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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


My first year as Public Art Project Worker with Creative Futures

by Kirsty Turpie, December 2018

I began the position of Public Art Project Worker with Creative Futures Lochside and Lincluden in January this year. I was involved in the project last year as a Trainee Creative Producer, which seen me support Public Artists and attend community events. I really enjoyed being a Trainee Creative Producer so when the chance arose to become employed in this line of work I was excited and ready for it.

My challenge…to get residents in North West Dumfries engaged in Public Art projects. I was raring to go, and set up a weekly drop in at the Creative Futures hub under the name of Art in Action. The drop in ran for 5 weeks, and there were 5 local residents attending. We looked at local and international artists and public art examples and created small sculptures.

The name Art in Action has stuck and I have took it on the road to Lochside gala, a pop-up gazebo workshop in Lochside, Lochside and Lincluden Primary Schools and Nithraid.
One of the main projects I’ve been focusing on is the revamp of the Lincluden rhino statue. After research and consultation it was decided that I would offer the community a chance to create a new colourful look for the base of the rhino through the medium of mosaics. And, oh, have I fallen in love with them! I got up to speed on the mosaic techniques fast so that I could bring them to the public. In order to provide the mosaic workshops I had to do some preparation of ordering materials and experimenting. I’ve really enjoyed this part of the job. My background is in Graphic Design so I haven’t had too much opportunity in the past to work with large scale materials. So having to phone up builders yards, go to collect large pieces of wood and tile grout and having to use power tools to cut the wood to size have all been new and exciting responsibilities.

Kirsty and some of the team behind the new mosaics for the Lincluden Rhino

Another project that I have taken on through this position is the Lochside Primary School commemoration sculpture. This project has been a great opportunity to connect with the community on an ongoing basis and understand how to portray their ideas and history. In May I began working with the primary school pupils to design a totem pole featuring their memories of the school and it’s history since opening in 1962. It was lovely to hear the children’s memories and see them using paint and collage to get them down on paper. Back at the Creative Futures hub I drew up the final design comprised of six cement shapes to represent each era the school has been open. Mosaics would also be used in this design to create the children’s drawings and patterns and give the primary children a chance to learn this way of working. It is fair to say that they have enjoyed having a go. A small group of them came to the community centre and created the primary school logo out of mosaics and put it on to the first cement shape. In the summer I held a two day pop-up mosaic workshop in Lochside where families from the area took part. It is so rewarding being able to give people a chance to try something new and get creative. They always surprise me with their original ideas and creative flair.

Pop up mosaic workshops on Lochside Road

Something that has really stood out for me this year was in the October holidays when the Creative Futures team helped me to produce a whole week of art activities appropriately named ‘Art Week’. It was amazing to have the freedom to come up with a programme of events, and included in this a bus trip. Being able to organise a bus trip to be enjoyed by so many from the area and give them the opportunity to connect with public art, was truly brilliant. We took 32 people (adults and children) to Glenrothes in Fife where there are over a hundred pieces of public art. We went on a walk around the town led by local community workers who told us about the history of art in Glenrothes. It was great to hear people talking on the way back about how Dumfries could be different.

Visiting artworks in Glenrothes!

Not only the bus trip but the rest of Art Week was fantastic too. We ran the workshops 11am until 3pm and invited children to bring their own lunch. This gave us plenty of time to get artistic. Some of the local children came every day. Holding these daily workshops has shown me how much my confidence has grown over the past few years in this line of work. I now feel really confident planning and delivering workshops across many art forms.
All in all being part of the Creative Futures team this year has been brilliant in so many ways. It has given me the opportunity to run many different workshops, given me the challenge of adapting to using new materials, the chance to work on large scale projects, and learn how it is to work as an artist in a community setting. I am really grateful for the responsibility and opportunities I’ve been given, the team I’ve been working with and the new connections I have made within the community. I now feel a welcome addition to community events and people know they can come to me if they have any creative project or workshop ideas. I’m looking forward to continuing these projects and developing new ideas in the new year.

Stay in touch with the Creative Futures project by following their Facebook page here
More about Kirsty Turpie and her art practice on her Community Art page here

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