This year marks 10 years since the Creative Dundee blog was born! We’ve already celebrated with a number of features as well as a mind-blowing Pecha Kucha at Dundee Rep. June marks another important date, today we will be sending out our 50th News Mail Out!
Like all the work at Creative Dundee, the News Mail Out has been a tool helping amplify key voices in the city, casting a light the amazing events happening across the city, promoting connections and collaborations as well as a shared sense of a creative community. So, in order to celebrate we decided to do something a little different:
We have compiled a list of makers in the city who you should know about, recommended by other makers who have done amazing work and in some way inspired us. It is important to say that we did not want to make a ‘Most Influential’ list or a ranking of any sort. Instead, this is a list that sheds light on incredible things happening in the city which you can connect with or begin to follow, and we hope will improve your creative experience of the city.
A list like this is nowhere near comprehensive and should be a living thing. If you want to share other names we should all be following, use the hashtag #CreativeDundee on social media and let’s amplify some creative voices!
Director of OpenClose Dundee, recommends…
Jon has been following Open/Close and volunteered to make a fantastic documentary on the project. His approach is to always use mobile devices – which almost all of us have – along with free software to shoot and edit films and show that anyone can make their own. He runs workshops with kids and adults to promote this and is very passionate about his work and an all-round great guy to work with! He has a great way of making people easy in front of the camera as well.
With absolutely no experience of working on a large scale, Jo has created one of our largest artworks and her work ethic was absolutely fantastic, coming back to her piece almost every day for 2 weeks. She creates beautiful, brightly coloured abstract works – painting, silks and ceramics – which are based on the rocks and rivers of this part of Scotland, to help foster a connection between people and nature.
Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, recommends…
Andrew is a hyper-talented songwriter and musician whose work takes in the world and refracts it through a Dundee lens. Beautiful and evocative, it’s impossible to listen to his music and not be moved.
Steph’s jewellery and homeware are minimal and quietly humorous, using pattern and illustration to create pieces she calls ‘imperfectly unique‘, which is a perfect description. Her work is a staple gift from me to pals on their birthdays.
The work that Charis (as Assistant Director) and the team at Hot Chocolate undertake with young people in Dundee is nothing short of remarkable, providing support, inspiration and, for many, a second family and a place of acceptance and possibility. Charis undertakes this with so much warmth, good humour and complete belief in the young people they work with.
One of the curators behind Nomas* Projects – a four window experimental gallery in Dundee, recommends…
I’ll start with Hospitalfield Arts (just outside Dundee I realise) and the work of Lucy Byatt and Laura Simpson in particular. Over years of committed hard work, they have developed a dynamic vision and program to make creative use of the building and grounds of Hospitalfield House. They have sustained a quality arts program and raised the profile of the arts within the local community as well. Their ambitious plans for the future reveals both a dedication and forward-thinking outlook that will continue to benefit a wide range of people in the arts and beyond.
Robert is a painter who graduated from DJCAD 21 years ago. In all these years he has never stopped making paintings for a living. Any arts graduate will know how hard it is to maintain their practice as the sole source of income. I mention Robert, not because he is a painter in particular but because of his work ethic (at least 8 hours in the studio at WASPS each day) and commitment to developing his craft. I admire the longevity of his career.
Studies business at Abertay University and has a keen interest and active involvement in community projects and developing her artistic style, she recommends…
Robert’s photography features various landscape locations around Scotland with a few portraits focussing on the character within them. His work is refreshing and serene, sending a sense of calm – a reflection of his demeanour. It feels as if you were at the rolling hills or towering cliffs which are a popular theme within his shots, embracing you in a homely vibe. Robert is currently working on a new project, documenting the people and places that make Scotland unique and diverse.
Ahmad is a recent DJCAD graduate in Art & Philosophy from Dundee. His work has evolved over time but continues to feature the themes of living environments/space, taking inspiration from the city of Dundee, and society, questioning the norms and our avid materialistic consumerism. One of his most notable works was the creation of his second Instagram account (@born_consumer) which documented every purchase, captioned with the price and date of purchase. Ahmad’s recent work, “Sky Space” for the DJCAD Degree Show takes shape as an unconventional interactive sculpture, where you find yourself transferred into the clouds within the space. The work aims to challenge the current narrative of Art being for a select group and being placed in areas of affluence, promoting the idea of inclusiveness and shifting the discourse.
Tahira has been running Dream Cakes from her home kitchen since 2014, creating beautifully crafted cakes for her customers. Each cake is unique, blending in client requirements and her own creative flair. Not only do her bakes taste amazing and are beyond comparison, you can find Tahira supporting different community and charity events with her delicious cakes, bringing joy with her motherly characteristics and of course the CAKE.
Game Developer and Lecturer, recommends…
Not only does his work underpin a lot of creative games stuff within Dundee, but he uses that knowledge and experience to build his own pieces of art. The technical approach leads to him building unique snapshots that can only really be found through digital art and in a way only he can express. He creates and enables others to create.
Malcolm is a multi-talented Dundee-based developer who gets involved with game jams when he can and always seems to make pretty wonderful things. He’s just out here making great things in a short space of time and putting them out into a world, and there’s such a great sense of “video game”-ness to it all.
Artist, maker and illustrator, recommends…
I really appreciate people who follow through and make things happen. Turning OpenClose and the art trail into a real thing was quite amazing, we often hear people talk about doing similar projects but they never happen. It takes skill to maintain enthusiasm and make things.
She’s just a brilliant human being and a great example of what can happen when creativity is applied to a variety of things, like her work in Togs for Tots. I admire people who just go and do things.
Comics Artist, Animator and Illustrator, recommends…
Elliot is a very motivated and inspiring comic artist who is currently working on his ongoing comic “Untethered” with writer Umar Ditta and colourist Mike Maynard. Elliot has worked hard with his team to create (successful!) kickstarters to print & publish Untethered independently, which is no easy feat – there’s a lot to be learned from this guy!
Catriona has such a wide variety of titles and projects up her sleeve, her work ethic is something I really look up to! She’s great at creating character-driven stories and some of her comic titles include “Stinger”, “The Smallest Knight”, and her latest ongoing story, “Chimerical”.
Jules is a sort of jack-of-all-trades, but I know them best for their autobio comic work. They use simple shapes and lines that are effective in emphasising the emotions going on in the page, which is a skill to be admired! You can find most of their artwork on their twitter
Visual Artist, recommends…
Jo does everything. Her own practice is often inspired by her community work – she always challenges, questions, and is very modest. The work that came out from her Trinidad residency is really good and worth a look if you haven’t seen it.
Eoin is currently head of exhibitions at DCA, but his curatorial background began in an artist led space which left room for experimentation, and with that the ‘exciting capacity for failure.’ His attitude towards the complete professionalisation of the art world is refreshing and I’m excited to see what exhibitions are planned for the future. He also compiled a queer reading/watching list for me as my mentor through the C4 Random Acts mentorship programme which is amazing!
Sekai’s work is very cool and unique. She had a few things on at GI through Yon Afro Collective. Her images are beautiful and an important part of our collective conversation in Dundee and Scotland.
Library Officer, Local History at Dundee Central Library, recommends…
Dighty Connect is based in Douglas, where they organise art, poetry, gardening, cooking, archaeology and anything else you can think of under Ann’s guidance, linking up communities along the Dighty Burn. When Patrick Geddes talked about “place, work, folk,” he meant Dighty Connect, even if he didn’t know it yet. Look out for the mosaic way markers by the burn.
An author of short stories, Anna Stewart brings a distinctive female Dundonian voice to the Scots literary scene, creating unforgettable characters in stories which often leave the reader feeling a bit haunted. You can read some of her work here.
A Shetlander in Dundee… for now. Filmmaker Shona is preparing to head north to the Arctic Circle later this month, where she will follow in the footsteps of Jenny Gilbertson, who made a film at Grise Fiord in the late 1970s. Shona’s film will explore the relationship between filmmaker and filmed, as well as changing life in the contemporary Arctic Circle. Keep up with her work here.
Artist and Photographer, recommends…
Nicola makes beautiful and intriguing paintings and has recently had a few really well received exhibitions and seems to be doing very well. I love her painting style and use of colour. We studied together on the MFA Humanities course.
Lucie Rachel works in photography and video and is making some really interesting work about LGBTQI+ identities that are really beautifully composed. She recently had some work shown at MoMa in New York which is pretty amazing. We are both currently enrolled on the Alumni Residency Programme at DJCAD.
Penelope’s ceramic work is beautiful yet unsettling and humorous all at once. We are both currently enrolled in the Alumni Residency Programme at DJCAD.
Multidisciplinary Artist and Illustrator, recommends…
Stephen Winstanley is a very talented Sculptor and ceramicist; recently under the name Toroid Ceramics he has been making (what looks like hundreds of) mugs and bowls using different techniques and inventing his own. I first came across his work at his degree show at DJCAD and was amazed by his wall-mounted ceramic mosaic works. Stephen’s a very skilful artist, everything he makes seems to come out looking perfect. Some might also recognise him from the recent Kilted Yoga – Jersey Edition video to celebrate the new flights from Dundee to Jersey.
Working with the summer skatepark takeover of Generator Projects last year I met Nkem running a t-shirt screenprint workshop. He is a very talented and enthusiastic printer and has an entrepreneurial streak that inspired me to start screenprinting my own t-shirts. He has always been willing to share advice and share knowledge. Working out of his studio Nkem prints under the name Ink Prints and provides excellent screenprint services for individuals, companies and events.
Programmes Producer at Creative Dundee, recommends…
Lauren’s work is playful, inclusive and people-centred. I share her believes that arts and design can change lives and her keen enthusiasm for taking part in Dundee’s creative regeneration. Check out her Split Screen video.
John is one of Dundee’s linchpins. He has recently initiated a great project, Scrieve, which connects people across the city to share their passion for playwriting. I’ve been to the first scratch night and it was brilliant!
Programme Assistant at V&A Dundee and host of The Squib, recommends…
They do so much and are so prolific – putting shows on all the time. They offer consistent space for bands and well as bringing shows, festivals and outside bands to Dundee. It’s all great! The atmosphere at the shows is good even if you’re not into punk rock. On top of that, they consistently raise awareness about Food Banks, mental health, etc…
I admire her history of film programming. When I worked at the DCA she would tell us about going from high school classes to University lectures about cinema. She just loves film and does great cinema programming, being very sensitive to the DCA’s position in Dundee, with a mix of mainstream and indies. Her willingness to encourage other people to be passionate about film is great, and with only two screens she makes sure there’s something for everyone.
He is the A.V. technician at DJCAD and has the patience of a saint! He helps so many people getting their things done and is an all-round encouraging egg. He’s also a youth worker at Boomerang, teaching kids how to use cameras. Properly up-skilling them, not doing the tokenistic stuff. He also started the excellent Yuk ‘n Yum.
Game Maker with Biome Collective, recommends…
Their projects often inhabit really interesting spaces in the cities and make good and new use of them. Things like Urban Orchard, Sharing Not Hoarding and more.
I really appreciate people like him in Dundee. You can clearly see his work developing as well with different pieces and I enjoy being able to recognise that change.
Has very prolific work and like C.Gul you can see it develop over time. It’s interesting to watch that change and in a way be part of the process.
Dundonian Art and Design teacher, coffee drinker, budgie wrangler, recommends…
Working with the V&A at Dundee’s Jo Mawdsley as part of The Schools Design Challenge was truly inspiring. Alongside designers, practitioners and a fabulous group of pupils from Morgan Academy, we set to work creatively responding to the question, ‘How could you improve your school or school life?’ The passion, enthusiasm and innovation shown by all was a wonderful reminder that our creative future will be safe in the hands of Dundee’s amazing young people, and I’ll be forever grateful to Jo for giving me the opportunity to be involved.
Prof. Dame Sue Black
I was lucky enough to see Professor Sue Black conduct a fascinating autopsy on a model Martian made by DJCAD students as part of the University of Dundee’s celebration of the work of Sci-Fi author HG Wells. In a time where Art and Design can sometimes be portrayed as the poor relation in a ‘STEM’ obsessed world, this reminded me just how closely the worlds of science, literature and art are connected, and that we should do everything we can to ensure that our young people see these fields as complimentary and embrace the idea of collaborative thinking and working.
The University of Dundee’s Eddie Small: playwright, historian, author, cultural ambassador, and all round cheerleader for the arts is one of my biggest heroes in the city. Eddie is well known for his play ‘The Four Marys’, commissioned for the centenary of Dundonian missionary Mary Slessor’s death. But for me, Eddie’s influence goes far beyond writing a great play about our city. Eddie- tutor during my MLitt -really opened my eyes to the possibility that I could cross boundaries between design, art and the written word, and his boundless encouragement and positive energy is something I hope to channel and in turn pass on to my own students in my role as secondary school teacher of Art and Design.
Filmmaker, Bonnie Brae Productions, recommends…
Choreographer and Artistic Director at the Scottish Dance Theatre. Fleur’s choreography is powerful, exciting, beautiful and poetic. It has an unparalleled magnetic pull that is confounding & captivating. Her influence can be seen in the performances that the young company are making.
Janey’s tireless dedication to engaging young audiences (as the Education & OutreachOfficerr for NEoN Digital Arts Festival) with areas of the arts that they may not have had contact with before is incredible, and much needed in Dundee. Her positivity and creativity are inspiring.
In setting up Sanctuary Tattoo on the Perth Road, Danielle and Jay have created a quiet, creative and welcoming corner of Dundee. Danielle’s work is bold and beautiful and brings happiness to a large global audience.
Digital Producer at Creative Dundee and host of The Beans Podcast, recommends…
I don’t know much about Yann. He’s an artist, musician and performer who isn’t really based in Dundee but teaches at Abertay University. Besides seeing some of his work from workshops & talks, he is great at two slightly unconventional things… The first is a very entertaining Twitter presence, trust me, following Yann on social media almost makes it worth putting up with all the horrible things on Twitter. The second is his unmatched skill when it comes to Pecha Kucha talks. If our PKN events were the Oscars, Yann is Tom Hanks circa 1994. He’s got a fascinating mind and creative process. I can’t recommend enough that you watch talks one, two and three.
As the organiser of Hotchpotch and general familiar face on literary events around Dundee, Gavin is an important part in the local literary scene. As well as a top-class writer, his support of other upcoming writers is visible and makes a difference in Dundee’s creative community. It’s rare for someone to be talented in their craft in the same measure as they are able to build communities around their interests – Gavin is one of those essential people.
As an illustrator and printmaker, Pamela is a prolific maker in the city. You may have seen her work with OpenClose, Maggie’s Penguins and Dundee Print Collective. Pamela’s very particular aesthetic is also accessible. To me, it captures something dramatic and yet mundane, highly ordered and yet surreal, about Dundee’s life and streets. There’s a lot that can be appreciated, discussed and savoured about her work.
Contemporary Dance Artist, recommends…
Amanda recently gave a hugely popular talk at Pecha Kucha, which was held at Dundee Rep, and detailed the work she does on a daily basis. The whole of the REP Engage team do a wonderful job to enrich people’s lives through drama and creative learning, and they are always inspiring me!
After training alongside Katie at The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, she has gone on to work with some wonderful local artists, as well as create her own work. Recently, Katie’s choreography was showcased as part of the ACT Festival at Dundee Rep, and she has also been involved in dance for the screen.
Musician, and part of Weave & NEoN, recommends…
I’d met Donna a few times over the years when I was working for DCA or attending other creative events, but working with her on the 2016 NEoN Festival was inspiring and eye-opening. Donna kicks arse and gets things done while maintaining a respectful, innovative and fun atmosphere. She keeps people on their toes, just as NEoN does with a programme of often challenging and endlessly invigorating work.
I first encountered Ben and his work some years ago when he was still a teenager, and even then it was clear that he had what it took to make his living with his lens. His eye for an exciting composition, his timing and his dedication to his craft have seen him mature into an excellent photographer.
We hope you have found some new names to follow and get inspired by on this list! Dundee has such a rich creative landscape that we could have made several posts, as long as this one. If you have names you wish were on this list, Tweet about their work on #CreativeDundee and let’s keep the conversation going!
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