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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.


The Salty Coo Procession 2019

From Jordan Chisholm

“Wow! Nithraid 2019, you really were something else. I can’t quite believe I have to let go of you now; your procession has taken up many of my daily thoughts over the past few months.

This year you were unique, a little bit of a chancer, very salty and many of us learnt something new from you whilst asking important questions along the way.

I began to conceive the idea of the Nithraid 2019 procession when I was feeling inspired by what it means to “belong” alongside the want to work with different communities. I hoped for the procession to become a celebration of what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer, whilst creating a space for people to meet and connect with those they haven’t before. It is easy to believe that nothing ever happens here and question what there is to celebrate – but I believe that together we can do so much, so let’s try it.

Throughout June to the end of August, with support from the Blueprint100 team and The Stove Network, we contacted over 100 community groups from Dumfries and Galloway (yes, there really are that many!) encouraging them to make a banner in celebration of who they are, with a hope that they would then walk in our procession and become a part of the day. We had great fun throughout these workshops, and although challenged by the summer holidays, we met many new faces, conversed with people of all ages, heard many fascinating stories and connected with one another in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to before, whilst spreading the word about Nithraid and our Salty Coo.

“Pagan” means belonging or relating to a modern religion that includes beliefs and activities that are not from any of the main religions of the world (for example, the worship of nature). When I discovered this, I was keen to take this idea in to the procession. Imagine what the worship of community could look like. Imagine community as a religion. One which owns its own magic and is inclusive of all. I began to think more about where our beliefs come from, what Dumfries’ beliefs are, rituals and blessings; that is where much of the vision came from.With salt at the heart of this year’s overall Nithraid theme, it felt right to use this material as the source of action for the performers in the procession. Salt has many attributes, including being used for healing and sanctuary. Together, we spread salt throughout the high street in an offering of protection and safety for all our communities. Worshiping the place many of us call home. The 2019 Nithraid procession became a subtle disruption to a normal Saturday morning in Dumfries Town Centre. One which made people look twice as they walked on by. A moving image, a ritual, a blessing, a memory, an ephemeral moment, a discovery, many hearts and one community.

This experience was a huge collaboration from the very beginning to the very end and could not have been made possible without all those involved, including community groups, The Stove Network team, performers, musicians, costume designers, make-up artists, Salty Coo carriers and volunteers. I will never forget it.

Community is about doing something together, that makes belonging matter. We are community.

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due.”

Jordan Chisholm is an artist and a current member of the blueprint100 curatorial team.

Musings News

Welcome Jordan!

Hello! I’m Jordan – the new member of the Blueprint100 Curatorial Team and I am over the moon to have been offered this position.

I am originally from Edinburgh, but I moved to Dumfries in 2012 and have called it home since then. I am love with this town. I am in love with the river. I am in love with the possibilities this place holds. I am in love with the way it makes me feel. Like many, I want to make Dumfries a better place – because not everyone loves the place we call home and this feels unsettling. I am eager to create arts opportunities for young people across the region but most of all, I want to create a place in which we are not ashamed of.

For the last four years, I have been studying Contemporary Performance Practice (CPP) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), in Glasgow. I graduated in July with a First-Class Honours Degree and I still cannot quite believe that happened!

Glasgow, is my favourite Scottish city (at the moment anyway – I change my mind like the weather!!) I think it’s true what they say – people truly do make Glasgow and many of the things that happen there are so diverse and beautiful that I can see why people never leave.

For me, Glasgow was not all roses and rainbows. The course was tough (but also awesome and life-changing and thought-provoking and full of magic. I will be forever grateful to have had that experience, you can find out more about my course here:

I recognised in my third year that the fire that burns within me was dimming in the city. I didn’t feel like I was suited to living full-time in the bright lights and the busy streets. I guess, as cliché as this sounds, I was feeling lost and uncertain. I felt a yearning for something more, something that I wouldn’t feel like I was drowning in. I wanted to be a part of something, something I could change. Something where my voice was heard. Something where my arts practice would not go to waste, although I wasn’t entirely sure what that was yet. I didn’t realise that all I ever wanted was right in front of me – at home, in Dumfries.

Looking back, I wish I had known that these feelings were completely fine to be feeling. I put more pressure on myself at the time because everyone around me seemed to be on a different thought process and figuring out their arts practice and really “getting it” and I wasn’t. I began to experience some mental health issues and my course soon fell to the bottom of my priorities.

I love to party – that is still true today. But a couple of years ago, this became an escape mechanism for me and I never wanted the party to stop. I decided that I was going to leave the course at the end of third of year and not complete my honours. I did not care at all and although (spoiler alert!) that point of view came to bite me in the bum in fourth year (stressss!) I am not angry at myself for feeling like that because I know it was genuinely how I was feeling – and we should not beat ourselves up for our emotions, or else we are all doomed. It was a part of me figuring things out.

On my course, we do our dissertations in third year (instead of fourth, because our final year is full of other fantastic modules) so before leaving, I had to complete my dissertation. I am extremely interested in conversation and the way it is used to make and create art. I entitled my dissertation; Conversation as an art form – when is conversation art?

Cutting a very long story short, during this time, my mum became very unwell and my life really changed. I had to commit to being in Dumfries whilst juggling a dissertation and end of year show and a million other uncertainties and things were happening at once. It felt like the world was caving in and I have never felt so alone… but, as some person once said, when the going gets tough, the tough get going… and that’s what happened. I did a lot of growing up. I completed my dissertation, I completed third year, I became a carer, I overcame some heady stuff and cried loads and loads and loads. I’m actually crying right now as I type this! It’s good to cry though.

My mum made a miraculous recovery that has made me believe in angels and all things other. I knew I had to complete fourth year and entered my final year at RCS determined and ready. My mum and I even made a show together named Kin; a memory that I will cherish deeply for the rest of my life.

Right now, I am committed to community arts practice and particularly interested in the therapeutic role of creativity; my ongoing work resides in community development. I am determined that if we all take a little more time to care for each other and the place in which we live, we will begin to feel much more connected to each other, contributing to better mental health.  I hope that my Blueprint100 journey allows me to implement this and I look forward to (hopefully) being a part of your journey too.

So, that’s a little bit about me! If you want to get in touch, I would love to hear from you! My email is [email protected]

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