Categories
News Opportunities

Beauty in the Broken: Call Out for Community Gardeners

As part of Atlas Pandemica, local artist Peter Smith is seeking local people to become ‘gardeners’ in the town.

‘Beauty in the Broken’ is a project which has been commissioned by The Stove as part of ‘Atlas Pandemica: Maps to a Kinder World’, which uses creative ways to chart the changes that have happened around us recently and to try and navigate the way forward into a more hopeful and shared future.

Peter Smith is a Dumfries based artist who works in fields of interactive art and wood-based sculpture and design.

Peter has created a series of Zen Gardens that will be placed around the town and is looking for a people to volunteer to tend the gardens over the three weeks they are in situ.

The project looks at the way in which Covid-19 may have broken us, but there is always an opportunity to repair in a new, beautiful way. We don’t try to hide these breaks and damage, but we repair our town and community – creating something unique and powerfully beautiful.

Peter sees this project as a social ‘Kintsugi’ – a method of repairing broken things in a way that embraces flaws and imperfections – worked out through the mindful practice of rock gardens.

The gardeners will regularly tend a set of sand and rock gardens throughout Dumfries every morning for 10-20 minutes. Rocks are placed on the field of sand and rakes are used to mark patterns and shapes into the sand. They will then be left for the day and a new design created the following day.

This opportunity is open to anyone – you do not need to have any gardening experience or experience in the creative industries. The gardens will go live over a 3-week period, from 18th January to 7th February 2021. The only requirement is availability every morning for 10-20 minutes during the 3-week period and to be able to carry some hand tools. The project looks to include a diverse mix of people from the local community.

If you would like to volunteer or for further information, please email ptr.a.smith@gmail.com.

The deadline to get in touch is Monday 14th December at 12 noon.

For more information on Atlas Pandemica, please click here.

Categories
Musings

Quarter-Life Crisis: Where was Martin Joseph O’Neill 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.

This time around, I spoke with Stove curatorial member Martin O’Neill. Martin is a Dumfries-based artist, writer and producer and hosts The Stove’s monthly open mic night, Brave New Words. Looking back at his 25th year, Martin reflects on leaky flats, cats and the power of language.

 

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

I’m a multi-disciplinary artist, writer and producer who’s trying to find a less pompous way of describing himself.

I live in Dumfries, born and bred.

As a ‘practice’, I’m interested in spaces, people, stories and inviting the imagination in. I’m sort of all over the place in that. But it’s usually about telling, and inviting the stories, that are often unheard, undervalued, or underappreciated. I also want people to have fun and share unique experiences together, even if it’s not in the way that I might have planned or predicted. All the better if that’s the case.

 

You were 25 between 2015 and 2016 There’s a lot going on in the world in 2020, but what was happening in 2015 and 2016? What’s the biggest news event you can remember from this time?

I can’t really recall what happened last week, so five years ago is sort of like a half-remembered dream, foggy snapshots of bad lager, cash in hand jobs, leaky roofs and 3AM jam sessions. That said, I cheated, and a quick Google search reminds me that the atrocious Charlie Hedbo attacks in Paris happened in January of that year and 2016 brought with it a new raft of misery in Brexit, Trump, the death of David Bowie and the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando. I remember quite vividly the news of the shootings in Orlando. As a gay man, this was particularly devastating. Shaking me to my core, it brought with it a stark reminder of the work yet still needing to be done in the fight for LGBT rights across the world, and a shiver that it could well have been me in that room.

Where were you living? Who with?

I was sharing a leaky 3 bed flat with two female musicians at the time. And a cat. And then several more cats (she had kittens).

 

Did you have a job? What was it?

I had started as a CT member at the Stove Network in, I believe, May/June of 2015. I was also working 7 days a week in the magnificent Coach & Horses.

 

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

Mostly everything I did at that time in my life was pretty public, either in a desperate attempt at notoriety or just the nature of what I was up to. Gigs, Brave New Words, installations, it was all there in the public domain, and still is, in all their amateur glory thanks to social media. Some awful graphic design was done in that time. And poetry. Bad, bad poetry.

 

What was your dream job at the time?

Whatever it was, it was usually about wanting to tell stories, so whether that meant being a poet, novelist, folk musician or dramatist, it revolved around that constant need to keep writing. I was also beginning to explore my practice as a visual artist and designer. At the time, I was way too conscious of the ‘27’ Club. Not so much for the untimely tragedy that befell them, but how much, and the quality of the work, their elite members had achieved in the time it took me to get a flat, find some steady paid work and land the occasional gig for extra cash.

 

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

The first Brave New Words. A really special night where some mad idea that folk might want to hear poetry together actually paid off. Who’da thunk?

 

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?

To my 25 year old self: You should be writing.

My 25 year old self to me now: You should be writing.

 

 

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

 The last five years are such a blur of anxiety and chaotic thinking, that any thought of where I’d be in five years was clouded by some self-imposed pressure to complete something so short-term I can’t even recall what it might have been. Turning 30, that pressure seems to have eased off a little bit. You never do your best work when you’re worried about how you might be perceived. It’s better to just get on with it. And if it fails, move on, fail better.

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

Too many to name. Mostly to do with poor communication. Mostly every problem is down to that. Just make sure you’re on the same page as others.

 

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

It’s not that far away from me so take this with a pinch of salt, I’m barely 30 as it is! But I suppose there’s an energy in your mid-twenties that’s really powerful, especially when you’re working with other, often older, more experienced people. You’re questioning, provoking, challenging and you’ve all the time in the world.  And that is so important. Be loose. Be creative. Make the mistakes and don’t overthink everything. But be mindful of others lives. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Everywhere. Also, language is a really powerful thing. Don’t let others use it to disempower you or make you feel small. But also, don’t play into those hands in thinking that is the ‘norm’ and adopting those same bad behaviours, it’s not, and it’ll bite you in the ass one day. Make sure to step outside of yourself every once in a while. There’s a whole world of lives herein, allow yourself to be passive. That’s when the best ideas come.

Categories
News Project Updates

Speeding Backwards: Kyna Hodges

by Kyna Hodges

As part of the ‘Speeding Backwards’ project there was to be a woman’s build weekend. The weekend was to help plan and construct a bicycle trailer that will house a dark room and equipment for taking photographs using the wet plate collodion process (you can learn more about this here) The build up to the weekend was nerve racking, still the questions of ‘Can we? Can’t we?’ floating aground with the restrictions seeming to change daily.

But the day finally arrived, food planned and workshop laid out! On the first day Emily Tough, Beck Tucker and Myself all got to know each other and then went into the workshop to get to know the tools. One of the most empowering things as a woman learning construction can be understanding the use of tools and what they can do. It gives you an idea of what is possible and how. We applied the tools to the task of creating a box that we designed and began to execute. I took portraits of the interns using the wet plate collodian process that the trailer is destined to house.  

 On the second day our female builder Alice Francis arrived and we set to work looking at how to construct the trailer, it was so inspiring being around all these different creative and problem solving minds. When having meals together it helped to cement us as a group and come at a problem with the same energy. After lunch we set about looking into the interns individual projects that they had been asked to prepare. The weekend ended on a high of everyone getting a start and insight into their own projects and the mass giveaway of tools!  

The next phases of the project are to complete the build and begin to contact primary schools about seeing them in the spring. This is when the other intern Faye McKellar will be joining to deliver educational workshops and create a slow moving wonderment down the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway. 

To learn more about Kyna Hodges’ practice, you can email her at kynahodges@hotmail.co.uk or visit her website https://kyna-hodges.com

Categories
Musings

Looking Forward / Looking Backward

By Hayley Watson.

It’s September already, and I’m still trying to pare away the feeling that this month is a fresh start – a miniature new year, though distinguished by routine, structure and peeled-from-the-packet stationery rather than Big Ben’s chimes, Auld Lang Syne and kisses. The thing is though, a year and a half out of education I’ve still ended up synchronising my ‘fresh starts’ with the end of summer. I’m not sure if this is by accident or coincidence (or, if you want to get philosophical, whether or not there’s even a difference). This time last year I’d just moved to Italy, and this year I’m in the process of moving back to Glasgow, which is a phrase I think I’ve said about a thousand times since I came back to Annan.

The recurring element of how my last five summers have ended, no matter what my plans have been, is suitcases I’ve stuffed my life into and usually an obligatory Ikea trip. The suitcase zippers burst a little along the edges, and anticipatory, so do I. This time around feels like it should be the same but I’m not so sure. Italy felt like an adventure, easy to romanticize. Working for shit pay and hopping from flat-to-flat takes a while to get old when there’s late summer heat and vino-tinto-tinted streets to meet you every time you finish a shift. And the last time I lived in Glasgow, I was a student – I don’t need to expand on why that combination worked.

Beginning my latest move to Glasgow comes in tandem with the end of my contract as blueprint100’s Associate Artist supporting its re-development. Working with blueprint100 this year, after my first experiences shaping its early structure and with four extra years of life behind me, has offered an opportunity to consider the continual motions of change we experience in early adulthood and how organisational support and belonging to a community can make it all feel a little bit more… easy. When I first started working with blueprint100 I was a teenager who’d just realised creative careers are possible, and now I’m an adult (I guess?) who’s a bit overwhelmed by just how many different ways there are to pursue creativity professionally.

A huge part of my role over the past few months has been consulting past blueprint100 participants on their experience and their professional and creative needs. Reflecting on how my own professional practice continues to evolve has been really interesting alongside speaking with other young adults going through the same process – I think we’re all very excited and very ready to take on creative careers, whether full-time or freelance or whatever else (the beauty of creative work is how flexible it can be). At the same time, we’re now living through a pandemic. One excited hand locks fingers with a frustrated/confused/kind of scared one. It’s been comforting for me to understand how similar our feelings and our needs are at this stage of our lives, and this has reaffirmed how important it is – at any stage of life, but especially during the ‘uncertain’ ones – to feel like you’ve got a community behind you.

Community, then, has been a core theme that needs to be considered as part of blueprint100’s identity following our re-development this year. As blueprint100 moves forward, its membership will be re-integrated into The Stove, as it was in its very early days. As part of The Stove, we’ll be centred on creative opportunities that are community-focussed – in alignment with The Stove’s own mission. I started writing this not wanting to mention the pandemic at all (I’ve already failed) but after 2020 I really do think isolation of any kind is the last thing any of us want – including in our creative practices. For a lot of the people I spoke to, myself included, it was blueprint100 & The Stove which introduced us to working creatively in a way that might just possibly make this region feel like the exciting place you want it to be. For a lot of us again, this is something that continues to direct our creative practices. It’s an approach that’s fresh and unique when you’ve previously only experienced creative opportunities which focus exclusively on yourself and the development of your skills as an individual.

Alongside community-focused practice, the future of blueprint100 is one of building an inclusive and accessible creative community. If you’ve spoken with me at all since June when I started the initial consultations, I’ll probably have mentioned ‘accessibility’ and ‘inclusivity’ so much its borderline annoying. I’m pretty sure the words are even on my CV. That’s fine though. I believe, especially where the arts are concerned, accessibility and inclusivity can’t be taken into account enough. Throwing yourself into creative spaces when you’re not even totally sure of your identity as a creative practitioner yet is hard! And there are barriers as well to even claiming this identity alone – if you’re working in a bar 5 days a week, tired when you’re not working, and the total amount of time you can dedicate to even thinking creatively amounts to like, maybe an hour here and there, it’s difficult to feel as though you’ve got any sort of creative identity at all.

By establishing a community of young creatives in the region – whether online or eventually in the real world – we can learn that actually, wherever we’re at right now is fine, and its normal. This doesn’t mean we all need to be in the same positions, but rather that we can see creative careers don’t tend to happen in a smooth, linear, get-a-degree-then-do-a-grad-scheme way. Accessibility and inclusivity within this community should go beyond just being buzzwords. It’s making sure people feel able to speak up and even interrogate its structure without possessing 4 years’ worth of art school language. It’s shaping the opportunities within it to suit its members, rather than the reverse. It’s creating access to the space and tech to get work done because maybe you can’t get a quiet space at home. It’s knowing that maybe you can’t swap shifts to get involved with something, but people get it, and other opportunities will still be there whenever you are. No judgment.

Something I’ve gained from re-evaluating blueprint100’s role in its participants creative and professional development is a better acceptance of my own. I mentioned earlier the vast means through which you can pursue a creative practice, and as much as I said this can be overwhelming it’s also been quite reassuring. Being able to work creatively full-time in the early stages of your practice is a position of privilege, or very good luck. As with many other positions of privilege, not possessing it can have some kind of weird stigma attached. I studied Fashion Design at uni, and felt guilty every summer that I chose not to try and get an unpaid London internship. In the first months after graduating I felt guilty for not applying to graduate jobs that would cover my commute costs and little else. Since then I’ve learned that honestly? I love fashion, but I love being able to eat and pay my bills even more. Van Gogh gets touted as an icon of ‘starving artist’-hood but its reductive to think his work would be any less beautiful if he didn’t have the struggles of simply surviving to deal with. Poverty is only poetic to people who’ve not experienced it.

I guess what I’m getting at with that paragraph is that actually, working full-time in a factory and part-time in a creative role has actually been pretty good. Tiring, but good. It’s totally possible to continue the trajectory of your career while earning enough to live, and day jobs really aren’t as bad as you’re led to believe when you’re still maintaining some sort of constructive creative practice. I originally wasn’t going to move back to Glasgow until I had like… my absolute dream first graduate job. I’ve since decided that it’s equally completely cool to take a 50/50 approach to building my career instead – I’m going to be working part-time in clothing manufacture again, and spend the rest of my time working creatively on a freelance basis. It’s pretty exciting, a little like dropping everything to move to the city and become an artist but with the added security of actually having a predictable income every month.

I seem to have a talent for taking these blog posts a lot further than they’re probably intended to go (blame lockdown and reduced opportunities for rambling to people in real life). If you need a tl;dr for this – blueprint100 has developed, grown, and changed in the past few months at a faster pace than it ever has before. I have too.

Categories
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
Musings Project Updates

Trying to keep to ‘creativity as usual’ during lockdown

Guest Post by community artist & Blueprint100 Member, Kirsty Turpie

I was invited by the Blueprint100 team at the beginning of the year to run the Tuesday night Open Studio sessions. Blueprint has always been supportive of new ideas and giving young artists opportunities to try things out so they were happy for me to bring something new to the table. This was a series of talks about ‘Buildings that housed vibrant artist communities’. Of course The Stove is a building that houses a vibrant artist community but I wanted to explore with the Blueprint100 members, similar vibrant communities from history and from around the world, to see what we could learn from them and be inspired by. So we did just that.

Open Studio Model Making Workshop with Thomas Logan

However in March just as I was about to hold the third talk and Open Studio, dun dun dun…we all know what happened next, Scotland went into lockdown and it was no longer possible to continue the sessions. So being creative and innovative folk, we decided to continue online (after all it was the new craze to go online!). Along with Katharine Wheeler of The Stove Curatorial Team and Stove IT and website whiz, Robbie Henderson, we created Online Rooms on the Blueprint100 website to offer members a place to go to stay involved, inspired and entertained.

I came up with four different rooms: talks, opportunities, creative pastimes and a members’ gallery. It felt really exciting to be able to continue what I’d started for Open Studio, but in a new format. It also provided an opportunity to add new sections to the website that would be really beneficial to members on top of doing the talks. I contacted the Blueprint members and asked them if they would like to exhibit their work in the members’ gallery and had a great response. It has always excited me how much young creative talent there is in Dumfries and Galloway, so to be able to help them to promote their work and show others a taste of the wonderful folk that come along to Blueprint felt great.

Online Rooms Promotional Graphic
A Promotional Graphic for Online Rooms which illustrates the layout of the main page

At the start of lockdown when I was setting up Online Rooms, I also found a lot of great resources on the creative websites that I follow on how to survive as an artist during lockdown. These resources included lists of remote job opportunities, funding options and general ways of keeping inspired and entertained. This was something that I thought would be really helpful for Blueprint Members so included it on Online Rooms.

For the talks on Online Rooms I shied away from doing live videos and went for pre-recorded. This not only took off the pressure for myself but gave everyone at home the option to pop on to the website and watch it whenever they liked. The talks that I did were about the Chelsea Hotel in New York, Outsider Artists, Artist Collectives and a Viewers Choice talk. So they were similarly about vibrant artist communities. I’m a big fan of watching documentaries so I tend to delve in to art interests in that way in my spare time, but doing these talks made me watch more of them, more often and do more reading too which was really enjoyable. I get so inspired and motivated by hearing about other artists and creative communities and I hope Blueprint100 members do too.

I’d definitely recommend making time every so often to look for some YouTube videos about your favourite creative interests, as it can lead you down new paths and find out new things about the art world that you never knew. I always felt motivated and inspired after doing the research, so I would suggest it as a great remedy to fixing creative blocks!

Overall I hope that the talks and resources on Online Rooms have helped Blueprint100 members to stay motivated, inspired and enthusiastic about creativity during lockdown.

This post was written by Community Artist & Blueprint100 Member, Kirsty Turpie

Categories
Musings

Thank you Blueprint100!

Our current Blueprint100 team, Jordan Chisholm, Kyna Hodges, Claire Bell and Blossom McCuaig are all coming up to the end of their year with us and we’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the team for all of their contributions this past year. It has been an incredible 12 months working with Jordan, Claire, Blossom and Kyna and we’re excited to see what the future holds for these talented individuals.

The current team have been reflecting on their time with the Stove and are sharing their highlights, their triumphs and what they have learned on their year-long journey with us.

Jordan Chisholm

After a 4 week university placement at The Stove, Jordan joined the Blueprint100 team in August 2018 for an initial 6 months and continued for a further year with the new Curatorial Team. Jordan’s practice stems from both an interest in care and a performance art background and is deeply rooted in having conversations.

“My time with blueprint100 and The Stove Network has been incredible. It has been testing, eye-opening, uncomfortable, safe, uplifting and warm. I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, to try and fail and try again and get some things right whilst learning how to respond to the things that don’t go how you once wanted them to.

Some highlights, for me, were being given the lead artist role for the Nithraid 2019 Salty Coo Parade; this project allowed me the opportunity to pay many young artists to contribute to this day (some from my own uni class, which felt liberating!)”

Read Jordan’s ‘Looking Forward’ blog post by clicking here.

Claire Bell

Claire joined the Blueprint team last year after hosting a series of Life Drawing classes as part of the Blueprint100 regular programme of activity. Claire’s creative practice is grounded in drawing and mark making, as she observes, captures and plays with these to uncover the hidden patterns and connections within.

“A big part of my experience, for me, has been the huge amount of varied learning experiences I have had; through getting involved with a great variety of events and activity. There was Nithraid, in which I assisted the running of workshops such as flag making, as well as making costumes for the procession, which I also took part in through the town centre. Other events I’ve contributed in both big and small ways, are: Drawing Queer, Behavin? Festival, Mental Health Week and our monthly ‘Open Studio’. Although brilliantly varied, this work was very different to previous experience I had had. I felt at times that my overall ‘journey’ lacked focus, however, I ultimately found such value in not thinking too much about ‘is this exactly what I want to be doing’ but just doing it anyway. I encountered so many interesting moments along the way and learned much more than I ever would have by staying with what I already knew.”

Read Claire’s ‘Looking Forward’ blog post by clicking here.

Categories
Musings

My Time with Creative Futures

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

Categories
News

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
Musings

Mentoring and Collaborative Learning: Nithlight

As part of this years Nithraid Festival, The Stove commissioned artists Emily Tough and Philip Mairs to create ‘Nithlight’, a temporary light and audio installation for the Mill Green to close this years event.

Artist, illustrator and Stove member Stephen Pickering joined the team to mentor and support Emily Tough’s role.

“My minor input was in the form of mentoring Emily Tough, who undertook part of the design and construction of the public art sculpture for this event. The mentoring process went surprisingly well, and Emily was quick to learn, and keen to use any newly learned skills. She had strong ideas on what she wanted and how the finished sculpture would look and function, I merely helped by filling in the missing practical knowledge and experience.”

“This mentoring was by no means a one way process and lively discussions took place both before and during the construction-fabrication stage. From Emily I learned some new approaches regarding the promoting of my own business, and gained considerable confidence in my ability to pass on existing personal skills and knowledge while making myself and my processes readily understood.”

The final build for Nithlight, included the installation and rigging of ‘sails’ on the Mill Green which became projection surfaces for the digital content created by Philip – the inspiration and collaboration of which more can be read here: https://thestove.org/nithlight-by-night-a-reflection/

Stephen’s first involvement with the Stove, was through organising and running a series of illustration workshops in partnership with illustrator Mark Toner. Stephen is an artist, maker and illustrator with a studio and workshop based in Nithsdale.

One of the exciting opportunities of the Stove’s Network is the potential for collaborative learning with artists, creatives and others across a whole range of ideas and projects. The skills and expertise existing across Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderful resource, and many of us have something to contribute to each other. In the future, The Stove hopes to become better at gathering, including and sharing this potential in our projects and works – keep your eyes peeled for information coming soon to Stove members.

If you are not a Stove member, and would like to become one, find out more here: https://thestove.org/membership/