Siôn Parkinson, curator/producer of Dundee Design Festival, tells of the second festival to be hosted by Unesco Dundee City of Design
IT’S hard not to notice that Dundee is whirring with creative energy right now. It’s an exciting place to be, and, as producer of Dundee Design Festival, it’s a privilege to be able to invite some of the world’s leading designers and thinkers to our city to share their amazing ideas.
The theme for this year’s festival is Factory Floor, through which we celebrate and explore makers, machines, and the future of manufacturing.
Loading article content
We’ve drawn inspiration from Dundee’s illustrious industrial heritage and the extraordinary festival venue itself. Across three enormous galleries of this former print works, we’re preparing to present a series of dynamic exhibitions bringing together international designers from Dundee to Detroit whose work combines traditional industrial processes with handmade techniques.
Visitors can expect to experience an assembly line of creative activity at West Ward Works. They can follow an eye-bending decorative plaster walkway by Chalk, see innovations in 3D-printing in jewellery and furniture design, and get up close to a miniature landscape of hand-built ceramics by James Rigley and Dawn Youll, objects that recall smoke stacks, girders and bits of broken-down machinery. And there are elegant designs by the celebrated Studio Glithero, who in one project manage to connect the processes of textile weaving with mechanical pipe organ music.
This year’s festival is all about making, so we’re inviting people to don a smock, roll up their sleeves and try out new techniques at one of our many drop-in and ticketed workshops.
These include plaster casting, model making, and carving jewellery from jewellers’ wax to make your very own solid silver ring. There’s a day of wild experiments working with expanding materials and spinning machines with the brilliant design duo Studio Silo, plus a “Foldability” workshop led by origami expert and Glasgow School of Art graduate Kyla McCallum, who will be teaching the complex technique of folding and pleating with fabrics.
During the day we have family printmaking sessions inspired by the vast Print City installation, and in the evenings a host of special events including the UK-premiere of Graphic Means, a documentary on the history of graphic design.
We’re also delighted to be hosting Andrew Wasylyk’s first live performance in his hometown of his new album Themes for Buildings and Spaces, haunting music inspired by Dundee’s post-industrial landscapes.
And for one evening only, Dundee Design Festival invites you to come down to West Ward Works and help form the Singer Machine Choir, a vast chorus of voices that together will playfully conjure the sounds of factories past and present.
Over the past three months we’ve visited factories across the region to record the sounds of working machinery. Sounds collected form DCA Print Studio, waxed cotton producers Halley Stevensons, Michelin tire factory, textile fabricators Scott & Fyffe, plus the terrifying clatter of textile machines on display at our neighbouring Verdant Works will help inspire visitors to create a production line of whirrs, drones, clangs and bangs. The choir will be led by celebrated Dundee singer Alice Marra and folk legend Sheena Wellington.
You don’t need any formal training in singing, the ability to read music, or any experience in performing to take part. We just want you to lend us your voice, fill up the space, and help make something spectacular.
The festival takes place at the city’s West Ward Works between May 24 and May 29 The full programme is at dundeecityofdesign.com @designdundee #dundeedesignfest