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.
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!)”
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.”
Blog Post from Community Artist and Stovie Kirsty Turpie
Growing up in the small town of Lockerbie, I was surrounded by a great sense of community. Some of my favourite memories include going along to coffee mornings in the town hall with friendly faces serving tea and cakes, doing arts and crafs at Brownies and playing board games at the youth club. All of these experiences gave me a sense of belonging and connectedness. When I began volunteering and working with Creative Futures in Lochside in Lincluden I quickly began to feel this sense of community once again and it is this feeling that made the experience of working for the project so exciting and unforgettable. Over the two and half years that I worked there, the project became increasingly integral to providing opportunities and events to allow the coming together of the communities in North West Dumfries. I was proud to be a part of it and to be the one that was now helping to provide the type of events and activities that I once loved as a kid.
One of my highlights event wise was the two day Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge in 2018 as it got young and old involved and allowed the public to come and share in the experience at the fnale meal on the Saturday night. The challenge was launched at Summerhill Community Centre in June by Scotland’s national chef and TV personality Gary MacLean. Teams of six were urged to sign up for cooking challenges over the summer with the fnal two day challenge including a master class by Gary MacLean. It took some time to motivate the community to sign up to a team but the perseverance was worth it as so much fun was had at the challenge.
On the Friday night teams were invited to Lochside Community Centre for the canapé challenge. There was a table of ingredients and a list of canapés they could make. Local MP Emma Harper joined the line up of judges and all of the teams got in the spirit and tried their hardest to impress with creative and tasty canapés.
First was the marketing challenge where they had to come up with a community event that they would hold with an imaginary £300, second was the cooking challenge with chef Gary MacLean and third was the hospitality challenge where they had to dress and set a table. Whilst the teams were doing their challenges I held activities to keep the children busy which included making chocolate crispy cakes, designing fruit faces and colouring in. There was a real buzz around the community centre all day and into the night with the community meal and challenge awards ceremony.
I was asked to co-host the awards ceremony with Gary and we even had a red carpet! The competitors of the day and the winning team The Rhino Chef’s were very chuffed with their achievements. The Rhino Chef’s won £300 to fund their community idea from the marketing challenge. Fast forward a year later and this idea became a reality with North West’s Got Talent going ahead at Lincluden Community Centre… another fantastic night!
The Hell’s Kitchen Masterchef challenge is an example of many of the things that I enjoyed about working for Creative Futures… providing events across many diferent venues to get as many groups involved as possible, seeing community members find new skills and be proud of their efforts, having to take on more roles than just artist, running workshops in a large variety of themes, learning a lot about event organising and running and seeing community groups receive funding to do their thing. All of this and I’ve not even touched on the creative side of things…and there was defnitely a lot of that over the two and a half years.
My frst two creative remits were to work with the community to create new artworks for the Lincluden rhino statue, and to collaboratively design and build a commemorative statue for Lochside Primary School…not the smallest of tasks! It took over a year to see both of them to fruition and the journeys for both of consultation, research, development, collaborative work and creation were immensely enjoyable. And what was the material / technique that I fell in love with over this period…if you’ve seen or heard about the projects then you’ll know that it’s MOSAIC! Yes, all of those tiny pieces of shiny colour perfect for surviving outdoors and an activity that all ages can get involved in.
For the Lincluden Rhino statue artwork creation I held mosaic workshops at Lochside Gala, Nithraid, Lincluden Community Centre and worked with the Primary 3 class at Lincluden Primary school. To compliment the rainforest themed mosaics created I invited pupils at Lincluden Primary School to come up with rainforest designs for the metal work. This led to the fnal stage of the upgrade…the two day spray paint workshop at the rhino statue. We had the Creative Futures sound system along with us and had 30 children join in over the two days which created lots of hype about seeing the completed renovation. Local roofer Gary Barsch helped to install the mosaics and in May last year we held the launch party. Likewise with the installation of the Lochside Primary Commemoration statue local builder Malcom Campbell helped by laying the concrete base for the structure. It was great to work with local people on all levels to make the art projects happen.
After the completion of the rhino statue artwork and the primary school statue I wondered what would be next, but there wasn’t much time to think because there are so many active organisations in Lochside and Lincluden with plenty of ideas and it was coming in to summer… a busy time for providing events for young people and families. First stop was the YMCA who had just moved in to the former Lochside Primary School and had a newly found huge space to decorate. The building was our oyster! I took on the role of helping the young people decorate their reception area with a day to night themed mural.
In the summer holidays mosaics returned as I ran a workshop for the young people to create an under the sea mosaic for their art room. Through providing these workshops I built up a good relationship with the young people and felt proud to see them trying new creative skills and take ownership of their spaces. The summer continued with the creation of a bottle cap mural for LIFT’s NANA’s Park community garden space, and the Creative Futures summer theme Fashion & Festival leading up to the Day of the Region Fashion festival.
The creativity continued in to Autumn with October Holidays Art in the Park and painting a mural on the Pop Eyes Park electrical sub station with designs and help from the Lincluden Rainbows and Brownies. It was fantastic to be able to work on such a variety of projects and not only allow community members to join in on art projects but actually get them involved in brightening up the spaces in their area to make them more exciting and enjoyable places to be!
My fnal task at Creative Futures whilst packing up my stuff was packing up the Creative Futures room to be moved over to the projects new room at the YMCA centre in Lochside. It felt like an appropriate end to be seeing them off on to their new chapter as I was going off on mine. It was an amazing few years of creativity, community and fun… and I’m excited to see what all of the projects, local people and young people that I worked alongside get up to next.
Since starting with the Curatorial Team almost 3 years ago, the amount I have learned and the people I have had the opportunity to work with has been invaluable to how my life has unfolded. The Stove creates a space for growing and nurturing whether it be people or ideas, and it’s safe to say I have came a long way since the nervous person sitting on the interview chair babbling about fairy lights.
I had a little experience working with the Stove before joining the Curatorial Team; the first interaction I had was with the Environmental Arts Festival. I have a background in being involved in local events and was pointed in their direction as a volunteer by Sleeping Giants, a partner of the Stove. Not quite sure what I had got myself into, I ended up meeting a group of extraordinary people who had created a community and used their creativity to produce an event that had reached me like no other had in my previous experience. I actually cried after the end of that project, the thought of going back to my usual day-to-day pub work filled me with dread and not knowing when the next opportunity would be.
The advert came up for the CT position and I thought there wouldn’t be a chance in hell that I would get the job but it would be good to throw my name in the ring for experience. I got an Interview… (How I have no idea but I did!) In the Interview, Fairy Lights were mentioned A LOT. I had resigned myself to “well you gave it a shot at least”. Now I’m not entirely sure if the existing team were within their right minds or, like myself, had no idea what they had gotten themselves into, but that day changed my life.
From there I went on to focus on the events and expand my practice with community work. Nithraid Festival has been the biggest part of my role here and has taught me so much that I had previously taken for granted as until then I was always brought in later to an events delivery. Being the project manager and planning from the very ground up has given me priceless knowledge, sometimes through trial and error, of working with the local community and authorities to deliver a festival that has grown along with myself into something I am proud of.
Another part of the job that I loved working with was health as a subject be it physical or mental health. I created a project called the Light Room in October 2016 that entailed tackling prejudice, working with a diverse range of groups and a lot of (you guessed it) FAIRY LIGHTS. After that and the curse of the fairy lights you will be glad to know I learned my lesson – and the event opened my eyes to how we can use art to get conversations happening. That was what being part of the team did, you have a group of people with all different ranges of expertise and they will help you work through a project or idea. Even when you have been up a ladder for 5 hours and are tangled in a mass of cables they will be up those ladders with you. It’s not just for those that join the CT, every person that comes into the Stove with an idea are guided on how to do it them selves, and not “we will do it for you”.
Every experience has been a huge learning curve and not one day is the same – that is what I will forever treasure working as part of the CT and any time I think, ” What have I got myself into now?” I welcome it.
A huge and special thank you to Sal for her sterling work the past two and a half years on our Curatorial team, but don’t worry – Sal isn’t going anywhere just yet, you can still find her in the Stove managing room bookings and events production, and as Project Manager on Nithraid – coming up this year on the 31st of August!
As I’m approaching the end of my wonderful journey at The Stove, I want to reflect on my time here and how it has influenced me and my career, and brought me in to the position I find myself in today. I feel privileged to have been a part of a group that has made such huge strides to integrate art in to Dumfries and really helped to shape the town’s future in the most positive way.
In 2015 I was working as a Modern Apprentice at D&G Council’s Film Office. I was informed that I could spend the final year of my apprenticeship working for an external organisation and immediately my mind landed on The Stove. I had admired their work up to that point and was really inspired by their ethos, which at its core was a desire to connect the community through creative means and ignite a positive change in Dumfries.
My first day in June 2015 was an experience I’ll never forget. That was because of the arrival of the Rajasthani Brass Band at The Stove that day, dancing and making music in their incredible vibrant, colourful costumes. I was asked to photograph the event, and as I watched stovie members, children and the band dancing out in the street I knew I was going to have a great adventure ahead of me.
Initially my role at The Stove was to support events and help with administration. The first major project I helped to coordinate was Nithraid 2015. Nithraid is an annual festival which aims to celebrate the town’s relationship with the River Nith by holding a boat race down the river. I worked alongside the event producer booking stalls, marketing the event and managing volunteers.
I had been working for The Stove for several months when they were approached by Queen Margaret University looking for people working in the arts to fill spaces on their MA in Arts & Festival Management up in Musselburgh. Although I had no formal qualifications up to this point, the Stove team encouraged me to apply and I was very surprised when offered a spot on the course. This was a huge moment for me, as I had always considered myself non-academic. It was a time I look back at now to see a change in my self-confidence and belief in my own abilities growing.
An element of the course was a group project to produce a marketing strategy for The National Library of Scotland’s new exhibition. Within the group I handled the visual components of the strategy, and attempted to create a logo for the exhibition. I approached a graphic designer friend and asked him for the basics on Illustrator so I could attempt to make the logo properly. Following that project I spent weeks teaching myself adobe software and design online. I had found something that was creative, that I felt I could understand well and become good at!
As I was approaching the end of the first year of university, I started to reflect on where I wanted to see myself going with my career. My apprenticeship had also ended and I was getting up at 5 every Friday to travel up to Musselburgh, I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons. I found myself drawn more and more to spend time learning about design, and studying just seemed to get in the way of that. I made the very difficult decision to finish the year, and not return.
Over this time I had contributed more and more to The Stove’s design work creating posters for events, and they invited me to continue to work there one day a week as an in-house graphic designer. I must thank stovies hugely for taking this risk as it truly gave me the push to pursue graphic design as a viable career choice.
I have continued to work part time as The Stove’s designer since, pushing myself to learn to be creative and expressive in design working on many different projects. I had to find work elsewhere to pay the bills, first as a marketing assistant, most recently as a designer for a local print shop, and I have just been offered a job as a full time graphic designer at a local company.
I must say that had I not been working for such a supportive organisation as The Stove, I wouldn’t have found myself on a journey that started with me teaching myself graphic design, and having a full time role as a designer less than three years later.
I will miss every part of life at The Stove, however I don’t feel as though I am leaving because without a doubt I will be there as much as I can be as a Stove Member, witnessing the amazing progress they are making for our town through projects like the Midsteeple Quarter.
This month we say goodbye to Blueprint100 Curatorial Team Member Jenna Macrory as she ventures off to Newcastle to begin her degree in Traditional Music. She has written a few words discussing her experience of working at Blueprint100 and her journey through different projects. We wanted to say a huge thank you to Jenna for all her amazing work over the last 2 years – we will miss you!
Starting this role in November 2016 following on from my Nithraid internship, Blueprint provided a natural progression. After Nithraid, I knew that I wanted to work in the arts but was lost as to what my next step should be. Blueprint100 provided a paid role to work and develop projects but also to work and develop myself as an artist. Through Blueprint, I was able to host events, workshops and experiences for young people and give back to my town.
As a musician I was able to explore other job prospects in the music industry like event management and sound engineering. Being able to explore these other routes of working within the creative industry is essential for young people today as in schools the focus is pushed so heavily on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematic) based careers. This leaves a stigma that there are not viable career options within this sector, which is not true. It is absolutely essential that young people are made aware of this and also people that live in rural regions are able to access the arts.
Prior to working for blueprint I didn’t see much in Dumfries. I saw an anchor to my creativity but now as someone that is about to go to university in a city I don’t want to leave. Part of the magic of Dumfries is that is an unfinished project and getting to play a part in the development of Dumfries has been incredible and I’m very grateful that I was able to play a part in that.
Looking forward I’m really excited to come back to Dumfries and Galloway and see where this town is. Projects like Midsteeple Quarter and Rosefield Mills are set to revitalise parts of the town which I believe will change the dynamics of the town and set us on track for the future.