Thursday, 13 March 2014

My Big Fat Burns Supper

Its about time I wrote down this review, after all I have been telling everyone about it, talking about it and carrying the hype of my local fame about it everywhere!

In case you don’t know, the Big Burns Supper ( is an amazing local festival organised by my new wonderfully creative friends, directed by an extremely talented individual and his band of merry men, women and young people. It brings together a collection of theatre, dramatised performances, singing, comedy, cabaret, kids shows…the lot!

This year I was involved again from a creative point of view but with much more responsibility for the delivery of collaborative and individual projects. This year I was pleased to be involved as an ‘Artist’ and was extremely proud of my Artist Pass. Previously I have helped out with copious amounts of machine sewing for costumes, but this year I was commissioned! Me! COMMISSIONED! For my artistic input, innit! Believe that!

So I worked on a project called Occupy: bringing various different activities into the town centre that reflected how towns were occupied in the past. I hung washing in the High Street. I made recycled sheep (the heads and coats were recycled from last year’s opening show) but I made the wee sheep bodies and the wee (remember to roll your rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’s) tartan coats.

I created three standing pictures for people to poke their heads through and be photographed as Rabbie Burns, Jean Armour or a wee mouse. The pictures were printed for us at a local company but I designed and created the very brightly coloured frames and made all of the structures, including the wee haggis sand bags which held them in place.
I also decorated a car. There were three in the showcase, one painted tartan by Alice, one covered in whitewash with 3D clay Scottish words and a mini art exhibition inside it by Steven and then there was mine. Covered in the local rag, with good news stories and all things Burns related stuck on the top layer for all to read. I took pictures of local people’s navels for filling the windows. Think laterally about the festival and the output of news….Car-naval-News! I think I was the only person who got this tangent link. But it amused me. And that is all I cared.
The cars were placed in random high visibility spots around the town. Mine was outside the coach and horses pub on the white sands. I was very pleased with the final result.

And so were the local press apparently (more to do with the Courier title being plastered all over the back bumper I suspect) Courier? Well it was a car after all! So there I was, back at the day job the following week when I got a call from the press. The next day, I jumped into action, drove to the yard where the car had been returned to and stood under the bonnet, over the bonnet, under the car and beside the car while the photographer took pictures of me and my piece of art. I was in the free local paper that Friday, tipped as ‘Local Artist’. I was most amused and a little bit proud. My friends saw the opportunity to take the mickey, calling me a piss artist more like. I don’t know why.

So BBS 2014 was good for me. It was my first official public recognition of being an artist. And my first commissioned piece of art. It was the first time I had experienced people talking about my work in the street and the first time I had seen my work on other people’s social networking pages. 
It was also the first year that I actually got to experience the festivities myself. 

Although I have been living in Dumfries for a number of years, I had yet to experience the delights on offer from the Big Burns Supper. But this year! This year I enjoyed the Home Coming Carnival, both from being involved in getting it on the road, to walking the route with all the participants. The energy of all involved from the movers and shakers to the lantern makers. It was great to see so many smiles and so much dancing, prancing and waving about!

Over the weekend I watched dramatised performances, musicians, a magic show, a one man and then a one woman show, a choir performance and the most spectacular show of all, Le Haggis Cabaret, set in the divine and sumptuous Speigle tent. Not only did I get to see so much, I got to see so many talented people. I was truly awe struck by the amount of performers that I knew, who had hidden talents displayed for all to enjoy. The amount of people contributing behind the scenes, the people who had returned to or were visiting Dumfries, especially to take part in BBS. The vibe around the town was electric and the range of things to do so eclectic. It made my heart swell with pride for my community. I floated around for the closing events on the Sunday, enjoying the flow and ebb of different people, in different venues. Climaxing with everyone at the Speigle tent for the closing ceremony. By then, warm from beer and enlivened by other peoples inspiring performances, we whooped and cheered everyone to the very end until we were thrown from the belly of the festival.

I have a lot to be grateful to Big Burns Supper for, besides all the incredible shows and wonderful people. I am grateful for the opportunity to work side by side with people far more creative and impressive than myself. Every day I was enthused and inspired. I found inner belief that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I have carried that forward every day since. Moving forward with my creative ventures, loving what that brings to my life, the stimulation, motivation and wonder I have found. So much fun on so many levels.

So a BIG FAT THANKYOU to the Big Burns Supper.