By Mark Zygadlo
I offer my reflections on a couple of aspects of the mustering to mark the reopening of 100 High Street, Dumfries on the 29th May 2015.
First, the building is just a building; open or closed. The Stove, on the other hand, has never been away. However, the resumption of 100 High Street is a cause for celebration because, occupied by the Stove, the building becomes a symbol, a statement of intent, a declaration in the heart of the town redolent with possibility.
These are carefully chosen words. When you get to be an old Stovie like me you can laugh in the face of cool and bravely speak of sentiment, and for this I take my lead from Moxie who put her wares gently on the table at the re-opening and slid under the radar to remind me, at any rate, that to be anything meaningful, an artist not least, you have to be a human being first. This was cleverly done. Addressed obliquely and full of ambiguity, her condimental list invoked the mysterious nine tenths. Elementary my dear Moxie, fundamental.
Onward, the mugs. Whisked back to my first days at art school longer ago than even my new bravery wants to consider; messing about with a process I couldn’t quite handle, yet desperate for my mug somehow to transcend its mugginess and become art, then not caring if it did or… hang on – I love that browny orange, let’s get some more of that… The noise level, the concentration, the babies… what’s going on? Is this a family or something?
Thanks to a shock resistant bottle and the shock absorbing qualities built into the fabric and spirit of the old Stove, useful qualities against the vicissitudes of the future, the sledgehammer of the young Stove finally cracked it. “Jules, fetchez la vache,” comes to mind for some reason. A phrase so poignant for an old Nithraider that I include it despite its irrelevance. So what? So what? So what? John Dowson, the only other resident of the High Street, told us what. The making of history, he said, quite rightly. Now, here’s a thing and it’s one of my favourite things: life is lived forward but looked at backwards. History is the backward view, a mash-up of memories, archives, documents, photographs and of course the way we have shaped the environment, it’s all history. But the making of history is the process of living, of doing, making things happen and changing the place we live in.
Good definition of the Stove.