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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Wheeler

THE STOVE…growing an engaged practice

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

I first came across The Stove when I answered a call looking for artists to contribute to a large scale stencil work in 2013 – back2back – video link below.

Living in Glasgow at the time with two young children and an artistic practice that was still very much focused on the development of more traditional technique in drawing and painting but with interests, and work, in community development that did not seem to fit easily together under a banner of one thing.

The work I created out of exploration, the commissions, the workshops, seemed separate from the theories I liked to discuss, the youth work, community work, activist and socialist ideals i was passionate about. With such a strongly observational practice I had a limited concept of what could fit under the hat of 'artist' and as such it seemed to not fully cover what I needed to be…and where new young mother fitted into that mixing pot I had not even begun to embrace in the entirety of value it deserves!

I was certain however…I loved drawing

I loved the process of creation…had a burning need to make

I did not love the world of fine art and galleries as I perceived it (though had found it often tremendously inspiring). I did not like the professional 'face' needed to get your work out or the often alienating narratives woven to justify an existence above others

I was unsure how what I created was useful to others

I knew I needed it to be useful…in the wider sense…in a way that connects to society, is accessible, is engaging and ultimately makes some sort of a difference (I did not yet have even the beginnings of a language for this) and I was not sure a work I created for the gallery wall could do even a small part of that.

…and then I found The Stove…I learned a new language (am still learning) that helped me find a way of connecting my need to make with my wish to be useful.

I Discovered a way of validating all of the skills I had built up under the 'artist' hat in a way I could really believe in and begin to share.

That way for me is a deepening understanding of the value of creative process that as an Artist I continually practice. The ability to take a collection of things, and make a new, risky, exploratory thing that others are a part of. The way art can be a way (at its best) to connect, to shout, to make things visible, to carve out space for transformational conversations.

I am slowly breaking down the separations...and growing the courage to navigate my way to a more meaningful and engaged practice.

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