I skipped photographing Xmas Lights Switch On celebrations last year but this year was special – the first ever Dumfries Makers Market opened on High Street on Sunday December 2, 2018, and it was an additional and unmissable urban street highlight of the day.

Dumfries Makers Market sets out to contribute to the honourable but hard to put into effect process of the town centre regeneration.

After months of campaigning Dumfries now has its own monthly market with stalls from designers, crafts people, artists and educators. Local artisan food and beverage producers are invited to the party. 

Moreover, artist talks, hands-on education, workshops, elements of street theatre and music performances are expected to take place within the Dumfries Makers Market framework.

So, ideally, Doonhamers will be able to enjoy the market festival experience, rather than just a shopping routine alternative.

I timed my arrival for the start of the “blue hour” when the sky just went blue purple – I love shooting at dusk in winter.

It was nice to see the festive and busy Queensberry Square with well-attended market stalls on Sunday, all despite the persistent drizzle. But hey, when a Scotsman is afraid of a bit of rain!

Festive Queensberry Square with the stalls of the first ever Dumfries Makers Market

I popped in to say hello to Kirstin and Michael at Midsteeple Quarter Society booth amid Doon Toon Army and peaceful protest signs. They shared with the market visitors how local people could take ownership of the disused and abandoned buildings on High Street and create affordable accommodation and retail spaces for the benefit of the community.

Midsteeple Quarter t-shirts and other merchandise designed by young artists from the Stove for the project were on display there, lit by twinkling fairy lights.

Kirstin and Michael at Midsteeple Quarter Society booth at Dumfries Makers Market
Kirstin at MSQ booth at Dumfries Makers Market
Michael with "Who owns what?" sign at MSQ stall promoting community activism
MSQ activists sharing information with the market visitors
Midsteeple Quarter T-shirts on sale designed by the Stove artists
Doon Toon Army badges at MSQ booth at Dumfries Makers Market

My attention was also drawn to a small crowd of children and grown ups learning the art of mono printing with Drawing For Enjoyment instructors Frank Hayes and Caro Huijing.

I watched the whole progress of spreading inks, tracing Peter Pan themed designs and pulling the resulting mono prints with fascination.

I feel that the invitation of local non-profit organisations with their peaceful protest signs and the inclusion of hands-on practical art workshop into High Street market experience was a brilliant idea!

Certainly the success of this new venture will depend on its commercial viability in the first place. However it’s a step in the right direction towards creating Dumfries Makers Market’s unique ethos.

Drawing for Enjoyment stall at the inaugural Dumfries Makers Market
Applying ink to be transferred later onto a print
Young girl tracing an image to be made into a mono pring
A selection of Peter-Pan themed pictures to draw on as the basis for mono prints

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