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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.


Orphaned Limbs – In Residence


A week long residency followed by performance by dance collective Orphaned Limbs exploring connections and notions of ‘home’, When in Roam. The residency included live music performance from musician Ross Whyte, and open performance workshops.

Working alongside Orphaned Limbs, ‘stovies interactive’ Michael Sullivan and Donna Winter were commissioned to make responsive work alongside the When in Roam project.

When in roam Menu2

The Stovies Interactive kept a video diary, available to view online here

The performance itself, a mixture of projection, dance, spoken word and sound took place across both floors of the Stove, followed by a Q&A with the performers and artists involved.


This commission was supported by:

Musings Project Updates

As Above So Below

From Ivor Gott


“Hey Ivor, it’d be pretty neat if you could write a blog to tell us about your project for nithraid” announced Katie Anderson excitedly at the last Young Stove meeting. The first thing that went through my mind upon hearing these words was “CRIKEY!! How on earth am I ever going to explain this to the general public?” . . . After much careful consideration, i have come to the conclusion that the best approach would be to just tell the truth.

So here goes. . .

It all started with a pirate ship, a great big pirate ship. A great big pirate ship made out of recycled plastic bottles. . .  So how did i get from a pirate ship to two pyramids or should i say tetrahedrons, a chrome unicorn and an art performance based loosely around the concept of enlightenment. The truth of the matter is I didnt get there on my own. The pirate ship was a snap decision made during a meeting with my stove mentor Denise Zygadlo.  i was feeling under immense pressure to make some sort of decision on the project, at this point it had been two weeks since the commission had started, and my initial idea, although perfect for the dock park site (where nithraid was originally intended to be) was just not going to work on mill green. . . “come on Ivor” My inner voice urged. . . “what are you going to do? It must be good, no better than good, It must be fabulous!” . . . so before i had even properly thought about it i found myself telling denise that i might make a pirate ship out of plastic bottles.

This idea then grew from a pirate ship into a viking long boat, inspired by a workshop held at stove that evening. However this was not to remain the case for very long. After a few meetings with my fellow creatives the Mad Jackals (Majikals) the idea of making a viking long boat was starting to seem pretty tiresome. I just couldnt get excited about it. It wasn’t a reflection of me nor was it a reflection of my wonderfully creative friends. . . Then it just came to me i said. “We need to make a pyramid and float it down the nith!!” . . . “We have to have a unicorn inside the pyramid!!” . . . the words of a mad person? Yes, probably.

At this point there was myself, sophie and michael at the studio. You could feel the collective excitement crackling between our minds. I started scribbling ideas down.  it MUST and I repeat MUST include the mer-ka-ba, rainbow smoke, flash grenades, horned elementals . . . i was really getting away with myself, credit to Sophie and Michael they were running with me, we were organic and free, if not a little overly optimistic.

The next day I met with my little brother. We were sat in the queensberry, and i was expressing anxiety over the size of the project as it stood. Conor very often being the voice of reason, is somebody who i consult when mashing around creative ideas. He is himself a creative, but where I go off on tangents and allow my concepts to grow bigger than my mind can handle, he has a real skill for reducing it down and keeping it real. i can always trust him to tell me the truth, and to be realistic. . . “one question?” he pondered with his eyebrow raised ” How are you going to do this in 2 weeks?” . . .

I knew he was right. The idea had to change again, and it had to change fast. More of the jackals were arriving at this point. ideas were being thrown around, the ideas were coming thick and fast –

“time capsule” . . . ” Did you say time capsule. . .

Thats perfect. the mer-ka-ba. . . As above so below. . . We’ll make a time capsule and we’ll make it in the shape of an inverse tetrahedron. . . of course we’re going to need a non-inverted tetrahedron too. . . ahhhh its perfect. . . there will be two tetrahedrons. . . the unicorn thats staying, the rainbow smoke has to stay too. “

In order to maintain some mystery about the performance and workshop I’m going to stop there, but in a nutshell thats how an idea that first birthed itself into consciousness as a plastic bottle pirate ship evolved into an exciting interactive art performance based loosely around the theme of enlightenment. We look forward to seeing you all on sunday, when all will be revealed. . . One thing i’d like to say before I get back to putting the finishing  touches on everything is that this commission although applied for as a solo project has been a collaborative effort, I often find collaboration so much more exciting than working alone, and have the most fabulous team of creative individuals in my life. We are the Mad Jackals because, they think we’re mad, but we know that we are majickal.

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