I’m writing this blog, unaware of what I am going to have said by the end of it. I think this is because I’m writing it in a time I have never experienced before. The vast amount of uncertainty that is surrounding myself, us and the future is influencing the simplest of things.
I am reminded that these feelings are familiar, they are similar to what I experienced at the very beginning of my Blueprint100 journey; I knew it was happening, but I had no idea of where it was going to take me or what I was going to discover.
My background is in social care, theatre and contemporary performance. You can find out a little more about me here www.jordanchisholm.com. In short, I made the decision, upon graduating, to move back to Dumfries with an aim to be a part of helping to make the town a better place for young creatives (and myself). I am very fond of Dumfries, it has had a huge impact on the person I have become and I believe that if you have the passion to make something/somewhere that once did good for you that little bit better, then we should try.
I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to do this, so the plan was to trust in my process of leaving and returning. I have always been an advocate for The Stove Network and looked, from afar, in awe of the work they do. I 100% did not think I would ever work alongside them in the way I have now.
I was very fortunate to gain my position on the blueprint100 curatorial team fresh out of university; being employed by an arts organisation was an honest dream come true, but not without a little imposter syndrome. I remember having lots of “I don’t know if this place is for me” thoughts along with “omg, what am I doing, I am not this kind of artist” thoughts. I was forever challenging and re-thinking how to describe my work without practicing any of the work (haha!). I was thirsty for experience outside my comfort zone with a small vision of some things I would like to see happen.
My time with blueprint100 and The Stove Network has been incredible. It has been testing, eye-opening, uncomfortable, safe, uplifting and warm. I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, to try and fail and try again and get some things right whilst learning how to respond to the things that don’t go how you once wanted them to.
Some highlights, for me, were being given the lead artist role for the Nithraid 2019 Salty Coo Parade; this project allowed me the opportunity to pay many young artists to contribute to this day (some from my own uni class, which felt liberating!). You can read my short blog post about the Nithraid 2019 procession here: https://thestove.org/nithraid-procession-2019/.
Gaining first-hand experience in co-producing the debut of Behavin? - a DIY micro-festival of performance, live art and music in an upside-down world held on Dumfries High Street. Behavin’ was about new spaces, new worlds, radical gatherings and new work from the weirdest corners of the mind. The 2019 Behavin’ explored play, permission and public space alongside a whole host of weird and wonderful projects and people. This project gave me the chance to explore the role of producing, something I had always been interested in but never had the capacity to do.
This experience enabled me to then create and produce Blueprint100’s Mental Health Week, a 7-day exhibition and programme of events dedicated to acknowledging our mental well-being through sharing stories and moments which could otherwise be left unheard. This small project encouraged us to embrace all that it means to be fully human whilst opening a wider conversation about mental health and the role art and care plays in this.
Although my time with Blueprint100 has been full of fantastic opportunities like these, it has also supported me through a time of transition from student to freelance human. I use the word human, over artist, because I believe it better describes the work I do and those of my colleagues and collaborators. It’s anything and everything that comes together to make us, us. The “artist in residence” feel to this internship has done wonders for my confidence. I am beginning to understand the value in saying no and not always being able to have it all. I am prepared for the next chapter, with an awareness that its tough out here.
A few months ago, I realised that I was going to find myself in yet another period of transition, one in which does not know its next destination. Through conversations with blueprint100, The Stove and Sleeping Giants these thoughts gave birth to my final blueprint100 project – The Gap – in collaboration with colleague, and friend, Claire Bell. The Gap explores the instability of creative career paths, the gaps that appear during times of transition, when you feel unsure of what opportunities are available, how to access them, or even uncertain of what you would like to do. Through this project, we hoped to discover some answers to what is most needed in Dumfries and Galloway, as support for people who find themselves in these positions. Claire and I have had a very valuable experience on this project so far and you will hear more about this and our findings in the future.
To end, I would like to call attention to my view of “omg I am not this kind of artist” and how this has completely changed. You don’t have to be any kind of anything, you just have to be you and trust that you are in the right place; The Stove Network certainly was the right place for me and I very much look forward to working with them again in the future. It could quite possibly be the very right place for you too.
I am leaving my Blueprint100 position as someone with strong humanitarian ethics, who believes in the spirit of community, creativity and care, who wants to empower and enable others to use their voice and share their stories with the world.
A huge thank you, to each and every stove team member for the time we have shared together. A special thank you to Kat, Matt, Ailsa and Debz – whose mentoring has been of upmost importance and somehow, always seem to “get it.”