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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.

Musings News

The MooCoo Collective: Nithraid 2017

Blog post written by (and with thanks to) Jimmy Russell

Nithraid 2017’s Viking theme continues The Stove Network’s broader exploration of historic and current Nordic cultural influence in Dumfries & Galloway. In support of this Moovement Coollective (MooCoo) will be leading a procession of community groups with the Salty Coo through the town to meet the boat race and a Viking encampment at Mill Green. MooCoo is a newly formed performance trio comprised of Agnė Zdanavičiūtė, Jimmy Russell and Leo Marsh, three young artists living and working in Dumfries. The three members of MooCoo each bring something unique to the group.

Inspiration for the MooCoo team comes in the form of CIRCA, the Clandestine Rebel Clown Army

Leo is a costume maker and performer who has worked with Oceanallover and often contributes to Brave New Words. Their work is rooted in vulnerability and connection, exploring topics such as sense of self and belonging through the lenses of gender and sexuality.
Jimmy is a researcher, writer and performer who has worked on the Our Norwegian Story and Lost Chronicles of Gallovidia projects, while regularly reading at Brave New Words. His interests lie in history, community empowerment and costume design, all of which find some outlet with Nithraid.
Agnė is a recent graduate in environmental science at the Crichton who is fascinated by public art interventions and wants to learn how to organise and deliver a performance. She also wants to challenge peoples’ ways of thinking and give something to Dumfries.

Nithraid coo

For the procession MooCoo are fusing Viking lore with clowning sensibilities to create a spectacle at the river festival that combines heritage with silliness. In preparation we are coordinating different community groups that will process with us, including the Sandside Garden Apaches and Galloway Longfhada Vikings, as well as musicians and our fellow clowns. Our troupe of MooCoo clowns are benefiting from training by experienced rebel clown Lance Goodey from Glasgow who is delivering sessions at The Stove and Sandside Community Garden over two weekends.

During Nithraid 2017 we want to challenge the popular imagery of Vikings as bloodthirsty marauders with the reality that their presence in Galloway represented a surprisingly peaceful coexistence between different peoples. Rather than perpetuate the narrative that overseas invaders threaten our way of life, we wish to highlight the cultural exchange that did and still can exist in our homeland, not least with Norse folk. That is why our slogan for Nithraid 2017 is ‘We Come In Peace’.

Auõumbla: the primeval cow of Norse mythology who nourished herself by licking a salty glacier!
Auõumbla: the primeval cow of Norse mythology who nourished herself by licking a salty glacier!

In a predictably ridiculous fashion we’ll invoke the Nordic creation myth of Auðumbla: a primeval cow who nourished herself by licking salty glacier, which slowly released Búri, the first Norse god and grandfather of Odin. In turn Auðumbla’s milk nourished Ytar, a being whose body was used by Odin and the other gods to fashion Midgard, the realm of men. This story depicts creation as an ongoing and participatory process, a fitting message for Nithraid, which highlights the centuries old relationship between the river and Dumfries.

Clowning is something that has interested all three of us for some time. It seemed an interesting method of animating this myth and challenging typical tales of Vikingly violence. By adopting the dynamics of clowning – curiosity, engagement, presence, wonder – we want to inject a sense of fun and friendliness into local Viking lore, and invite people to question what they think they know about Norse-Gallovidian relations. The Nithraid procession will harness vulnerability to create a performance which is responsive to interactions and which blossoms in joyful, surprising directions.


everybody is just a human being

Jordan Chisholm is a student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying Contemporary Perfomance Practice. She is currently doing a placement at The Stove and writing a blog about her experience with us – this is her first post..

Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance (Nithraid 2016) she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard
Jordan (with blue hair) performing in the Salty Coo performance she co-designed and produced with Dillon Colthard for The Stove’s Nithraid 2016. Photo Kirstin McEwan

When I was thinking about where I wanted to do my placement for third year – I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do it in Dumfries. I moved to Dumfries, in 2012, when I was seventeen years old. When I left school, I had a university offer to do Criminology but I wasn’t entirely sure if this is what I wanted to do. My mum has stayed in Dumfries for around fourteen years and it was decided that I would move in with her, to be in a new environment with no one I knew.

I’d visited Dumfries many times at the weekends and over school holidays but living there on a daily basis was something extremely different. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the town. As an ‘outsider’ coming from Edinburgh; I felt as though I really did not belong in this beautiful space and I could not explain why. I guess this was something internal and I spent most of my first year living in Dumfries travelling back to Edinburgh; there was something I was not prepared to let go and starting a new life was not as simple as I had anticipated.

Time passed and I began to open my mind. I met new people and started to do new things. I began to explore Dumfries in a new way; it was like a playground – full of magic, wonder and uncertainty. I still feel much of that uncertainty today – over four years later. However, I am not scared by this anymore; instead it inspires me and it always leaves me wanting more.

Dumfries changed me. It changed the way I look at things, it changed my opinions, it gave me a platform to do things I never thought I was capable of doing, it gave me something to be passionate about, it allowed me to learn about myself and who I could be, it shaped my future, my hopes and my dreams; Dumfries changed my life. But could I change Dumfries?

When I think about what I may want to do in the future; giving something back to Dumfries is at the top of my list. You see, in this misunderstood town, where there may not be very much to do, there are hundreds of people who all share the same love and understanding of what this space really is. Dumfries has a strange pull to it; and this pull is of upmost importance to the future of the town. We have to work together to allow people to feel proud of where they come from – to make them want to stay. This is what I want to be a part of. A part of the regeneration of Dumfries through art, creativity and sheer hope. I want Dumfries to give everyone what it gave to me, and I don’t want them to have to look very hard to get what they are looking for.

The Stove Network is situated in the centre of Dumfries. It is a fully accessible public arts space/facility/resource for the population of the town and the wider region. It is a support network that creates opportunities and connections for the creative community and integrates with the local economy and wider society. One of The Stove’s aims is to use the arts to engage and empower people for themselves, the places they live and society at large. This aim is vital to my own learning and development; I knew that this was where I had to be for placement. I wanted to know how they manage to do what they do in a town that says no much more than it says yes. I wanted to live and breathe their commitment to the Dumfries community and I wanted to be around people who share the same desires as I do; who can show me how to make a positive difference with an understanding of the quality in process as well as the product.

Although I knew why I wanted to be at The Stove, I was still extremely nervous on my first day and I did not know what to expect. It reminded me of my earlier ‘outsider’ feelings but I pushed these to the side and arrived with no expectations as to how my first week may turn out.

I was met by curator, orchestrator and public artist; Matt Baker. The motivation for Matt’s work is to have an effect in the place for which it is made. I find it comforting and reassuring having the opportunity to be mentored by someone who vocalises that they became an artist to change the world.


Blueprint100 Go to Edinburgh

From Emily Cooper – portraiture artist and blueprint100 Intern


Earlier this month a group of intrepid Blueprint Members undertook an expedition to the frozen rain-soaked streets of Edinburgh in search of inspiration. Following an excited minibus journey we arrived at our first destination.


Jupiter Art Land, a few miles outside of Edinburgh, hosts a vast array of large scale art pieces and indoor gallery exhibitions the first of which was the colourful and charming work Myth Cart by Hayley Tompkins, whose work did it’s best to brighten our spirits with its vivid display.

Soon though it was time to brave the weather and explore the grounds. We came across works from classical style structures such as Ian Hamilton Finley’s Temple of Apollo and Xth Muse, to the psychedelic Love Bomb by Marc Quinn.


Particular favourites of the group were Weeping Girls by Laura Ford and Landscape with Gun and Tree by Cornelia Parker.


Another thought provoking installation was In Memory by Nathan Coley a piece in which tall concrete walls surround a replica graveyard of apparently reclaimed gravestones.

All in all, despite the less than ideal weather conditions Jupiter Art Land proved to be a valuable and inspirational experience and certainly got our creative juices flowing and after something to warm us through in the onsite café it was time to head into Edinburgh and find our home for the night. The world’s first shipping container hotel! Some were excited…others were not.

As we pulled up into a slightly worse for wear, overgrown car park and were faced with the drab, grey corrugated iron walls, hearts began to sink and trepidation became rampant, however after hesitantly pushing open the gates, relief reigned supreme and what followed was a great night’s sleep in a warms comfy beds surrounded by friendly, colourful people. Our only regret was that we only had one night to stay.


The following day began (somewhat late, after some difficulty navigating through the excessive crowds of fringe-time Edinburgh) with a trip to the pop up Arts Festival Hub to view the exhibition Platform followed by a guided tour of some other points off interest as part of the festival including the fountain of youth, created with the help of local school children!


The rest if the day was free time to spend in whichever culturally education way we saw fit, for some that meant visiting the National Museum and exploring the various exhibits on offer whilst one group visited the National Portrait Gallery and experienced an impressive collection of self-portraits ranging from Matisse to Rembrandt.


Art viewed, feet drenched and overpriced coffee consumed to excess, it was time for us to head home. A much quieter bus journey followed, interrupted only by the odd snore from the bus full of sleeping creatives. Thanks for having us Edinburgh, you were great…if a little exhausting!


Introducing Euan Macrory

This years Nithraid sees us welcome a new team of young interns to help kick-start our now annual sailing race up river and into the centre of Dumfries. First up is Euan Macrory, a musician from the town and joining the event production and marketing team. We asked Euan to tell us a little more about himself and his music:


I am a musician that is driven by giving opportunities to other performers and artists. I hope to contribute my part to the Dumfries music community by encouraging new performers and hopefully allow people to try music as a hobby even if they never have, purely so people can discover a new passion. My main passion at the moment is combining genres and changing music. This has involved me taking genres that are not always perceived as exciting, like traditional folk and combining it styles like funk, flamenco and jazz. In the future I hope I can encourage a rise in the interest of the Dumfries music scene and try to change music.

I was drawn to Nithraid because I wanted to try being part of the organisation of an event so I could participate in events from a new perspective. I have been a performer at events but I am looking forward to experiencing events under different circumstances and gaining new skills in fields that present unique challenges and rewards.

Nithraid 2014 – Procession and Nithraid Band

I think Dumfries is a town with a lot of potential. I think it has a really nice local community that you struggle to find in other areas. I believe that with our close community values we can make a modern town with more reasons for young people to stay here and build careers.

The most exciting part of the Stove process for me is the involvement it permits. The stove opens up a wide variety of opportunities for people to get involved in, including different types of workshops and events for activities that people would not consider if the Stove was not offering these unique opportunities.


Five books I think everyone should read are Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, The Symposium by Plato, How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky, If On a Winters Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

There are so many songs that I couldn’t live without but if I had to name a few it would be Santeria by Sublime, Emily by the Bill Evans Trio and just every song by a spoken word poet and rapper George Watsky.

I never expected to enjoy volunteering in a charity shop as much as I did. Honestly when I started I thought it would be a fairly quiet standard shop job but I had so much fun and made so many great memories from it.

My passion is music, it means so much to me and it always has. I couldn’t see my life without it.

Find out more about Euan and his music online via his youtube channel here, and his instagram account here.

News Project Updates

blueprint100: an exhibition

blueprint100, The Stove’s emerging artist group have launched their mission for the Spring, to take over Glasgow! blueprint100: an exhibition, will run every Saturday from 12 noon to 4pm at On The Corner, a great wee venue near the Barras on London Road full of energy and enthusiasm.

Working graphics A4 V3

Artists taking part in the exhibition:
Emily Cooper
Sebastian Summers
Hayley Watson
Rhiannon Dewar
Jade Walters
Victoria Blackaby


There will be a closing event to mark the end of the exhibition, details on this coming soon!

Huge thanks to exhibition co-ordinator Michael Moore, artist support Cate Ross, the emergency install team, and the fabulous guys and gals at On The Corner.

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