Katie Anderson

Artist based in South West Scotland; interested in people, places, materials and collaborative practice.

Tag: the stove

Art in Public [Space]

The label public art brings out a wide range of responses from people. Large scale commemorative bronze statues of colonial figures come to mind for many, gentrification and urban development art-washing, permanence, concrete elephants, community murals and ideas set in stone. It’s still deeply unfashionable within the art community, having met lots of people who give surprised looks at any genuine interest in the subject.

There is enough cause for much of this – there is plenty of ill-conceived art dotted about the place, without care and attention this is an area that can grow anything from apathy to division, alienating people from their environments.

But enough of the negativity – public art also has the ability to allow people to impact on their surroundings, have a say in how space is used, take back control and question for who and what are public spaces designed?

I began a series of open ended conversations, with a variety of interesting people working across art in public space in a variety of ways. Common topics started to emerge: environmental art, land art, art and healthcare, climate change, playful approaches to public art, residencies, outsider art, community art, David Harding and the Glasgow School of Art’s Environmental Art course, the Artist Placement Group, the Scottish Town Artists, architecture, education, contemporary land issues, collaboration, instagram and permission.

Conversations were held in artists studios, out in the landscape, in busy coffee shops and quiet offices. Although some similarities appeared, each conversation was unique, reflecting the broad approach of artists, architects and designers to the subject. Permanence falters, but isn’t lost. The identity of the artist blurs, but doesn’t entirely vanish. The support networks to make new work happen continue to change and adapt with the current climates.

As the project developed, we continued to add more voices, in the form of open platform discussions, and an artists booth on the High Street asking Who is it For? Who Decides?

Hopefully, this is just the beginning. You can hear some of the recorded conversations online, Part One here and Part Two here. You can download our map or permanent art works in Dumfries here. And read more about the project here.

Special thank you to everyone who participated and joined in the conversation, and to all the artists who were willing to be recorded for the project. All image credits to Kirstin McEwan.

Art in Public [Space]

I’ve spent the past two months, curating/creating a new exhibition exploring art in public in all of it’s different forms. The exhibition runs for just a week in The Stove, but forms part of a month of activity, including film screenings, discussions and pop up events in the town centre.

The exhibition comprises of a sound installation, featuring extracts of conversation with seven different creative people who are approaching art in public space in very different manners, from architects to sign lettering artists, environmental artists to sculptors and discussing everything from performance, the history of public art, community art, the inspirations and challenges behind making work within a public realm.

We’ve also produced a map of permanent artworks in the town centre which you can pick up from the Stove.

Special thanks to everyone who took the time to have a conversation with me.

Join in! Check out www.thestove.org/events for further details. #ArtInPublicSpace #ConversingBuilding
This is part of A Year of Conversation, a series of events and conversations happening across Scotland in 2019. Find out more online #AYOC2019.

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Wave Decay

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Site Specificity.

Step outwards and pause, listen.

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Sound. Wave | Decay.

The announcement of a new collaborative project with Justin K Prim, exploring a favourite, secretive spot in Annandale. Walk out into the world, neither rose tinted nor of true reality. Tune in to space.

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Keep your ears pricked. Approach with caution. It’s wild out there.

18th and 19th of August 2016. Annandale. Details to be announced soon.

With thanks to DGUnlimited and The Stove Network.

Beyond Doubt into Love with The Stove Network

Sometimes things start small.

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Really small. Like the time we were asking members of the Young Stove to envisage what The Stove could be for them and Lauren came up with this wee drawing. It’s lived on our wall and we’ve loved it a lot. It even came to The Stove when we moved back in and his it’s own new spot on the wall. That sort of love.

The Stove has quite a lot to say, but we are often just as interested in what everyone else has to say. If Dumfries could speak, what would it say? Cue speak bubbles (which are EVERYWHERE if you hadn’t noticed):

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We asked about. We asked on Twitter, asked on the streets, asked our friends, families, asked our favourite cafes, and then asked some more folk for good measure. Responses started to flood in, and orange bubbles started to appear across town. What places have the loudest voices? Big thanks to Herald Moxie and members of the Young Stove for championing the speech bubble conversations. More speech bubble conversations available on The Stove website here and here

What of these calls-to-arms could we sign up to? Which of these speaking shop fronts or town-centre-icons could give a slogan for Dumfries?

Time to call in an expert. Our expert on hand for this particular project was talented and patient printmaker and artist Sarah Keast. An island of calm amongst apparent chaos, the Stove turned ship sailing in a wild afternoon of frenzied t-shirt printing.

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The Young Stove proved themselves to be the real stars of the moment, an unstoppable tide of ceaseless creative energy in a slightly chaotic afternoon that saw near 140 t-shirts printed in four hours. On a school day. (Yes, really.)

In the end there were a selection of nine designs, none the clear winner.

Be Inspired By What You Didn’t Think You Would Be.

Be the Action!

Beyond Doubt Into Love.

Clean Up Your Act.

End the Ghosttown.

Let Change Happen.

Practical Acts and Good Craic.

Reclaim the High Street.

#saveme.

Beyond doubt

Beyond Doubt Into Love may well be a t-shirt for a moment in time, a fleeting gesture of an aspirational young movement in an otherwise sleepy town. On the otherhand, it could be a stance against the indifference, the naysayers and the ay’ beens. A call to action that says now is the time, and here is the place. One things for sure, this design in neon pink went down a treat and is already sought-after.

This is less of an end, and more of a beginning – keep an eye out for speech bubbles: once you start noticing them, they tend to pop up all over the place…

#GetDumfriesTalking

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To read the blog in full and in it’s original context, head on over to The Stove’s blog where you can stay up to date with all the latest cool happenings in Dumfries – do it now, here

So that was Parking Space…

You can read more about my latest project with the stove network, Parking Space, over on the stove’s website here

Parking Space: Underground car park Cinema The Stove Network Image: Colin Tennant Palace Cinema: Alice Francis

Parking Space: Underground car park Cinema
The Stove Network
Image: Colin Tennant
Palace Cinema: Alice Francis

Parking Space The Stove Network Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space
The Stove Network
Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space The Stove Network Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space
The Stove Network
Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space The Stove Network Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space
The Stove Network
Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space The Stove Network AGM 2014 Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space
The Stove Network AGM 2014
Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space The Stove Network Image: Galina Walls

Parking Space
The Stove Network and Mutual Motion
Image: Galina Walls

Full image set available on the stove’s Flickr page here

But is it art?

As ever, post project, the cogs finally start whirring and something close to cohesiveness starts to emerge from the fog that has been intensive creation, production, etc

Working as part of the stove network has led me down a different route in some senses in tends of artistic output, as for the first time in a long time I step away – albeit, cautiously – from the realm of the art object.

Love an art object.

Love an art object…

I’ve long been interested in the notion of socially-engaged artwork, and of something more ephemeral, less permanent or perhaps fleeting has long been a fascination of mine. Lately, we have come to the age old question, ‘but is it art?’ on more than one project which has led me to wonder why, when any object can be considered an artwork, as can many sounds, actions, movements and words be considered artworks, why this can not be further disseminated into the [realm] of events:

An artistic outcome as a gathering, a dinner

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Image: Galina Walls Photography. Parking Space. The Stove Network.

An artistic outcome as the creation of a space, the curation of a space

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Image: Cate Ross. Parking Space. The Stove Network.

The event as an artwork

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Image: Galina Walls Photography. Nithraid 2014. The Stove Network.

By contextualising, framing a moment in time as an artist (discuss authorship of such events), the work seeks to engage an audience in a deeper connection, awareness, experience of a place.

This, to me, seems a logical progression from the site-specific artwork, of which I have long been interested in.

The lead artist (again, see authorship) is then responsible for creation – physically, visually, conceptually – the space, the site, the place.

This space is then activated through the (perhaps, temporary) inhabitation, or occupation (occupy, difficult word) of that space by people, through activities, events, actions or gatherings initiated by the lead artist. Each of these actions allows the audience to experience the space in a different manner, either through direct physical experience, discussion and exchange, etc. In this way, the audience become an inherent part of the artwork. The artist as facilitator, the audience as [creators, illuminators, activators?].

In this sense it can become a fully community/participatory/public artwork as without the activation of the space, the installation effectively becomes another utopian artists vision, the isolated hermit-artist’s studio.

Authorship:    This is a curious one, highlighted in part thanks to Situations New Rules of Public Art no. 08: “Share ownership freely, but authorship wisely.” Artists are not always all-seeing and all-knowing, could these events evolve and change outwith the artist’s original intentions without disrupting the nature of it’s being art? If we are all artists (thanks Joseph Beuys), then perhaps once ‘created’, the artwork can be informed and influenced by those present – the audience as activators. Perhaps many of those in the audience can also be artists, and further instigate change as an organic and evolving mechanism that shapes and forms the ‘artwork’. [More thought required]

Uula Jero and his magnificent pedal-powered Foundry

Casting has excited me since art school. The excessive amounts of process, technical skill application (or not, as is often in my case), and the transformation of objects through process has had me hooked. Last year, the stove network teamed up with Roddy Mathieson‘s inspirational Mobile Foundry as part of the Creetown Ferrythorn project, where we cast a new bronze bell for the village out of the old blacksmith’s shop (full details of the project available here).

Metal casting can be seen as a bit magical, mystical and unknown; the skill levels required, the production and preparation in casting – for example – a bell, are hugely time consuming and outwith most people’s capabilities. It’s never really stopped me from trying anyways… The lack of kit and facilities also gets in the way. But, never one’s to do things by halves, the stove hit upon the notion of creating a foundry to become part of our growing kit this year and after a bit of searching around we met Uula Jero.

Specialising in pedal-powered machines and utility bikes, Uula came up with the grand idea of a pedal-powered foundry, that could be cycled about town, and after a few design sessions, set up in his workshop near Balmaclellan. Meanwhile we began honeing our casting skills…

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Honeing the power of the foundry also took a few shots…

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A ‘little’ practice saw our cuttlefish shell casting techniques improve astronomically when testing pewter buttons for the Nithraid prize

Sand casting early spoon tests… we'll maybe leave that one till next time...

Sand casting early spoon tests… we’ll maybe leave that one till next time…

Although, as fun as it is to shut the door to the workshop, and fill my car with cuttlefish bones (cuttlefish girl had better not be the sort of name that sticks…), this was only ever preparation ahead of taking the foundry on it’s inaugral outing to the stove’s Nithraid in Dumfries.

Organised chaos ensued. As the Whitesands flooded with people, rather than river as it is so renowned, word spread, and nearly 80 people designed and created their own Nithraid buttons over the course of the afternoon.

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Image: Galina Walls.

Huge thanks to the whole team who helped out on Nithraid day, and made the whole thing manageable, including Ruth, Hannah, Sara and David.

Back to the drawing board.

Because of course, doing something once is one thing, but after a few tweaks, alterations, a lot more cuttlefish, and a material change (did you know you can cast thirty spoons out of a single bicycle frame?) – Uula and his family departed for Wigtown Book Festival as part of the stove’s Trading Journeys – on bikes.

These were of course, no ordinary bikes - with the pedal powered foundry in one, and Uunti and Arnii in the other - they headed across the Galloway Forest Park.

These were of course, no ordinary bikes – with the pedal powered foundry in one, and Uunti and Arnii in the other – they headed across the Galloway Forest Park. Image: Colin Hattersley

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The pedal-powered bouncy castle fan fed oxygen into the charcoal fueled furnace Image: Colin Tennant

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The first of the spoons are unveiled. A limited edition run of 45 aluminium spoons were cast as part of the Trading Journeys project. Image: Colin Tennant

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Matt Baker’s lucky 45 spoon

Notes towards Thinking: Public Art

Eyes down. Nose to the grindstone.

The Stove is everything. Studio practise has been on hold the past couple of months, though this is not necessarily a bad thing – an elongated pause.

That bit of needed focus which I found up at SSW has been applied to collective Stove work since my return.

Our trip to Bordeaux allowed for (amongst other things) a collective focusing, and with it a discovery of the true potential of this heightened, extended, collective focus.

Knowing public art is one of my big obsessions currently as I try to understand and focus my excitement and interests.

‘Have some art and everything will be better.’

Perhaps rather than ‘have some’ this should be a more active ‘make some’.

Back2Back Dumfries - last year at the Stove on Guid Nychburris Day

Back2Back Dumfries – last year at the Stove on Guid Nychburris Day. Stencils designed by youth group YES

The nature of involving communities, engaging communities in a collective and collaborative public art process, in a way that is meaningful and inspiring.

Public art projects that could become a call to action, a means for equipping local residents with new creative ways of engaging with their surroundings.

Lisa Gallacher's flags form part of the Creetown Ferry Bell alongside the A75 on the edge of the village

Way marking/signposting sculpture/art. Lisa Gallacher’s flags form part of the Creetown Ferry Bell alongside the A75 on the edge of the village

Meaningful decision making

Voicing opinions

Encouraging a positive, but driven mentality towards a sense of collective contribution, ownership and a shared sense of potential.

Approach.

“So perhaps, instead of asking what state the local economy is in, we should ask what people want their local economy to become!” (NEF, Plugging the Leaks. Page 6) 

Can public art be the means for asking these right questions?

Opening perspectives, encouraging involvement, collectivity, a sense of shared-ness.

Three words for Dumfries. Part of the Nithraid 2013

Asking the right questions. Three words for Dumfries. Part of the Nithraid 2013. Photo: Colin Tennant

How do we create the best mechanisms for discussion?

Familiarity.

Becoming embedded within the local psyche.

Who constitutes ‘local’?

Breaking down barriers.

The physical presence of the artist/arts group/centre/HQ/brain feels somewhat integral to reaching these goals. From projects taking over empty shops or taking to the streets, hands on engagement.

What is discussion?

What are the goals of discussion?

What are the next steps after discussion, and how are these best reached?

I realise my exposure to public art is too limited. And that I am all questions, and half gibbered notes written late at night.

The Stove’s next project is taking to the streets on Guid Nychburris Day.

Window Dressing…

Eagle eyed Dumfries shoppers may have noticed my telephones making something of an appearance on the High Street recently… Matt took a turn of the Stove’s windows for a couple of weeks. Windmills may have proved the most controversial, although as of yet there’s not even been a complaint in the Standard so by all accounts, a quiet turn for the Stove!

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Back 2 Back – Reflecting

Well we did it – Back 2 Back Dumfries was a hit! 

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It was not high art, it wasn’t avant-garde, revolutionary or entirely unique. 

But.

We did engage, provoke responses, open up, share, reach a new audience (if you’re old enough to hold a spray can, you’re old enough to be a stovie?!) We raised awareness, increased involvement, participation, sharing and making.

Spraying the pavement caused people to look, to re-examine; it changed the way passers by moved through they space. It created a break, a momentary pause – a slight change in the everyday. It encouraged our new young army to engage with the space; to interact, invade, explore.

We had huge take up from the younger years – to try something new, different, forbidden. By barricading off sections of the high street, we gave permission for the impermissible. Creation and experimentation ensued. Kids came back, to test, explore, learn.

The final visual impact, the details, were in some way irrelevant in this matter, as the overall visual spectacle took precedence. The stop motion cam witnessed the transformation of space, and the movement of bodies throughout.

But the devil was too, in the detail – for the original youth group, a bunch ranging from 15 to 21 – the designs were their abstract creations, thoughts become tangible. Permanent through stencils, and repeated all across the street.

I guess I’m feeling quite proud about the whole thing. I headed back to the Stove, quietly, calmly on Sunday to begin the mopping and cleaning process now that I have successfully covered the inside in a thin layer of black. Outside I could hear the screams and laughs as children took over the front of our building, re-examining and exploring the new brightly coloured space.

It’s already fading.

The impact remains.

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(Hopefully!)

Video to follow – watch this space!