Traditional Cow

From Katie Anderson


Where do traditions come from?

Who are the tradition makers?

Towns have grown out from the land as centres for market, trade, commerce and exchange, and since become disconnected from those lands. Our food, so plentifully stacked in plastic wrappers on the supermarket shelves we buy, so far removed from the environments they once came from.

The Salty Cow stands as the last, lone beast – calling from the banks of the Nith for a return. Once a year, cow makes the same ceremonial journey, ending in the fords of the river awaiting fresh arrivals on the changing tides. Salty Cow calls for change, from cow’s unique perspective high above the centre of the Nith.

Cow calls the annual gathering along the banks of the river, calls the visitors upriver, calls for a focus of energies, calls for fresh approaches and new life.

Cow both calls to the past and calls for the future, do you hear?

The boats as gift bearers push upriver on the tide. The river as life-blood of the town moves on the tides. The salt as elemental energy gifted to the town’s artery-river merges with the river flow. Cow at the centre of it all.

Where will the traditions of the future come from?

Who will be part of making our future traditions?


Nithraid was concieved as a public artwork to activate the riverside in Dumfries in the summer of 2013, and bring new focus and people down to celebrate the Nith. Now in it’s third year Dumfries is preparing to welcome sailors up river to the heart of the town when Nithraid 2015 will sail into town on Sunday, 2nd of August. Nithraid is free and open to all to attend, and last year saw crowds of 4,000 lining the banks to watch the winning boats cross the finish line. Find out more about this years Nithraid here

The discussion is open, and we invite contributions to our artistic conversations – whether you have been involved in Nithraid in previous years, are interested in the changing face of public art and when a sailing race is also an artwork, please get in touch via the comments box below or to send your contribution please email