2020 when Dumfries and Galloway Council was looking for alternative ways to mark a Christmas Lights Switch On, but that could be hosted in a safe way for families and local folk to gather. The Stove Network team, working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Museum’s grew the idea but it wasn’t to be – first a delay caused by shipping issues from Europe, then followed by a change in covid19 guidance, meant that the project had to take a back step for the year.

Installing individual candles onto the facade of the Museum’s Windmill Tower

Fortunately since then, we’ve been able to build up the plans to host the event again this year – and finally, with a perfect evening, this temporary art installation took place. Each of the candles was hand placed on the many surfaces and edges of the Museum building by the installation team, and had to be taken down in the same careful manner to avoid damage.

The front steps of the Windmill Tower lit up at night. Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

Meanwhile, inside the Museum, specially opened for the day, were hosted crafting workshops with artist Helen Walsh creating felt robin tree decorations, inspired by the Victorian’s love of feathered friends in their festive greetings, and a series of puppet performances with Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre. The Jaggy Thistle Bistro also set up a pay-what-you-feel takeaway café for the afternoon, which completely sold out within hours!

The Tower illuminated, captured by Evie Copland

Marking one of the darkest days of the year, the Tower of Light came to life as the sun set – and was serenaded into the dark by the wonderful Cairn Chorus choir who stopped by to sing a collection of pieces. Visitors were invited to take a walk up through the Museum gardens, following light trails to view the artwork and look out over the town. Also visiting the site was Susi Sweetpea Fairy, who took the time to share stories, songs and conversations with those visiting. Over the course of the evening we welcomed 400 folk into the Museum grounds for a closer look and the opportunity to reflect on a challenging year and the New Year to come.

As part of the event, the Stove team gathered hopes and wishes for the year to come, which were all displayed on our Christmas tree – now available to view in The Stove Café – ranging from the poignant and heartfelt to playful and inspiring. In exchange,  craft packs were gifted out to take mini Museum’s home to decorate and hang on trees at home.

The moon making a star appearance. Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

The whole event was live streamed by Derry and Greg from the Battlestations crew, you can watch it back via our Youtube platform HERE and was also recorded using aerial footage by Stewart Gibson of Odin Aerial Solutions, see the beautiful film footage he recorder HERE

Stills captured by Stewart Gibson at Odin Aerial Soultions

As ever, these events can only take place with the hard work of the team and volunteers – special thanks to everyone who pitched in to make the Tower of Light happen, from cherry picker rescues, to guiding visitors around the site, hand lighting every candle to performing – the magic of moments like these is created by all those who contribute. Thank you! Special thanks also to the Museum’s team for all their support and trust throughout the project, and to DG Council for their support.

Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

Now what to do with 1,000 candles…

News Opportunities

Opportunity for Freelance Artists/Creative Practitioners in Dumfries and Galloway

The Stove has been asked by the Wheatley Group to help them find creatives in D+G to put themselves forward for grants of up to £5,000 to develop and deliver new projects with children and young people in the region. Wheatley is a national organisation for social housing in Scotland and they are working in partnership with Creative Scotland on this project.

In the first instance the project is looking for expressions of interest from creatives with an idea for a project that can help improve the skills, confidence and wellbeing of young people. Projects are to be delivered within a year (though do not need to last a whole year) and you do not need to specify a community you would work with as Wheatley will help connect artists to communities locally.

If you are interested, there is more information available here including dates for online information sessions.

Please email [email protected] to receive an application pack. Deadline 5th March

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