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Messages: Elsewhere Installation

Messages. Helen Walsh 2020.

Messages is a new artwork installation created by artist Helen Walsh, and sited in the windows of 113-115 High Street, Dumfries.
The installation will be on view from Monday 21st September to Monday, 19th October.


“We use envelopes to send mesages, to communicate, to share our ideas, our secrets, our hopes and dreams. Envelope also means to wrap and protect and in my installation I want to look at both these ideas. These envelopes represent some of my hopes, dreams and fears for us post Covid-19.

I’ve made the envelopes from transparent paper so you can see some of the contents, a sharing of my hopes, dreams and fears. I hope you’ll share some of yours with me by taking an envelope from the box provided, working on it and then returning it to us at The Stove Network so we can add it to the installation.”

Get Involved

To get involved collect an envelope from either 113-115 High Street, or The Stove cafe and share your hopes and ideas of what life should be like after the Covid-19 pandemic. You can share these ideas however you like, drawings, words or another way – and return it to the Stove cafe addressed to ELSEWHERE. Alternatively, if you are based outwith the town centre, post us your ideas to ELSEWHERE, The Stove, 100 High Street, Dumfries. Envelopes should not be larger than C5.


“The High Street is somewhere we thought we knew, and now it’s different, it’s elsewhere.”

Elsewhere is a research project by The Stove Network that looks to locate creative activity in the High Street of Dumfries as a means of exploring public space during a time when we as a community are responding to, and recovering from, the effects of COVID on our sense of place.

Helen Walsh is an artist and creative practitioner living on the Solway Coast. Helen specialises in drawing and textiles, particularly embroidery. Helen is continually fascinated by the natural world and our connection to it. Find out more about Helen and her work online here

Helen’s work is located in 113-115 High Street, a property recently purchased by Midsteeple Quarter. Find out more about the project here

Elsewhere is part of Atlas Pandemica. Find out more here

Elsewhere has been supported by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Regional Arts Fund.


Blueprint100 Looking Forward April – September 2020

Over the next few months, we’re taking some time to reflect on blueprint100. How can we grow and evolve the learning opportunities The Stove Network offers for young creative people, and by doing so, empower those and other young people to start professional careers within the arts?

It’s been 5 years since blueprint100 initiated itself as a coveted opportunity for young creative people through a self-led approach to professional development and active working experience within The Stove Network.

This is an approach to learning and professional development aimed at supporting young people across varied stages in their work and helping to build bridges both in and out of more formal structures and other types of work and experience.

As The Stove and blueprint100 have grown and changed rapidly over the past few years we feel it is a good time to take a deeper look at blueprint100 and the learning opportunities it provides as part of The Stove team.

Through a period of consultation and reflection we will evaluate and reshape our blueprint100 framework to ensure it meets the needs of our region’s young creatives giving them the right balance of support and freedom to develop.

For this reason we want to let you know that we will not be recruiting for another blueprint100 team this April 2020 but instead taking the space for this deeper consultation and evaluation. We will do this through a series of targeted workshops and one to one interviews with past blueprint100 curatorial team members, active participants and young creatives, creative groups and organisations and relative learning bodies and service providers.

The consultation will be lead by blueprint100 mentor Katharine Wheeler who will be supported by a young person within the blueprint age range (18-30).

Please stay tuned for more updates in the near future.


Coronavirus Update from The Stove Network

The Stove has always been a responsive and community-led organisation, we care deeply  about our team, our membership and the community we serve. The current public health situation with Coronavirus is a serious challenge to all of us and the way we do things as a society. We have decided to take a series of measures which are listed below and would ask everyone to have a read of these and pass on the message to anyone who you think might need to know.

However, thinking about the situation in its entirety, our team’s decision is not to leap in to immediate responses. Rather, we plan to wait, be watchful and listen to those around us and work to support the efforts of the council and other agencies who are taking a lead role in managing the challenges that face us all. The Stove has always been a future-facing and responsive organisation, we will make available all of our capacity, knowledge and experience and look for opportunities for positive action and change for our community.

Public Events

From today (Monday 16th March), all Stove programming for public events is cancelled until further notice. This means that all events in our calendar that are open to a public audience will not be going ahead. We will be reviewing this policy as official advice and guidance is available as the COVID-19 pandemic develops.

Room Bookings at The Stove

For outside groups using the Stove for their own private room bookings, we will continue to offer this facility for groups. We will be making some detailed changes to the way we use rooms and protocols for hygiene. These details will be made available to individual groups prior to their event.

The Stove Cafe

We are aware of the fast changing situation with regard to cafes and bars. For the time being we will keep the Stove Café open. We’ve discussed this with our staff who feel comfortable and confident. Everybody at the Stove feels that the community function of the café is important to people and that we should offer this facility for as long as possible. We will be keeping a close eye on national guidance and anticipate that the café may have to close in the near future, until then we have reduced the number of tables to allow folk to remain further apart and introduced additional hygiene measures around payment systems etc. The coffee will remain awesome!

In the meantime please stay safe and look after each other – if there is anything that you feel The Stove could be doing or you would like to contribute to our thinking about how to act in the future, please do get in touch.


National Culture Strategy

Last Friday, the Scottish Government published the new National Culture Strategy for Scotland, and we are delighted that the Stove has been featured as a case study! You can download and read the Culture Strategy in full online here, and comment on Twitter using #culturescot.

The strategy has three main aims:

  • to strengthen culture
  • transforming through culture
  • empowering through culture

We’ve been having a read of it over the weekend, and have picked out some of the key facts that we found particularly inspirational.

“Value, trust and support creative people – for their unique and vital contribution to society and the economy.”
“Encourage greater openness and diverse cultures to reflect a changing Scotland in the 21st century.”
“Foster international collaboration and build on Scotland’s reputation for cultural excellence.”
“Open up the potential of culture as a transformative opportunity across society.”
“Extend the view of culture to include the everyday and emerging, the established and more formal.”
“Extend opportunities that enable people to take part in culture throughout their lives.”
“Recognise each community’s own local cultures in generating a distinct sense of place, identity and confidence.”
“Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits (Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights).”

Hello 2020 at The Stove Network!

2019 was an incredible year for us at The Stove – we had the opportunity to work with an amazing host of people and groups, and to share a wide range of events and projects, both in-house and led by other organisations and artists.
Our programme for 2020 is starting to fill up fast and we’re gearing up for another jam-packed year of art, community and creativity at 100 High Street, aiming to encourage, gather, educate and inspire. We thought we’d share a few projects that we’re looking forward to in the coming year – so get those diaries oot!

National Theatre of Scotland: Just Start Here

Next month, we’re delighted to be working with National Theatre of Scotland to bring you a two-day festival of brand new work from a wide range of Scottish artists. ‘Just Start Here’ features bold new work and will take over shop-fronts, working men’s clubs and the streets of Dumfries this February.
Throughout the day, intimate performances and provocative talks will take place in between a bite to eat and time to mull ideas over. The evening will see live music performances, engaging conversation and a chance to experience something unique.
The lineup includes Nic Green, Behavin’, Two Destination Language, Ashanti Sharda, Stuart Macpherson, Emma Dove & Pete Smith, Stewart Laing, Mele Broomes, SUE ZUKI plus much more to be announced! To keep up to date please visit the National Theatre of Scotland Facebook or website by clicking here.

Dumfries Music Conference: The Plaza

Inspired by initiatives set up throughout the country, DMC launched ‘The Plaza’ at their seventh annual conference back in October. The Plaza is a roving music venue, dedicated to the takeover of the under-utilised, the abandoned, the ruinous and the unusual.

The first Plaza took place at Soul Soup on Irish Street, with live performances from Quiche, Megan Airlie, Prussia Snailham and the Lutras, with the second Plaza taking place just before Christmas at the Secret Gallery on Friars Vennel. A special Christmas themed evening with live performances from Kate Kyle, Steven Thomas and Callum Easter.
With plans for a Plaza event every second month, the DMC team are gearing up for a year of scoping out the hidden music venues of Dumfries and providing a platform for bands to showcase their talent in a unique space. Keep up to date with the latest Plaza info on the DMC Facebook here or visit their website by clicking here.


It’s now over two years since the Lowland project began with its first writer-in-residence, Stuart Paterson whose work with the Stove generated a mass of over 500 written postcard responses from poetry, short fiction, illustration and observations of life in a town in the midst of a transition. The project, first conceived as a means by which local people and visitors could contribute to a new contemporary portrait of Dumfries, has now since quietly developed with a core team of emerging writers and theatre-makers, contributing, devising and workshopping in the heart of the High Street. Now, entering into the rehearsal stages for its debut production in late March. For more information on the Lowland project and to find out how you might like to take part please email [email protected]

The Stove Café: Community Table

The Stove Café is the social heart of our network and, following a refurbishment last year, we’re looking forward to an exciting year of events and projects in the café and working with our community on a more regular basis. The Stove Café team are currently putting plans in place for a regular ‘Community Table’ where community groups and organisations can make use of the café space for regular meet ups, discussions or informal gatherings in a comfortable space with a hot drink and delicious food from local producers.

Nithraid 2020

Save the date – Nithraid is back! Dumfries’ annual River Festival returns to the Mill Green on Saturday 22ndAugust to celebrate our beloved River Nith with our community and partners. Nithraid is the biggest event in the Stove calendar, and with our eighth one approaching this year we’re looking at our biggest one yet – including opportunities to work with organisations, artist commissions, local food, live music performances, art installations and so much more!

For Nithraid 2020, we are looking forward to welcoming Dorothy Lawrenson to the team as our poet-in-residence. Dorothy will be researching the River Nith and its role in the life of the local community. The resulting work will be a collection of poems and podcasts, with each one concentrating on a specific aspect of the river.
Make sure you keep up to date with all our Nithraid news over on the Nithraid Facebook page here.

Embers – Igniting Culturally-led Regeneration across Dumfries and Galloway

Last year we had conversations with and gathered information from 21 groups and organisations from across Dumfries and Galloway with additional feedback and input from regional and national support bodies and agencies. We wanted to find out directly from groups and organisations working successfully as part of their communities more about the strengths and challenges of their work and build a picture of effective creative place making in Dumfries and Galloway and its impact for our places.

We are excited to share what has emerged from our consultation work and help build a case for a holistic approach to community focused enterprise and economic wellbeing, with the Embers going live at the end of February.

Musings News

The Stove: Dark Time

During the month of November, we will be taking some time to reflect on where, who and what The Stove is to our region. We’ve stripped back our monthly programme of events in order to take some time to think about the past year and what we can deliver for and with the community going forward into 2020. 

Over the past year, we’ve delivered an average of three events per week, launched new festivals and public art, galvanised our local music scene, celebrated four years of our monthly open mic night, Brave New Words, re-imagined our annual River Festival, Nithraid, and worked with a wide range of communities, partners, organisations and artists to celebrate a town in a transitional phase of it’s history. 

During November, we’re asking our members to join in on the conversation on social media as we pause to reflect on the past 12 months. Although we will not be hosting as many events as we normally do, The Stove Cafe will remain open as normal, and we will be engaging in conversations on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

We haver had a truly incredible 2019, all of which has only been possible through the continued support of you – our audiences, our members, our community and our partners.

There are still events happening throughout the month of November for you to get involved in too – please see our events page for more information.

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