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Stitching Our Story continues into 2019

Stitching Our Story began in 2016 as part of The Stove’s project ‘Our Norwegian Story’. The project was a series of events and activities led by Curatorial Team Member, Katharine Wheeler, which celebrated Dumfries’ unique connections to Norway. Stitching Our Story was created as a two day event and led by artist Deirdre Nelson. The event then turned into a 4-week block and was supported by our very own local artist and Archival Historian, Alyne Jones. Stitching Our Story has continued every month since due to the immense support and enthusiasm from a small focused group of stitchers. They meet on the first Wednesday of every month in The Stove Cafe, and spend a few hours talking stitching significant places on to map squares and sharing their unique stories and experiences of the town.

Initially, the group focused on places in Dumfries which played a significant role in the town’s Norwegian connection, including the iconic Rosefield Mills, which was used as the Headquarters for Norwegians in Exile during WWII. It was through their research of this particular building they were able to find out about other connections and places of significance and made time to sit together, talk about the stories that connect these places, share memories both old and new, the visions they had for these places and the importance they place on them stitch by stitch.

Over two years, the Stitching group have 20 beautifully stitched squares; some more detailed and others more sparse, all varied, personal and lovingly handled. The group are now looking to where they would like to go next with the project and are aiming to bring it all together for the end of 2019 and find a way to allow the squares to feel complete without covering every area in the same way. They hope to leave room for parts that are untouched next to areas that are more detailed, and find a way to display this work at the end of the project.

Norway is still very much an important factor in the stitching sessions and the group have continued to celebrate this connection when ever the chance arises – including the recent unveiling of the Whale Bench in Dock Park, which is situated opposite Rosefield Mills. They also recently joined Oceanallover’s Orographic micro-festival at The Stove to exhibit some of their map squares. 

Stitching Our Story continues on the first Wednesday of everything month from 3-5pm. It is open to all and they hope to welcome some new members over the year to help them continue to recognise important places in Dumfries.

News Project Updates

Stove is Norway Bound

‘Our Norwegian Story’ catch-up – Instalment II.

Part of this project took us to Norway to start to make some friends across the water.  We visited some of the former whaling towns that are directly connected to Dumfries as the home of those first arriving into Dumfries Station in the summer of 1941 – Tonsberg (our former twinning town), Sandeford and Bergen.

The enthusiasm and sense of shared connection to Dumfries with the people we met was quite overwhelming.  We spoke about the project in the Forsmannsenteret Centre for elderly residents in Sandefjord, children of those relationships and marriages made during the time of so many Norwegians in our town.  Met with local officials and other arts organisations to talk about future collaborations and tried to capture a tiny part of Norway’s side of our story.  There is still much to find out but we have made a start at least….we even made the local Sandefjord Press!

Norway:Scotland Flag copy

And it begins…

Norway Sandefjord copy

Sandfjord’s beautiful moving water sculpture

Norway Tonsberg2 copy

Making boats in Tonsberg

Norway Bergen copy

The World Heritage site of Bergen

Photo 01-10-2016, 11 08 51

Meeting Jenny of North Sea Traffic Museum

Norway Sandefjord Press copy

and the Sandefjord Press


Finn The Whale

Catching up on ‘Our Norwegian Story‘ Instalment I.

Finn the Whale – written by our very own talented Stove Curatorial Team member Martin Joseph O’Neill and local artist Maria Ruiz Plana – took the metaphors of Exile, Journey, and Friendship and wove them into a beautiful tale of finding your true self and a safe place of Refuge.  Workshops were held at The Stove and Lincluden Primary school in November with performances given to inspire the compositions of our young Paragon musicians.  Both these compositions and the Shadow Puppet show were performed as part of the Our Norwegian Story showcase in November’s STORY event.


STORY in The Stove

Finn the Whale Puppet Making copy

In the Making

Finn the Whale5 copy

Our very own Finn

Finn the Whale2 copy
Musings News

My Dumfries Story

From Jimmy Russell

Jimmy Russell has been working as part of the Our Norwegian Story (ONS) project since the beginning of this year, researching and compiling stories and histories of Dumfries’ Norwegian Connection. Following a recent call out, Jimmy is also closing the ONS Trail Launch this weekend, with his performance, My Dumfries Story at 6pm this Saturday, 15th April.

‘The research I have been doing for Our Norwegian Story has been surprisingly broad, bringing together stories of Norwegian soldiers’ military, sporting or romantic exploits and the legacy of each. Between scanning photographs from Dumfries Museum’s collection and scouring the Ewart Library archives, I have interviewed Doonhamers with memories or memorabilia from the 1940s. These folk have lent some personality to what could otherwise have been an interesting yet passionless exercise.

King Haakon reviews forces, troqueer Holm Field march past 1940

One of my favourite discoveries was tracing, through use of old photos and digital maps, the route that Norwegian arm recruits marched from their training ground at Troqueer Holm field to their base at the old mills in 1940 during King Haakon’s visit. At the intersection of Rosefield Road and Pleasance Avenue the king was photographed standing by a tree as his troops went by, and that spot hasn’t changed much in the past 77 years! Another special moment for me was finding images of a football match between Norwegian and Polish soldiers, probably during 1941-42 Inter-Allied tournament, which took place on the playing field of St Joseph’s College – my old secondary school!

While writing the website content for ONS I have been inspired by personal stories I have heard as much as learning about the broader situation of Norwegians fleeing to Britain. With My Dumfries Story I want to create an accessible and emotive link between those fading individual memories and the official history. By sharing the journal entries of an imaginary Norwegian living in wartime Dumfries I want to draw a composite sketch of the exile experience. Part of this process has been retracing the steps of Norwegians between various points on the trail and wider map, trying to walk in the boots of those welcome foreigners and capture what might have been felt in writing and drawing.

My background includes a degree in Scottish history and philosophy, museum and art gallery work, as well as creative writing and performance. I am also well travelled and interested in issues of migration. Hence the experience of working on Our Norwegian Story and My Dumfries Story in parallel has been both professionally and personally rewarding. I hope the results generate a greater interest in the rich, surprising history of Dumfries, but also in oor toon’s place within international contexts.’

Find our more about the Our Norwegian Story project here, and for details of the Trail Launch this weekend please find out more here, or join our Facebook Event. All events are free to attend, and no booking is required!

Musings Project Updates

Stitching Our Story

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

What started off last Autumn as part of Mapping Our Norwegian Story workshops has taken on a life of its own through the Stitching Our Story open stitching sessions – artist Deirdre Nelson joined the ONS team to kick start a series of hand stitched maps of Dumfries, which have now been adopted by local historian Alyne Jones and the Dumfries Embroiderer’s Guild in a fast growing project to map contemporary Dumfries through the stories and histories of the town.


The Norwegian connections are mapped out across the 20 panels that make up the map, along with other significant and personal places – local schools, homes, historical sites and transport links all feature.

Stitching 1
Stitching 2
Stitching 3

Following on from successful evening workshops in February, Stitching Our Story continues into March, and all are welcome to stop in to the Stove cafe and add their own mark to the map. First drawn and then stitched over, everyone is welcome – Norwegian connections or otherwise – from experienced sewers to beginners.

Stitching Our Story is part of our ongoing Our Norwegian Story project, which has seen various events and activities exploring Dumfries’ Norwegian connection, culminating in the launch of a new Trail around the town in April 2017. For more details on the project, visit our ONS page here

Stitching 4

To come and help add your marks to the map, or to just see how work is developing, stop by the Stove cafe on Wednesday afternoons between 3.30 and 5.30pm. Contact Katharine katharine<at> for more details.

Image credits: Galina Walls and Katie Anderson

News Project Updates

Journey through our town – ONS

September brought Our Norwegian Trail to life with the most recent Mapping Event.  We scribbled, played, discussed and stitched Our Story into creation on a beautiful sunny day despite half of our team being struck down by one of those Autumn bugs.

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

Large chalk drawings are always fun!  We had lots of young helpers join in our antics outside on the pavement as well as a few inquisitive chats and walks down memory lane.


Artist Deirdre Nelson joined us over the two days with large printed squares of Dumfries.  Embroidery silks at the ready she helped passers by stitch significant places in Dumfries’ Norwegian history as well as other personnel significance onto our maps.  We are looking forward to welcoming her back to continue – and maybe tidy up slightly some of our own attempts – for the next ONS event STORY on the 10th, 11th and 12th of November, come join us!

The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries
The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries
The Mapping Our Norwegian Story/Dumfries

If you have a place or a memory that relates to Dumfries’ Norwegian Story please do get in touch, we are keen to make this story truly Dumfries’.

[email protected]

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