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Dumfries, 2015

Public participation in 'Nith Scoping' using bespokely designed kits and viewing tools.

3 month research-led artist commission, for ‘Inbetween : Dumfries’ public programme by the Stove Network, Dumfries. The project focussed on the relationship between people in Dumfries and their River Nith. Outcomes took the form of a freely distributed publication, a number of public ‘Nith scoping events’ and contributing to a two-day discussion program presented by Intersections Public Art focusing on the role of culture in the development of small market towns.

‘Nith scoping’ complete with bespoke designed kits and underwater viewing tools was a playful take on a new outdoor pursuit activity for Dumfries residents. The hand assembled kits consisted of a chosen pair of fitting Wellington boots, a uniform-like life jacket, Nith mits, Nith goggles and a Nith scope. Copies of the Nith newspaper, sharing some of the wider project research were available for free from a newspaper rack on the front of a bicycle.

Over the course of a week, around 250 local people had a go at ‘Nith Scoping’ through free public workshops taking place in the river as it runs through Dumfries town centre. Nith scoping invited people to physically engage with the water and the conflicts that surrounds its future relationship with the town, through viewing the river from a seldom seen prospective - under water.

The river bed of the Nith was in-fact one of the most talked of landscapes in the town because it lies at the heart of a controversial local debate on dredging. On one hand people advocated for dredging the river bed as a means to alleviate high flood risk for homes and businesses on its banks. On the other hand this was considered detrimental to the important ecology of the river bed and the route of the problem understood to be the urbanisation of the natural flood plain. 


Rather than taking one side or another - this public project simply aimed to invite close observation of the rarely visible ecosystem at the centre of this debate.

Copies of 'Nith News' a free publication made in collaboration with Tony McKay, sharing the wider research surrounding this project.

Nith Scoping equipment remained in the vicinity of the river Nith, donated to the Nith District Salmon Fishery Trust, to be used with their educational project with children, but through arrangement it can be borrowed by anyone in Dumfries.


For more information on the wider project;

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