Categories
Musings Projects

Source to Sea: A Reflection

Nithraid River Festival has been running as an annual event for the past eight years and I have had the absolute privilege of being the producer for the last five of them.  Last year’s event saw flood, rain and high winds pushing our team to the limit with adapting last minute to still deliver as much of the event as we physically could. After 2019 we thought, “Well, we’re not going to get anything more difficult than that”. Boy, were we wrong.

When the news hit in March that the entire world was under threat from a global pandemic, we were left with complete uncertainty and dread – much like the rest of the world. What is this thing? Are people going to be safe? How long will it last? When did lockdown and furlough become common words that we use in almost every conversation?

It became apparent very quickly to our team that even though the festival was scheduled to be in August, there was a high chance that the event would have either have to be cancelled completely or we were going to have to try and adapt the festival to a digital format – so we decided to flip Nithraid on its head. We looked at the core values of the festival and the reasons why we do it and who do we do it for?


To cut a long story short – we came to the conclusion that we do it to celebrate the River Nith. We celebrate its history and uses, we celebrate its beauty and we use it to inspire our creativity. We use it to teach our children about the wildlife and environment (special mention goes out to Huffy the Heron!) – but most of all we use it to connect with communities. With all of this in mind, we created the Nith inspired ‘Source to Sea’ project, exploring not just Dumfries but the entire River Nith and the communities that it travels through. Throughout lockdown, it was obvious we were on the right path as all over social media people were photographing the river on their daily walks and were appreciating it as they never had before.

Once we had a concept, the challenging part was trying to figure out how we were going to share all of these elements of the river as well as creating and sharing activities for families and children who were finding themselves stuck at home with little to do. We were delighted to have one of our fantastic funders, the Holywood Trust, on board with our reimagined River Festival. The Holywood Trust were a huge support to Nithraid and our entire team throughout the whole project, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without them – thank you! This scale of online activity was very much new territory but I have the privilege to work with much more tech savvy individuals than myself and we were able to come together to figure out how to present our festival online. I think as it stands, we are now in Version 652 of the project as it turns out there was more than one problem that arose on a very regular basis. I give them all my love and respect for not running away at Version 150 (I will do the embarrassing shout out at the end!)

As we come to the end of our journey, we’ll be pulling all over the research together and sharing it with you in a beautifully designed map, created for us by local artists and graphic designer, Jamie Stryker. This map is the culmination of everyone’s incredibly hard work over the past 6 months. We’ll also be sharing Hugh McMillan’s lovely Source to Sea poem, where he has a dedicated verse for each area that we explored.

One of the hardest things about the lockdown was the difficulty in being able to research and that we were unable to reach out communities and go out and explore. But now we have information, footage and stories about the River Nith that you can use to learn about these communities yourself. I hope the project does what we set out to do and celebrates the river that connects us and brought so many people a sense of calm in amongst the chaos.

Big shout out time!

And a special thanks to Derry and Greg from BattleStations who trekked through the Carsphairn hills with  a lot of kit to try and find footage of the source of the Nith – which turns out wasn’t where I told them, sorry! You got the shot though!

All of those that took the time to chat to us as we were researching the content. One of my favourite moments was when Bob Clements told us the story of the Thornhill’s Rock Festival on the back of a lorry that was plugged into a house!

Finally, a massive thank you to the team that has held this all together. You have done so much more than these basic titles I have written but I have rambled enough and don’t want you thinking I have gone soft.

  • Rob Henderson – web design and master of tech-like witchcraft
  • Kirstin McEwan – marketing and social media queen that makes this stuff look easy!! It’s not!
  • Ruaridh Thi- Smith – project support and all round support to my sanity.
  • Liam Morrison- Gale – community lead & ultimate research Jedi Master
  • Jamie Stryker – Graphic designer and hero that makes the best maps in the whole wide world!
  • Martin O’Neil – Programmer, Word Wizard and keeper of the creativity.
  • Graham Rooney –  Stove Project manager and dude that keeps every single one of us from spontaneous combustion.

Thank you all! All the best,

Sal Cuddihy
Nithraid Producer

Categories
Events News Opportunities

Opportunity: Nithraid Young Artist Commission

We are looking for an artist to create a structure or sculptural piece to support The Salty Coo* and an imaginative or playful way of releasing the Coo into the River Nith.
This is an exciting opportunity for a young person to get involved directly with the event and festival delivery team, and will be supported by an experienced mentor artist who can provide practical support in realising your ideas.
*The Salty Coo is the central emblem of the Nithraid Festival, a sculpture created by artist Stan Bonner, coated in salt that is washed from the sculpture as it is released into the River. When Nithraid has been able to take place as a physical event, the Salty Coo is the focal point of the festival procession and is carried through the town to the rivers edge. In previous years, the Cow Delivery Mechanism has been an elevated platform in the centre of the river, but for 2020 and future years, we would like to commission a new structure.
 

Nithraid River Festival is an annual event celebrating Dumfries’ relationship with the River Nith. Due to the impact of COVID-19, instead of holding our physical festival, we will be hosting an extended celebration of the River Nith across our online platforms.
This year our virtual festival will journey down the River Nith from its source near New Cumnock to the rivers mouth at Carsethorn; engaging with different towns, villages and communities along the way with a 3-month program of activities, artworks, literature, music, information sharing and story telling.
The work could be sited at a variety of points around the river, from the Mill Green, Whitesands, Devorguilla Bridge or the centre of the river – your proposal should create a spectacle for the Coo to be displayed, and then released into the river. We are open to playful and imaginative responses to the brief, and proposals should consider how the work would draw audiences to the festival site.
The selected artist will work with the Festival Manager, Lead Project Artist and an experienced local mentor to support your proposal and develop ambitious, but practical ideas within the available budget. The artist will be supported through skills development and peer learning as appropriate to their proposal, in line with government guidance regarding safe working practice regarding COVID19.
It is anticipated that for the 2020 edition of the festival, the commissioned work (alongside the Salty Coo) will be launched on site without a gathered audience, and will be documented for sharing to our online platforms. The work will then be stored for use again in future Nithraid festivals, when we are safely able to include members of the public.
We are mindful that this role is to be appointed during the COVID-19 pandemic. At all times throughout the duration of the role, the Stove will be following and adhering to all of the official Scottish Government guidance in relation to social distancing measures, safeguarding of individuals & groups and safe work practices.
Eligibility, Budget and Key Dates
Applications between the ages of 16–25 will be prioritised as has been created and funded to benefit young persons within this age group.
The role will commence on the 1stof July 2020, and artwork will be launched to signify the close of our virtual festival and summer programme on Sunday, 27thSeptember 2020.
The total fee for this role including materials is £1,000
We would like to make sure that our recruitment process is as open as possible, if you’d like to discuss any accessibility requirements or have questions about this opportunity, please get in touch with Sal Cuddihy via [email protected] or phone 07497 406511 (Mon-Fri 10-4pm).
To Apply
Please send an email to  [email protected] with a maximum file size of 10MB with the following:

  • A proposal (max. 500 words) outlining how you would approach the commission
  • A current CV
  • Up to 3 examples of past work that you feel supports your application

The deadline for receiving submissions is 10pm on Monday 22nd June.
Interviews for the commissions will be held virtually on Friday 26th June. By applying you are deemed to be making yourself available for interview on this date.
We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again by email.

We are grateful for the support from the Holywood Trust in funding this role. 

 

Categories
Events News Opportunities

Opportunity: Nithraid Project Support Role


Nithraid River Festival is usually an annual event celebrating the town of Dumfries’s relationship with the River Nith. Due to the impact of COVID-19, we have decided to have an extended celebration of the Nith across our online platforms.  
Our aim is to engage with the public and create a platform resource for learning, sharing and creating.  
This is an exciting opportunity for a young person to get involved directly with the event and festival delivery team to help make the festival more accessible to a younger audience. This year we will journey down the River Nith, from its source near New Cumnock to the Rivers end at Carsethorn, engaging with different towns, villages and communities along the way with a 3-month program of activities, artworks, literature, music, information sharing and story telling.  
We will deliver this programme across our social media platforms and develop the Nithraid website as a community resource with plans for collaborating with other organisations as well as online workshops, artworks and challenges with a focus on the River Nith as a connector and the wildlife that exists in and around the River. Nithraid Festival will commence on 1st of July and run to the end of September.
We are looking for the Project Support role to focus on engaging younger audiences and to contribute to the program of activity by targeting & collaborating with local youth groups. They will work closely (virtually), and be supported by the Festival Manager, Festival Marketing & Social Media Officer and festival Graphic Designer to get the widest range of experience in learning and skills development.  
Ideally applicants will have some previous marketing, social media and/or community engagement experience, be comfortable using computers and social media platforms and be aged 16 to 30. 
This post will commence on the 22nd June and finish on Wednesday 7th of October and will consist of a total of 24 Days or 1.5 days per week.  
We would like to make sure that our recruitment process is as open as possible, so if you’d like to discuss any accessibility requirements, or have questions about the opportunity in general, please get in touch with Sal Cuddihy via [email protected] or phone 07497 406511 (Mon-Fri 10-4pm). 
We are mindful that this role is to be appointed during the Covid 19 pandemic. At all times throughout the duration of the work, the Stove will be following and adhering to all of the official Scottish Government Guidance in relation to Social distancing measures, safeguarding of individuals & groups and safe work practices. 
 
The total fee for this role is £1,800 (24 Days at £75 per day). 
To Apply:  
Please send an email to  [email protected]hestove.org with a maximum file size of 10MB with the following: 

  • A statement of no more than 500 words outlining how you would approach this commission. 
  • A current CV 
  • Up to 2 examples of past work that you feel supports your application  

The deadline for receiving submissions is 10pm on Sunday 14th June.   
Interviews for the commissions will be held virtually on Wednesday 17th June. By applying you are deemed to be making yourself available for interview on this date.  
 We will always send an email acknowledging receipt of any applications. If you do not receive an email, please contact us again  by email.  
 

We are grateful for the support from the Hollywood Trust in funding this role. 

 

Categories
Musings Opportunities

Mentoring and Collaborative Learning: Nithlight

As part of this years Nithraid Festival, The Stove commissioned artists Emily Tough and Philip Mairs to create ‘Nithlight’, a temporary light and audio installation for the Mill Green to close this years event.

Artist, illustrator and Stove member Stephen Pickering joined the team to mentor and support Emily Tough’s role.

“My minor input was in the form of mentoring Emily Tough, who undertook part of the design and construction of the public art sculpture for this event. The mentoring process went surprisingly well, and Emily was quick to learn, and keen to use any newly learned skills. She had strong ideas on what she wanted and how the finished sculpture would look and function, I merely helped by filling in the missing practical knowledge and experience.”

“This mentoring was by no means a one way process and lively discussions took place both before and during the construction-fabrication stage. From Emily I learned some new approaches regarding the promoting of my own business, and gained considerable confidence in my ability to pass on existing personal skills and knowledge while making myself and my processes readily understood.”

The final build for Nithlight, included the installation and rigging of ‘sails’ on the Mill Green which became projection surfaces for the digital content created by Philip – the inspiration and collaboration of which more can be read here: https://thestove.org/nithlight-by-night-a-reflection/

Stephen’s first involvement with the Stove, was through organising and running a series of illustration workshops in partnership with illustrator Mark Toner. Stephen is an artist, maker and illustrator with a studio and workshop based in Nithsdale.

One of the exciting opportunities of the Stove’s Network is the potential for collaborative learning with artists, creatives and others across a whole range of ideas and projects. The skills and expertise existing across Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderful resource, and many of us have something to contribute to each other. In the future, The Stove hopes to become better at gathering, including and sharing this potential in our projects and works – keep your eyes peeled for information coming soon to Stove members.

If you are not a Stove member, and would like to become one, find out more here: https://thestove.org/membership/

Categories
Events Musings

The Salty Coo Procession 2019

From Jordan Chisholm

“Wow! Nithraid 2019, you really were something else. I can’t quite believe I have to let go of you now; your procession has taken up many of my daily thoughts over the past few months.

This year you were unique, a little bit of a chancer, very salty and many of us learnt something new from you whilst asking important questions along the way.

I began to conceive the idea of the Nithraid 2019 procession when I was feeling inspired by what it means to “belong” alongside the want to work with different communities. I hoped for the procession to become a celebration of what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer, whilst creating a space for people to meet and connect with those they haven’t before. It is easy to believe that nothing ever happens here and question what there is to celebrate – but I believe that together we can do so much, so let’s try it.

Throughout June to the end of August, with support from the Blueprint100 team and The Stove Network, we contacted over 100 community groups from Dumfries and Galloway (yes, there really are that many!) encouraging them to make a banner in celebration of who they are, with a hope that they would then walk in our procession and become a part of the day. We had great fun throughout these workshops, and although challenged by the summer holidays, we met many new faces, conversed with people of all ages, heard many fascinating stories and connected with one another in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to before, whilst spreading the word about Nithraid and our Salty Coo.

“Pagan” means belonging or relating to a modern religion that includes beliefs and activities that are not from any of the main religions of the world (for example, the worship of nature). When I discovered this, I was keen to take this idea in to the procession. Imagine what the worship of community could look like. Imagine community as a religion. One which owns its own magic and is inclusive of all. I began to think more about where our beliefs come from, what Dumfries’ beliefs are, rituals and blessings; that is where much of the vision came from.With salt at the heart of this year’s overall Nithraid theme, it felt right to use this material as the source of action for the performers in the procession. Salt has many attributes, including being used for healing and sanctuary. Together, we spread salt throughout the high street in an offering of protection and safety for all our communities. Worshiping the place many of us call home. The 2019 Nithraid procession became a subtle disruption to a normal Saturday morning in Dumfries Town Centre. One which made people look twice as they walked on by. A moving image, a ritual, a blessing, a memory, an ephemeral moment, a discovery, many hearts and one community.

This experience was a huge collaboration from the very beginning to the very end and could not have been made possible without all those involved, including community groups, The Stove Network team, performers, musicians, costume designers, make-up artists, Salty Coo carriers and volunteers. I will never forget it.

Community is about doing something together, that makes belonging matter. We are community.

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due,

Here is the salt and here is the coo, let the river have its due.”

Jordan Chisholm is an artist and a current member of the blueprint100 curatorial team. Find out more about blueprint100 via their website here

Categories
Events Musings

Nithlight by Night, a Reflection

By Philip Mairs

With the theme of this years Nithraid festival being salt and ritual – including salt’s local, historical and mythical uses – we thought of a way to combine all three of these things into something that could form the basis of Nithlight.

Nithlight 2019

Upon finding out about the Celtic connection to the history of salt in the South-West Scotland region, we thought about using vibrational acoustic-phenomena to create patterns in the element of salt. A lot of these patterns appear surprisingly Celtic. For the Celts, the Earth and its elements, including all water and salt, were sacred.This idea was made possible by using a vibrating metal ‘Chladni’ plate, so called because following the pioneering experiments of Robert Hooke in the 1600s, it is the German physicist Ernst Chladni’s name that became most associated with these figures.

We set about filming the patterns emerging on our own plate, with the intention of beaming the projection over a maze of ship masts.

The ship masts were to replicate an old galleon ship, used for trading in the 1700’s. We then began to extend this narrative out by introducing reworked old seaman’s recipes and orientating our soundscape around water, grainy sounds and symmetrical patterning. We also wanted to give context to the projected video, and so thought that having the source for the images on site in an ‘obelisk’ type structure that people could sing into in order to create patterns themselves would be compelling; creating an immediate connection between creation and content.

Despite it looking like the event might have to be called off due to the Scottish summer in full flow, the event went ahead as planned. The ship sculpture provided an intriguing backdrop to people (and the occasional animal) singing and howling into the microphone, often watching patterns emerging as they would do so.

The feeling of old seafaring was enhanced by the provision of the some of the only kinds of food and drink that would last on voyages- in this case those being hard, salty biscuits; along with homemade ginger beer.

We also enjoyed the workshop we hosted earlier on in the day, where we were able to give people an up-close experience of Cymatics, from one of its original methods- bowing of metal plates with a violin bow; to one of its more recent related developments of the plate being driven by a loudspeaker. ___

Nithlight was a commission as part of Nithraid 2019, led by artists Emily Tough and Philip Mairs. The commission was supported by The Holywood Trust.

All image credits: Jamie Thomson, see his Facebook page here for details.

Nithraid 2019

The tide is high and Nithraid is back! ⛵️ Taking place on Saturday 31st August, 2019 from 12noon until 4pm. Nithraid is FREE to attend and take part!
Nithraid is a community-led River Festival beside and on Dumfries’ River Nith. This years event starts off with a race for sailing, coastal rowing and other craft – each racing up river on the highest tide of the year, and finishing over the line below the caul in the centre of Dumfries. The Salty Coo parades through the town centre as part of our procession and awaits the arrival of the boats from the centre of the river Nith.
On the Mill Green we have a jam-packed day of family fun with the Nithraid village, including:
📌 Live Music
📌 Food stalls
📌 Creative Workshops
📌 Family friendly activities for all ages!
For the third year, we will be hosting Nithraid Nighttime from 7pm – this year many of the pubs in the town are getting involved and presenting an amazing array of local musical talent. Whilst you are wandering between gigs, also visit a specially commissioned light installation called ‘Nithlight’. The installation takes place on the Mill Green and the River Nith to be experienced from a distance and close up during the hours of darkness.
Interested in taking part in this years sailing or coastal rowing races? Download the race form and details from our website: www.thestove.org/nithraid or email [email protected]

Nithraid 2019

The tide is high and Nithraid is back! ⛵️ Taking place on Saturday 31st August, 2019 from 12noon until 4pm. Nithraid is FREE to attend and take part!
Nithraid is a community-led River Festival beside and on Dumfries’ River Nith. This years event starts off with a race for sailing, coastal rowing and other craft – each racing up river on the highest tide of the year, and finishing over the line below the caul in the centre of Dumfries. The Salty Coo parades through the town centre as part of our procession and awaits the arrival of the boats from the centre of the river Nith.
On the Mill Green we have a jam-packed day of family fun with the Nithraid village, including:
📌 Live Music
📌 Food stalls
📌 Creative Workshops
📌 Family friendly activities for all ages!
For the third year, we will be hosting Nithraid Nighttime from 7pm – this year many of the pubs in the town are getting involved and presenting an amazing array of local musical talent. Whilst you are wandering between gigs, also visit a specially commissioned light installation called ‘Nithlight’. The installation takes place on the Mill Green and the River Nith to be experienced from a distance and close up during the hours of darkness.
Interested in taking part in this years sailing or coastal rowing races? Download the race form and details from our website: www.thestove.org/nithraid or email [email protected]

Nithraid 2019

The tide is high and Nithraid is back! ⛵️ Taking place on Saturday 31st August, 2019 from 12noon until 4pm. Nithraid is FREE to attend and take part!
Nithraid is a community-led River Festival beside and on Dumfries’ River Nith. This years event starts off with a race for sailing, coastal rowing and other craft – each racing up river on the highest tide of the year, and finishing over the line below the caul in the centre of Dumfries. The Salty Coo parades through the town centre as part of our procession and awaits the arrival of the boats from the centre of the river Nith.
On the Mill Green we have a jam-packed day of family fun with the Nithraid village, including:
📌 Live Music
📌 Food stalls
📌 Creative Workshops
📌 Family friendly activities for all ages!
For the third year, we will be hosting Nithraid Nighttime from 7pm – this year many of the pubs in the town are getting involved and presenting an amazing array of local musical talent. Whilst you are wandering between gigs, also visit a specially commissioned light installation called ‘Nithlight’. The installation takes place on the Mill Green and the River Nith to be experienced from a distance and close up during the hours of darkness.
Interested in taking part in this years sailing or coastal rowing races? Download the race form and details from our website: www.thestove.org/nithraid or email [email protected]

Nithraid 2019

The tide is high and Nithraid is back! ⛵️ Taking place on Saturday 31st August, 2019 from 12noon until 4pm. Nithraid is FREE to attend and take part!
Nithraid is a community-led River Festival beside and on Dumfries’ River Nith. This years event starts off with a race for sailing, coastal rowing and other craft – each racing up river on the highest tide of the year, and finishing over the line below the caul in the centre of Dumfries. The Salty Coo parades through the town centre as part of our procession and awaits the arrival of the boats from the centre of the river Nith.
On the Mill Green we have a jam-packed day of family fun with the Nithraid village, including:
📌 Live Music
📌 Food stalls
📌 Creative Workshops
📌 Family friendly activities for all ages!
For the third year, we will be hosting Nithraid Nighttime from 7pm – this year many of the pubs in the town are getting involved and presenting an amazing array of local musical talent. Whilst you are wandering between gigs, also visit a specially commissioned light installation called ‘Nithlight’. The installation takes place on the Mill Green and the River Nith to be experienced from a distance and close up during the hours of darkness.
Interested in taking part in this years sailing or coastal rowing races? Download the race form and details from our website: www.thestove.org/nithraid or email [email protected]