Categories
Blueprint100 Musings

Quarter-Life Crisis: Where was Matt Baker at 25?

By Hayley Watson.

Feeling secure in your 20s is tricky at the best of times, and our generation are lucky to have a housing crisis, yet another recession and a global pandemic punctuating our continued ‘coming-of-age’ panic. Add a desire to pursue a creative career into the mix – if you’re reading this I don’t need to tell you how unstable this can feel because you likely already know – and you’ve got a recipe for a real headf…iasco. This interview is part of a series where I ask established creative professionals, people you and I might view as ‘real adults’, what they were doing at 25. I have my suspicions that they were probably as confused then as we are now and I’m determined to prove it.

To start this series off, I chatted with OG Stovie Matt Baker. Matt is a public artist, one of the Stove’s founding members and orchestrator within the Stove’s curatorial team. In this interview, he reflects on squatting in 90’s London, learning to trapeze, drinking expensive champagne for free alongside feral cats and (most importantly) finding value in your journey just as much as your destination.

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re at now..

I describe myself first and foremost as an artist – I have been on a long and varied journey in my practice but have made a living from my creativity since the mid 1990’s. I started out as a sculptor (having studied Architecture at uni and then getting an apprenticeship with a sculptor) and worked mostly on commissions. Gradually I became more and more interested in the way art projects involve people and how they can be a means for people to become more active and involved in their communities. I became more and more involved in what is often called ‘socially-engaged’ or ‘participatory’ art practice and eventually this led to me being one of the founders of The Stove Network in 2011. I am very proud to have been part of the Stove from the beginning and am constantly amazed by the way it continues to develop and support the growth of many creative people and play a part in the wider community of our region.

I live in the centre of Dumfries, by the river, and have a daughter called Marly who is at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee studying Fine Art. Talking to her about her artwork and developing practice is one of the greatest joys in my life.

You were 25 in 1990. There’s a lot going on in the world in 2020, but what was happening then? What’s the biggest news event you can remember from this time?

1990 was a year of great political instability – it felt like everything was falling apart. There were Poll Tax riots, prison riots, environmental protests, pitch battles at giant outdoor raves. Mrs Thatcher finally resigned….it felt like everything had to change. But somehow it didn’t and the Tories stayed in power for another 7 years!

Where were you living? Who with?

I was living in a squat in East London – it was an area of housing that was to be pulled down for a new motorway and full of creative people. It felt a very hopeful place until the police moved in to evict everyone – it was quite a battle. But there was no follow on plan and everyone dispersed 🙁

I was living with my girlfriend and other friends from uni – everyone had tried coming to London to get started in creative careers, but finding enough money to live was hard.

Did you have a job? What was it?

No, not really. I was doing odd jobs like deliveries, removals and short contracts with employment agencies to make a living. What was keeping me going creatively was volunteering as part of the team that was setting up Circus Space near Kings Cross. This was a training centre for aerial circus arts (trapeze etc). We converted an old bus garage into the centre. I learned rigging and trapeze and had a trapeze act with my girlfriend (we weren’t very good!).

Is there something you did when you were 25 that no one knows about?

The thing that really springs to mind was spending months with my girlfriend building a platform bed and decorating our room in the squat – we painted the whole floor with a perspective chequerboard pattern of red and green squares, it took forever and the house was demolished straight afterwards! But we kept the wood from the bed and built an outdoor toilet at the next place we lived – but that’s another story…

What was your dream job at the time?

What me and my girlfriend dreamed of was finding someone who wanted to buy and renovate a house in Spain. We figured that they could pay us to do the work for them and live in the house while the work was going on and I was going to make sculpture in between working on the house. Still sounds kinda nice!

If you had to choose one memory from your 25th year, what would it be?

We felt like we were a wee gang of eccentrics – an oasis of civilisation and creativity in a cruel and broken world. One of us worked in theatres in the West End and used to get given some of the props from shows – we had a beaded curtain that Vanessa Redgrave used to walk through every night. I had a job doing deliveries for a shop selling Champagne and the guy who ran it gave me bottles from time to time. That is what I remember: eating beans on toast, while drinking insanely expensive champagne, surrounded by theatre props and the feral cats that lived everywhere…whilst putting the world to rights and helping each other build our dreams for the future.

If you could tell your 25-year-old self one thing, what would you say? And what do you think your 25-year-old self would say to you?

I would tell my 25-year-old self to be braver about approaching people to help him realise his dreams – the world felt very scary and grown-up at that time.. what I didn’t realise is that ‘grown-ups’ remember being young and helping others is something that feeds their creativity too.

I suspect my 25-year-old self would have had a lot of questions about what I do now – I suspect I would have been concerned that I was compromising the purity of my art by being involved in so many other parts of the world other than just ‘true art’. I guess that is what I have found out is that art is everywhere, it is an attitude and set of values that can be brought to bear anywhere…there is no ‘true art’, just lots of different kinds of art and each has its value. But every creative person has to find their own journey and there are no right answers (I’d like to have told my 25-year-old self that too!).

Are you where your 25-year-old self thought you’d be now?

Absolutely not – my 25 year old self wanted to carve stone every minute of every day….even if he wasn’t actually doing that then!

We sometimes focus too much on success and forget how much our failures help us grow. What were your biggest failures from back then?

I utterly failed to move to Spain and build houses. I planned a massive theatre/circus/installation show with whoever would talk to me about it. It never happened. I won an architecture prize and at the presentation ceremony there were lots of famous architects who were looking for people to work with. I was so freaked out by the whole thing that I hid – I have often wondered how life could have been different had been brave enough to talk to some of those folk. But I have no regrets at all – I have been blessed to have a wonderful creative life and have met many amazing people on the way.

Finally, do you have any ‘words of wisdom’ for the 20-somethings reading this?

I think ‘keep going’ is the biggest thing. It is a cliché to say that this is a ‘marathon, not a sprint’…but it’s true. Also, don’t be too precious about every opportunity needing be 100% ‘right’. It is easy when you have a lot of time to think, to ‘overthink’ and talk yourself out of things because they might not feel perfect. You need to look at the wider impact of opportunities, not just what you personally will be doing, but who you might meet, the new skills you might learn. Think about yourself on a journey and you are collecting skills, tools and people on the way…then see any opportunity that comes along as part of that journey, rather than a destination. I still have absolutely no idea where I am going – but I’ve loved the journey so far and am committed to continuing to explore. A creative life is just one big experiment!

You can find out more about Matt’s past work on his website, https://mattbaker.org.uk

Categories
News Projects

Blueprint100 Looking Forward April – September 2020

Over the next few months, we’re taking some time to reflect on blueprint100. How can we grow and evolve the learning opportunities The Stove Network offers for young creative people, and by doing so, empower those and other young people to start professional careers within the arts?

It’s been 5 years since blueprint100 initiated itself as a coveted opportunity for young creative people through a self-led approach to professional development and active working experience within The Stove Network.

This is an approach to learning and professional development aimed at supporting young people across varied stages in their work and helping to build bridges both in and out of more formal structures and other types of work and experience.

As The Stove and blueprint100 have grown and changed rapidly over the past few years we feel it is a good time to take a deeper look at blueprint100 and the learning opportunities it provides as part of The Stove team.

Through a period of consultation and reflection we will evaluate and reshape our blueprint100 framework to ensure it meets the needs of our region’s young creatives giving them the right balance of support and freedom to develop.

For this reason we want to let you know that we will not be recruiting for another blueprint100 team this April 2020 but instead taking the space for this deeper consultation and evaluation. We will do this through a series of targeted workshops and one to one interviews with past blueprint100 curatorial team members, active participants and young creatives, creative groups and organisations and relative learning bodies and service providers.

The consultation will be lead by blueprint100 mentor Katharine Wheeler who will be supported by a young person within the blueprint age range (18-30).

Please stay tuned for more updates in the near future.

Categories
Events Music News Projects

Behavin’ Festival Programme Announcement!

A DIY micro-festival of performance, live art and music in an upside-down world is coming to Dumfries over the weekend of Friday 26th – Saturday 27th July, held on the High Street, The Stove, The Plaza and the Oven. Behavin’ is about new spaces, new worlds, radical gatherings and new work from the weirdest corners of the mind. In it’s inaugural year, Behavin’ explores play, permission and public space alongside a whole host of weird and wonderful projects and people.

All events and performances are free and open to the public. However, discretionary donations are welcome but by no means mandatory.Full programme below:

FRIDAY

Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…

To submit your work please contact martin@thestove.org

Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator

An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!

Brave New Words: Behavin Spectacular
7pm / The Stove Network
Theme: Behaviour 

For words spoken, sung, signed, shot or silenced. The Stove’s monthly open mic night returns for the inaugural Behavin’ festival opening extravaganza. Expect an evening of scintillatingly scandalous performances from local poets, musicians, filmmakers and performers from ages 8-80. Guest hosted by the spectacular Miss Behavin’. To sign up, arrive prompt for 7PM. Be Brave.

Free / BYOB

Saturday

Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…

To submit your work please contact martin@thestove.org

Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator

An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!

Broken Brolly’s by Charnah Watson
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

These broken brolly’s have been among the many unfortunate who have been subject to our dreich Scottish weather. Because of their misfortune they are quite frankly miserable and could do with some cheering up…can you help?

Dumfries Music Conference and The Plaza Presents: The World’s Smallest Music Venue
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street

Sit knee-to-knee with some of the finest local and national singer/songwriters in the world’s most intimate acoustic venue – The Plaza.
2 Chairs, 1 performer, 1 audience member, 1 unique experience.

Featuring: Ra, Prussia Snailham, Frozen Shores, Alix Apples and Flew the Arrow

Xing Yi: A Masterclass
12pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

Xing Yi Quan is classified as one of the Wudang styles of Chinese martial arts. The name of the art translates approximately to “Form-Intention Fist”, or “Shape-Will Fist”

In this introductory masterclass, tutor Felix Waterhouse will take you through all the essentials in this most fascinating and relatively unknown martial art.

Comfortable clothing recommended.

The Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo with Mackenzie Claperton
2pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

‘I ought to warn you that the author of this sick little play, Dario Fo, has the traditional, irrational hatred of the police common to all narrow-minded left-wingers and so I shall, no doubt, be the unwilling butt of endless anti-authoritarian jibes.’ (Inspector Bertozzo, Central Italian Police HQ)

A sharp and hilarious satire on police corruption, The Death of an Anarchist concerns the case of an anarchist railway worker who, in 1969, ‘fell’ to his death from a police headquarters window.

A re-imagining of the classic play by young performance artist and theatre-maker Mackenzie Claperton. Anarchists assemble…

Harm (Less) by Hannah Wright (16+)
4pm /The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.

What do memories weigh?
They can lift you up
They can break you down
They can scatter you
And shatter you into pieces
What is a memory?
Is it truth?

Harm(less) is an immersive and interactive performance, using film and spoken word to explore the topic of sexual assault and memory. Revisiting some of the milestone moments of her life, from that magical first kiss to the ones that are better forgotten,

Hannah explores how trauma affects memories by reflecting on fragments that are scattered throughout her conscious and unconscious mind.

The Behavin Manifesto: A Culinary Calamity
6pm / The Stove Cafe

Join us for dinner and drinks in the Behavin Lounge(Stove Café) and contribute to the Behavin Manifesto: a charter, a symbol and the starting gun of a radical movement in music, live art and theatre for Dumfries. Expect a culinary feast from the frivolous fancies of the resident anarchist chef.

Devine Tension: Intervention
8pm / Venue TBC
Book your place by clicking HERE.

Welcome…to the Haus of Tension.
You’ve been given an exclusive invitation to experience drag in the upside down, with Devine Tension.
‘INTERVENTION!!!’ Is a drag show turned love story, packed with camp visuals, spoken word, lip sync performance & some (sketchy) vocals. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Contains adult themes and strobe lighting.

Dae Somethin’: The Variety Showcase
9pm / The Oven

Dae Somethin’ – The Variety Showcase
Warhol’s Factory? Cabaret Voltaire? They were nothing on Dae Somethin’. A variety night featuring Extinction Rebellion, Steven Seagull & The Reguritators and you…yes, you…dae somethin’.

Sleeping in Space

10pm – 10am

Live out of town? Think you might miss the bus? No worries. We’ve a place for you to lay your weary head. Blueprint100 invite you to come stay in a safe space in the town centre. Get in touch for location details.
Sleeping Space is the first in an on-going calendar of sleepovers igniting conversations around regional transport, town centre living and access to the big events of Dumfries town centre. Lights out!

For more information and to book your space contact: jordan@blueprint100.co.uk
(please note booking is mandatory)

Categories
Events Music News Projects

Behavin' Festival Programme Announcement!

A DIY micro-festival of performance, live art and music in an upside-down world is coming to Dumfries over the weekend of Friday 26th – Saturday 27th July, held on the High Street, The Stove, The Plaza and the Oven. Behavin’ is about new spaces, new worlds, radical gatherings and new work from the weirdest corners of the mind. In it’s inaugural year, Behavin’ explores play, permission and public space alongside a whole host of weird and wonderful projects and people.
All events and performances are free and open to the public. However, discretionary donations are welcome but by no means mandatory.Full programme below:
FRIDAY
Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street
The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…
To submit your work please contact martin@thestove.org
 
Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator
An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!
 
Brave New Words: Behavin Spectacular
7pm / The Stove Network
Theme: Behaviour 
For words spoken, sung, signed, shot or silenced. The Stove’s monthly open mic night returns for the inaugural Behavin’ festival opening extravaganza. Expect an evening of scintillatingly scandalous performances from local poets, musicians, filmmakers and performers from ages 8-80. Guest hosted by the spectacular Miss Behavin’. To sign up, arrive prompt for 7PM. Be Brave.
Free / BYOB
 
Saturday
 
Phone Box Poetry
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street
The 21stCentury has played witnessed to a revolution in digital communication, yet in its wake has left the humble public telephone in ruin, a phantom of its former self. From the 26th– 27th, keep your ears open for what may well be the voice of the telephone speaking from its ghostly realm. Ring, ring…ring, ring…
To submit your work please contact martin@thestove.org
 
Press Play by Zoe Pearson
12 – 5pm / The Stove Elevator
An art-gremlin has set up home in the lift of 100 High Street. Each time you press play, the doors will open to a new improvised performance. Featuring spoken word, sounds, drawings, writing, miming, movement, costumes, and… well, who knows what!
 
Broken Brolly’s by Charnah Watson
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street
These broken brolly’s have been among the many unfortunate who have been subject to our dreich Scottish weather. Because of their misfortune they are quite frankly miserable and could do with some cheering up…can you help?
 
Dumfries Music Conference and The Plaza Presents: The World’s Smallest Music Venue
12 – 5pm / Dumfries High Street
Sit knee-to-knee with some of the finest local and national singer/songwriters in the world’s most intimate acoustic venue – The Plaza.
2 Chairs, 1 performer, 1 audience member, 1 unique experience.
Featuring: Ra, Prussia Snailham, Frozen Shores, Alix Apples and Flew the Arrow
 
Xing Yi: A Masterclass
12pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.
Xing Yi Quan is classified as one of the Wudang styles of Chinese martial arts. The name of the art translates approximately to “Form-Intention Fist”, or “Shape-Will Fist”
In this introductory masterclass, tutor Felix Waterhouse will take you through all the essentials in this most fascinating and relatively unknown martial art.
Comfortable clothing recommended.
 
The Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo with Mackenzie Claperton
2pm / The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.
‘I ought to warn you that the author of this sick little play, Dario Fo, has the traditional, irrational hatred of the police common to all narrow-minded left-wingers and so I shall, no doubt, be the unwilling butt of endless anti-authoritarian jibes.’ (Inspector Bertozzo, Central Italian Police HQ)
A sharp and hilarious satire on police corruption, The Death of an Anarchist concerns the case of an anarchist railway worker who, in 1969, ‘fell’ to his death from a police headquarters window.
A re-imagining of the classic play by young performance artist and theatre-maker Mackenzie Claperton. Anarchists assemble…
 
Harm (Less) by Hannah Wright (16+)
4pm /The Stove Network, Room 2
Book your place by clicking HERE.
What do memories weigh?
They can lift you up
They can break you down
They can scatter you
And shatter you into pieces
What is a memory?
Is it truth?
Harm(less) is an immersive and interactive performance, using film and spoken word to explore the topic of sexual assault and memory. Revisiting some of the milestone moments of her life, from that magical first kiss to the ones that are better forgotten,
Hannah explores how trauma affects memories by reflecting on fragments that are scattered throughout her conscious and unconscious mind.
 
The Behavin Manifesto: A Culinary Calamity
6pm / The Stove Cafe
Join us for dinner and drinks in the Behavin Lounge(Stove Café) and contribute to the Behavin Manifesto: a charter, a symbol and the starting gun of a radical movement in music, live art and theatre for Dumfries. Expect a culinary feast from the frivolous fancies of the resident anarchist chef.
 
Devine Tension: Intervention
8pm / Venue TBC
Book your place by clicking HERE.
Welcome…to the Haus of Tension.
You’ve been given an exclusive invitation to experience drag in the upside down, with Devine Tension.
‘INTERVENTION!!!’ Is a drag show turned love story, packed with camp visuals, spoken word, lip sync performance & some (sketchy) vocals. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.
Contains adult themes and strobe lighting.
 
Dae Somethin’: The Variety Showcase
9pm / The Oven
Dae Somethin’ – The Variety Showcase
Warhol’s Factory? Cabaret Voltaire? They were nothing on Dae Somethin’. A variety night featuring Extinction Rebellion, Steven Seagull & The Reguritators and you…yes, you…dae somethin’.
 
Sleeping in Space
10pm – 10am
Live out of town? Think you might miss the bus? No worries. We’ve a place for you to lay your weary head. Blueprint100 invite you to come stay in a safe space in the town centre. Get in touch for location details.
Sleeping Space is the first in an on-going calendar of sleepovers igniting conversations around regional transport, town centre living and access to the big events of Dumfries town centre. Lights out!
For more information and to book your space contact: jordan@blueprint100.co.uk
(please note booking is mandatory)
 
 
 

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).

Ice Hockey World Championships Welcome Day

Come and celebrate with us (in proper Doonhamer fashion), the Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships! We’re going all out with food and drink inspired, curated and hand-picked from the visiting countries, featuring entertainment from ‘Salsa Dumfries’ as well a whole host of local musicians. 10% discount for all ticket holders, volunteers and players (excluding alcoholic beverages).