Support Us
News Project Updates

HAME. 2nd-16th May 2015


By Gerard McKeever

It’s easy to forget just how extraordinarily important the places where we live are. They are our frame, our point of reference, a huge portion of the real detail of life. This capacity of the land to shape us takes on a special dimension when we have either lived somewhere for a very long time, or spent the early years of our life there. I was born in Upper Nithsdale and spent the best part of two decades in the area before leaving for the city. It is a familiar narrative: the draw of study, work and a faster pace of life. Yet as a creative person I am increasingly aware of the consequence of D&G in my thought processes, a language of place through which much of my work is communicated. Because of this, and because of a longstanding ambition to return to the region, Mark Lyken and Emma Dove’s recent Hame installation for The Stove Network resonated for me.

Perhaps one reasonable working definition of Art could be: a community talking to itself about itself. This was a fascinatingly literal instance of that process, with audio clips of people discussing their relationships contextualised against meditative imagery of the area. Seeing the places we know celebrated and examined in this fashion makes them more real and more vital. It is a process of validation through which both the bonds and the divides in our community are exposed. The installation made us question which voices were included and which were not – whose particular home was being offered a platform?


On a formal level, the piece made use of the suggestive space of 100 High St., succeeding in creating a feeling of audience participation through its non-linear looseness. At the risk of straining the point, wandering around the multiple levels of the installation captured something of the jagged, contingent nature of our existence in place. If and when the piece is transposed into a linear production it will be no doubt engaging but very different, precisely calibrated as it was to radiate from the town centre. Lyken and Dove took us through a mixture of voices that spoke with the random authority of community. From recollections of a previous era to the impressions of youth, for two weeks the Stove became an open archive of shared experience. Just as ‘hame’ doesn’t quite mean the same as ‘home’ to me, all the little details and nuances of life in D&G have a particular shading. It was this odd quality of rootedness that the installation did so well to elaborate. Fortunately, Hame was also too stylish to fall into the tourist information or museum exhibit traps which a piece of its nature must face.

The Stove is a commendable effort to further invigorate a growing community of creative people in and around Dumfries, and in doing so contribute to the salvage of the town centre. As one of the many young locals living elsewhere but with half an eye on home, I find projects like this encouraging. Alongside the growing number of music festivals in the region, the successes of Spring Fling and other arts events, D&G seems to be building towards a creative critical mass, a blossoming that is being noticed on a national level. Perhaps we don’t need to look so far away after all, if we have these things at hame.


Images © Colin Tennant

News Project Updates

HAME. New work by resident artists Mark Lyken & Emma Dove

We’ve been artists in residence with The Stove for 5 months and are now in to the final month before our film and sound installation HAME opens on 2nd May as part of The Stove’s Open House series of events to mark the launch of 100 High St.

HAME explores relationships to Dumfries and Galloway through the words of those who call it home. During our time working here we have been very privileged to record conversations with over 45 people throughout D&G and guided by these conversations have gathered footage around the area from our trusty Black Cab, chauffeured by the excellent Will Marshall. Our experience, perspectives and knowledge of D&G has gradually mutated and transformed through these conversations and our own explorations.

Filming at the Dalveen Pass. Images © Will Marshall.

We have been recalling when we first moved here from Glasgow, following the Sat Nav to our house, exploring our own street and seeking directions to the shop. Journeys through the unfamiliar have gradually become dotted with reference points – places we’ve passed through, stopped to film or interview someone. Names of towns and villages that previously floated in an imaginary space now slot in to their geographical location. Buildings, bridges, trees and rivers that were once void of meaning now sprout stories and conjure images.

A few of the significant places marked by interviewees.

Through the process of filming and recording whilst journeying through the area we have become more acutely aware of its rhythms and the interconnecting threads of feelings, memories and knowledge of those living both within it and thinking on it from afar.

We have heard stories of everything from ancient stone markings in Eggerness to hiding places at Annan harbour to recollections of a Palmerston football match in 1958. There have been childhood dens, daredevil antics and trees that sprouted chocolate biscuits. Grub-collecting hot spots, smelly spots and “J” spots. Bad corners, best views, secret beaches and spooky ruins.  Sunday mass in a chip shop, raves in a woodland, and the 2am ‘accidental’ purchase of a stretch limo in a pub. We’ve learned how to appropriately pronounce ‘Kirkgunzeon’ ‘Caerlaverock’ and ‘Red Cola’, have finally worked out the parking system in Dumfries and we now know how to find anyone’s house in D&G (over the wee bridge, round the bend and up the hill).

Interview with Denise & Mark Zygaldo
Interview with Denise & Mark Zygaldo

As ever, the more we explore, the more questions arise, layers of perspectives overlap, clash and muddle, and the more we realise we do not know. Yet through this has developed a kinship and a care. And this seems to be the binding thread connecting everyone that we have spoken to. Everyone, in one way or another, genuinely cares.

Perhaps what has most surprised us though is how the process of the last few months has changed our own perspectives so much so that we now feel at home here ourselves and are on the look out for a place to stay beyond the project (you know the place – over the wee bridge, round the bend and up the hill?).

We hope you can make it along to the opening of HAME, 2nd May and look forward to seeing you there!

Emma & Mark
Dalbeattie, March 2015
Previous project blog posts:
New Stove Artists in Residence. Guest Blog Alert
Taxi to Dumfries? 

Skip to content