Support Us

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…


Nithlight by Night, a Reflection

By Philip Mairs

With the theme of this years Nithraid festival being salt and ritual – including salt’s local, historical and mythical uses – we thought of a way to combine all three of these things into something that could form the basis of Nithlight.

Nithlight 2019

Upon finding out about the Celtic connection to the history of salt in the South-West Scotland region, we thought about using vibrational acoustic-phenomena to create patterns in the element of salt. A lot of these patterns appear surprisingly Celtic. For the Celts, the Earth and its elements, including all water and salt, were sacred.This idea was made possible by using a vibrating metal ‘Chladni’ plate, so called because following the pioneering experiments of Robert Hooke in the 1600s, it is the German physicist Ernst Chladni’s name that became most associated with these figures.

We set about filming the patterns emerging on our own plate, with the intention of beaming the projection over a maze of ship masts.

The ship masts were to replicate an old galleon ship, used for trading in the 1700’s. We then began to extend this narrative out by introducing reworked old seaman’s recipes and orientating our soundscape around water, grainy sounds and symmetrical patterning. We also wanted to give context to the projected video, and so thought that having the source for the images on site in an ‘obelisk’ type structure that people could sing into in order to create patterns themselves would be compelling; creating an immediate connection between creation and content.

Despite it looking like the event might have to be called off due to the Scottish summer in full flow, the event went ahead as planned. The ship sculpture provided an intriguing backdrop to people (and the occasional animal) singing and howling into the microphone, often watching patterns emerging as they would do so.

The feeling of old seafaring was enhanced by the provision of the some of the only kinds of food and drink that would last on voyages- in this case those being hard, salty biscuits; along with homemade ginger beer.

We also enjoyed the workshop we hosted earlier on in the day, where we were able to give people an up-close experience of Cymatics, from one of its original methods- bowing of metal plates with a violin bow; to one of its more recent related developments of the plate being driven by a loudspeaker. ___

Nithlight was a commission as part of Nithraid 2019, led by artists Emily Tough and Philip Mairs. The commission was supported by The Holywood Trust.

All image credits: Jamie Thomson, see his Facebook page here for details.


D-LUX invites Dumfries to PLAY BIG in the town centre!

D-LUX Festival of Light will return to Dumfries Town Centre for their third annual event, and this time they are taking video games out of the house and on to the High Street! The event runs from 31st January to 2nd February and will have a focus on the gaming industry, aiming to bring interactive storytelling to Dumfries.

D-LUX brings warmth, light and curiosity into Dumfries Town Centre at the darkest time of the year, where artists explore new ways of illuminating the darkness. For 2019, D-LUX want to celebrate gaming culture and bring it to the High Street. The games industry is now bigger than Hollywood, the audiences are bigger, the ambitions and bigger, the budgets are bigger; and Scotland is rather good at making them!

‘Our Moon’ projected in the town centre as part of the Burns Night Parade.

D-LUX intends to light up the town with large-scale video projections of much loved and retro video games, as well as illuminating sides of buildings and shop windows with stories that are normally shared at home. All the games will be played live, and you can take part and play the games or just wander through the town and watch!

D-LUX will creative a collision of the public realm with interactive digital storytelling. Some stories are white knuckle rides of pure adrenaline and jeopardy, some are staggeringly beautiful role-playing games taking place in distant Galaxies, some are digital communities building alternative models of society. All are part of our contemporary world and D-LUX want to bring them into the heart of Dumfries. They hope that by bringing what is often private into public display, they will be able to show the community of Dumfries what opportunities might be available to young people in the gaming industry in a playful and entertaining way.

The Oven lit up as part of the ‘Whose Hoose Is This’ Project with the Midsteeple Quarter.

To explore the gaming culture in Dumfries, D-LUX have commissioned avid gamer Peter Bain to be their Community Engagement Officer. He believes the most exciting part of the project is the community element, going on to explain that the gaming industry has been shifting more and more in favour of online gameplay, and while that global connectivity has its benefits, there’s still something to be said for keeping it local. “I’d much rather play a game with a friend sitting across the room than across the country or even the planet. Scaling that experience up for the whole town and creating a visual extravaganza on the High Street sounds to me like a lot of fun!”

D-LUX will take place across several locations over 31st January to 2nd February. All events are free and will be on from dark until late. If you would like to be involved or to keep up to date with their events, visit their website here: or find ‘D-LUX’ on Facebook.

For 2019, D-LUX is sponsored by Mark Jardine of Jardine Funeral Directors.

Passers by play with the lights in the town centre as part of ‘Town Centre Illuminations’.

D-Lux Festival Lights Up Dumfries

Last month, the first D-Lux Festival of Light came to Dumfries as part of the Big Burns Supper, bringing warmth, light and curiosity into the town centre at the darkest time of the year. A collection of artists were commissioned to explore new ways to illuminate the darkness, showing that light festivals play an important part in regenerating town centres, and making people think differently about the place in which they live.

D-Lux Festival of Light - Big Burns Supper

D-Lux is a unique partnership with Jardines Funeral Directors. D-Lux have matched their investment with an award from Arts and Business Scotland; an independent Scottish charity who help to nurture the creative, social and commercial relationships that will enrich creativity and cultural engagement across Scotland.

As well as focusing on re-lighting the town centre, D-Lux Festival commissioned a number of artists to bring light installations to Dumfries throughout the week, delighting audiences with performances and engaging participations, and focusing efforts in the heart of the town in front of the Midsteeple.

Artists Kate Drummond and Hannah Fox, also known as Ida Glimmer and Ava Shimmer, were thrilled to be bring ‘Delight’, their ‘constellation cart’ to Dumfries last month. This double act, with their beautiful illuminated ice cream van, portrayed magical shadow puppet stories that brought a little light and a warm glow to the streets.

Dead Famous Carnival

Throughout the week, the Bakers Oven hosted Concursum; an association of three alternative photography practitioners and artists, Laura Rhiannon Peters, Andrew Billington and Patrick Ballanger. They mainly specialise in a demanding and often temperamental 19th century process called Wet Plate Collodion which requires the pictures to be developed there and then. The process was used to make unique image objects called tintypes, and the pictures they took also appeared in the windows of the town centre over the course of the week.

D-Lux Festival of Light - Big Burns Supper

D-Lux celebrated the lives of artists lost in the last year with their event, ‘Dead Set’. Taking place at The Stove, in association with Blueprint100, the evening featured performances from local musicians as well as a discussion from Dr Sandy Whitelaw from the world leading ‘End of Life Studies’ department of Glasgow University based in Dumfries.


A commission from the Stove Network will saw the second artwork in a series entitled ‘Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain’. This interactive installation combined poetry, projection and film, from artists Colin Tennant and Martin Joseph O’Neill.


Artist, Jo Hodges, brought her commission ‘Angels’, to Dumfries town centre as part of the festival of light, where members of the public spotted Angels appearing in unlikely places throughout the town towards the end of the week.

News Project Updates

Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain

Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain is a project between artists Martin  Joseph O’Neill, Colin Tennant and composer and musician Stuart Macpherson. First conceived as a short poem MSMR has since moved onto include a series of artworks and interventions throughout the High Street and side streets of Dumfries town.

IMG 6463

Come Dawn, a 12 hour writing project from 7PM to 7AM took place at the Bakers Oven in November. A performance installation, the writer sat typing whilst in real time, the words were projected onto the windows of the empty unit in front of a live audience.


Working from a manuscript of 60 pages the collective were commissioned by the D-LUX Festival of Light to produce an artwork showcasing one of the poems to be projected behind the Stove. The artwork deployed Burroughs’ cut-up method of writing in a live performance lasting four hours, four nights a week, where a single poem was transformed continuously by adding and subtracting the words, manually blocking the light of the projector through a window using paper and tape.


The regional project is inspired by the narratives of the small town at night and is to continue throughout the year in installations, performances and interactive artworks throughout the town.


Midnight Streetlight Smalltown Rain was a Stove Members project, supported by DG Unlimited and the Dumfries and Galloway Council.


In Flight

Both birds and humans have migrated for millennia, whether seeking more abundant food, or more favourable climates. Some of these journeys are regular and temporary, others more permanent, perhaps due to catastrophe or dreams of a achieving a better life elsewhere.
Currently Europe is seeing a huge influx of migrants and –stoked by the vitriol of a malicious press and an ugly political mood – it’s becoming alarmingly commonplace to consider our fellow human beings as pests, no matter how urgent their need for shelter and security. Our individual and collective capacity to help them remains largely unfulfilled.
Perhaps it would be useful to imagine a scenario where we are the migrants – climate change predictions (irrespective of whether it’s a natural cycle or mans interference at the root cause) suggest there won’t be many decades before this becomes a reality. Arguably it already is, with people displaced from their homes from the increasingly damaging floods we experience in the UK.


In Flight itself depicts both birds and people; in the end we are the same, following evolutionary paths birthed in the stars. Fluttering on the wind, lit by the sun and moon, refreshed by the falling rains, the intermingling of the white birds and the people offers a prayer of peace and love to our family in need across the globe.
The location of the installation is an unused close in Dumfries and the first work will be to clean it, to prepare a welcoming space for the flock. Experimental and expressive, the artwork will only fully take shape upon completion.

In Flight will take place during our Chapter One event on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th November, in a nearby close. For details of where to find the work drop into the Bakers Oven and ask for directions. Full details about Chapter One available here

In Flight has been created by artist and photographer Morag Paterson. More details about her work available here

Skip to content