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Dumfries Tower of Light: Reflections

Post by Stove Public Art Lead, Katie Anderson

Dumfries Tower of Light: Image credit Ruari Barber Fleming

On Sunday, 19th December the Dumfries Museum Windmill Tower was lit up as it never has been before, with over 1000 individually lit candles gracing it’s unique architecture. The idea was first floated in 2020 when Dumfries and Galloway Council was looking for alternative ways to mark a Christmas Lights Switch On, but that could be hosted in a safe way for families and local folk to gather. The Stove Network team, working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Museum’s grew the idea but it wasn’t to be – first a delay caused by shipping issues from Europe, then followed by a change in covid19 guidance, meant that the project had to take a back step for the year.

Installing individual candles onto the facade of the Museum’s Windmill Tower

Fortunately since then, we’ve been able to build up the plans to host the event again this year – and finally, with a perfect evening, this temporary art installation took place. Each of the candles was hand placed on the many surfaces and edges of the Museum building by the installation team, and had to be taken down in the same careful manner to avoid damage.

The front steps of the Windmill Tower lit up at night. Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

Meanwhile, inside the Museum, specially opened for the day, were hosted crafting workshops with artist Helen Walsh creating felt robin tree decorations, inspired by the Victorian’s love of feathered friends in their festive greetings, and a series of puppet performances with Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre. The Jaggy Thistle Bistro also set up a pay-what-you-feel takeaway café for the afternoon, which completely sold out within hours!

The Tower illuminated, captured by Evie Copland

Marking one of the darkest days of the year, the Tower of Light came to life as the sun set – and was serenaded into the dark by the wonderful Cairn Chorus choir who stopped by to sing a collection of pieces. Visitors were invited to take a walk up through the Museum gardens, following light trails to view the artwork and look out over the town. Also visiting the site was Susi Sweetpea Fairy, who took the time to share stories, songs and conversations with those visiting. Over the course of the evening we welcomed 400 folk into the Museum grounds for a closer look and the opportunity to reflect on a challenging year and the New Year to come.

As part of the event, the Stove team gathered hopes and wishes for the year to come, which were all displayed on our Christmas tree – now available to view in The Stove Café – ranging from the poignant and heartfelt to playful and inspiring. In exchange,  craft packs were gifted out to take mini Museum’s home to decorate and hang on trees at home.

The moon making a star appearance. Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

The whole event was live streamed by Derry and Greg from the Battlestations crew, you can watch it back via our Youtube platform HERE and was also recorded using aerial footage by Stewart Gibson of Odin Aerial Solutions, see the beautiful film footage he recorder HERE

Stills captured by Stewart Gibson at Odin Aerial Soultions

As ever, these events can only take place with the hard work of the team and volunteers – special thanks to everyone who pitched in to make the Tower of Light happen, from cherry picker rescues, to guiding visitors around the site, hand lighting every candle to performing – the magic of moments like these is created by all those who contribute. Thank you! Special thanks also to the Museum’s team for all their support and trust throughout the project, and to DG Council for their support.

Image credit: Ruari Barber Fleming

Now what to do with 1,000 candles…

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