CAMPLE LINE’s 2019 Programme Begins This March With Its Spring Edition

Image: Museums Officer Joanne Turner looking at Dr TB Grierson’s Running Catalogue with Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, December 2018, Dumfries Museum (DUMFM:1965.405)

CAMPLE LINE is pleased to announce a number of projects as part of its spring edition, which begins on Saturday 16 March and runs till Saturday 25 May.

As part of its public programme this spring, CAMPLE LINE has invited Dumfriesshire-based poet and writer JoAnne McKay to undertake three readings from the handwritten Running Catalogue compiled by Dr Thomas Boyle Grierson (1818-1889) in relation to the holdings of the extraordinary museum he established in Thornhill in 1872 and which remained there till 1965. Though the Running Catalogue is itself now in the collection of Dumfries Museum alongside other papers and items from the Thornhill museum, it gives a unique insight into the nature of Grierson’s collecting practices, the beguiling array of objects he gathered into his museum, and the extensive range of donors, many local to Thornhill, that gave them to him.

Entitled We Fire the Dark, McKay’s readings will combine extracts from the catalogue (and its 1252 entries) with a fascinating mix of archival material and her own poetry. These different strands will be woven together to give us a unique insight in to this remarkable document, its author, and their legacy.
Two instalments of We Fire the Dark will take place at CAMPLE LINE, placing Dr Grierson and his collection in a wider international story of how such collections were formed and used. A third will take place at the Friendship Club on West Morton Street in Thornhill. For that event, JoAnne will trace, through archival material and poetry, the history of Dr Grierson’s collection, from its origins in a single room on North Drumlanrig Street, to the laying of the foundation stone of the new museum in 1869, and to its eventual dispersal in 1965. There will be the opportunity to share memories and thoughts so to gather further material on this fascinating chapter of local history.

This March CAMPLE LINE will also initiate a year-long project Reading Grierson’s Library developed by CAMPLE LINE, with support from Dumfries Museum and Wallace Hall Academy, Thornhill. The project will involve small groups of senior pupils from Wallace Hall Academy in the reading of three books that were once held in the library of Dr Grierson’s Museum in Thornhill, from which they will then develop creative projects. The library was dispersed along with the museum collection in 1965, but a list of its holdings is in Dumfries Museum. The first book is Giovanni Battista Belzoni’s Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids (1822 edition) and the group will focus on the passage that details how Belzoni and a group of labourers moved the head of Rameses II a distance of two miles from where it lay to the banks of the Nile and set it on its course to the British Museum in London, where it remains today.

With support from The Holywood Trust, CAMPLE LINE is also pleased to be able to take forward a third year of its Young Assistants Programme, enabling a small number of young people based locally in Mid-Nithsdale to participate in the development and practical delivery of its public programme. CAMPLE LINE has developed the progamme in order to involve young people in their ambitions as an organistion and within their setting to help them present a high quality programme of international arts and film.

These projects form key strands in the wider context of CAMPLE LINE’s spring edition, which brings together a compelling art installation with film screenings that together offer a wide range of stories about people and the objects, things and goods that define their lives, places, occupations, identities or legacies. Spanning two centuries and a wide geographic scope, the programme as a whole brings together stories that place a common focus on human efforts, actions and acts that acquire, gather, transport or protect objects. We see people move, exchange, circulate, maintain, salvage or repair things.

Between March and May, CAMPLE LINE will present Black Atlas (2016), a five-part installation by Stockholm-based Canadian artist Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, in its upstairs space. Based on photographs that Nguyễn found in the archives of the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, Black Atlas reflects upon the nameless porters and caravan workers who were used to transport material culture from distant countries to the museum’s storage by some of its prominent benefactors. Nguyễn has said that ‘Black Atlas shifts the viewer’s attention from singular world travellers and high net worth individuals to the deployment of local labour.’

Screening daily in counterpoint to Black Atlas are two films that explore these threads in our contemporary world. Laura Waddington’s 29min film CARGO (2001, 29mins), commissioned by International Film Festival Rotterdam, evokes the contradictions of a global freight network that services the movement of goods at the expense of the freedoms of its crew. Based on a six-week journey she made on a container ship with Rumanian and Filipino sailors, Waddington has said of CARGO ‘it falls between reality and fiction. It was a way of showing the limbo these men were living in.’

Maeve Brennan’s The Drift (2017, 51mins), produced by Spike Island, Bristol and Chisenhale, London, and commissioned by those venues along with The Whitworth, Manchester, and Lismore Castle Arts,
traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon through three individuals: Fakhry, Mohammed and Hashem. It draws out their embodied knowledge of materials and things – Fakhry guarding the Roman temple he rebuilt, Mohammed replacing salvaged car parts as he talks, Hashem silently repairing ceramic fragments – in contrast to the exploitative practices we glimpse at the sharper edge of conflict.

Single screenings of Allan Sekula and Noel Burch’s The Forgotten Space (2012, 112mins) and Nicolas Philibert’s La Ville Louvre (1990, 84mins) give a wider context to the programme, inviting us to reflect on the ways that individual, institutional and corporate interests uniquely influence objects and things in ways that can be compelling and revealing as much as they can be fraught or dissociating.
The spring edition closes with a screening of Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives (2018, 70mins). In 2012 an international agricultural research centre was forced to relocate from Aleppo to Lebanon due to the Syrian civil war and then began a laborious process of planting and restoring its seed collection from back-ups recalled from the Global seedbank located in Svalbard. Following the path of those seeds between the Arctic and Lebanon, Manna’s beautiful film unfolds a matrix of human and non-human lives across those two remote places, following a large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, carried out primarily by young migrant women.

Manna has said: ‘As someone raised in Jerusalem, educated in Norway this geographic connection and the symbolic resonances of the story caught my attention. It inspired me to build a narrative…which takes these two tiny spots on the earth, connected by a transaction of seeds, as a starting point.’