The Magic of an Urban Campfire – Storytelling at the Stove

Sitting on a wooden log with my camera  on my lap, surrounded by acquaintances and strangers in front of an urban campfire right on Dumfries High Street, I had to admit: “Yep, the Stove once again came up with a community bonding event.”

Dumfries town centre is usually empty on weekdays after dark. After living in a large city, empty streets feel kind of depressing. The Stove’s campfire was a beacon for the curious and late evening dog walkers. People of various nationalities  and different age groups gathered around the fire for an instalment of #OurNorwegianStory open mic Viking storytelling, sagas and fairy tales of our Nordic friends.

It was good to gaze into an open fire, smell the burning timber and watch cast iron cauldron with non-alcoholic mulled wine bubbling quietly, as the ancient magic brought back the communal feeling of safety, comfort and human bonding. People exchanged stories and poems and passed around lumps of dark chocolate on a piece of silver foil. Even I surprised myself with suddenly sharing a story of the Russian Nordic connection, that of the Varyags in ancient Rus.

As I perched on the log covered with an animal hide I deliberately wanted to embrace this sense of community to convey it in my images. Heat. Light. Warmth. Sharing.

The Stove's urban campfire

The Stove's urban campfire

Passing dark chocolate

Late night dog walker attracted to the campfire

Late night dog walker attracted to the campfire

Katherine Wheeeler, the curator of #OurNorwegianStory project, serves non-alcoholic mulled wine

Katherine Wheeeler, the curator of #OurNorwegianStory project, serves non-alcoholic mulled wine

Cups for mulled wine and timber for the fire

Cups for mulled wine and timber for the fire

Storyteller sharing Viking sagas

Storyteller sharing Viking sagas

People of different generations listening to the stories at the Stove's campfire

People of different generations listening to the stories at the Stove's campfire

Open fire in Dumfries High Street outside The Stove Network

Open fire in Dumfries High Street outside The Stove Network

Warming hands at the open fire

Conversations and bonding

Sharing a poem

Illuminated by fire, street lights and shop windows

All wrapped up against the night chill

Fire is quite romantic

Light, warmth and a good story