The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival is delighted to have facilitated a special collaboration between the Dumfries Museum, Dumfries Pride and DJ McDowall of The Imaginarium for an evening celebrating the extraordinary life of local lass, suffragette, medical pioneer, radical activist and queer icon Dr Flora Murray on the centenary of her death on Wednesday 26th July at Dumfries Museum.
They have co-curated a very special evening of musical and spoken word tributes featuring folk musicians Rachel Walker and Aaron Jones who have recently written a song about Flora for their album ‘Despite the Wind and the Rain’ which celebrates under represented women in Scottish History.
Doors will open at 7pm for audiences to view the Flora Murray Exhibition with the performances starting at 7.30pm.
The night will also feature performances from Susi Briggs, an author, storyteller, poet and musician from Dumfries & Galloway, she will be premiering her new poem about Flora as part of the celebration.
Susi is passionate about Scots language literacy, Susi writes songs, poetry and picture books and is also co-creator of shortlisted storytelling show Oor Wee Podcast.
Cairn Chorus, a community performance choir based in Moniaive and Thornhill Dumfries & Galloway, will also perform some songs of protest from their recent Rise Up Singing events, songs for justice from around the world and across the ages to pay homage to Flora the Suffragette and activist.
Audiences will also be piped in to the Dumfries Museum by the incredible Lani O’Neill who has over 14 years of performance experience and is a local queer piper with a passion for national and international traditional music.
The co-curated evening will celebrate ‘Sunflowers’, the song from Rachel Walker and Aaron Jones album ‘Despite the Wind and the Rain’ about Flora and they bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and musicianship to this partnership. Since their first collaborations back in 2007, both have spent the intervening years writing, touring and recording with many of the biggest names in traditional music.
They have re-united in earnest to write and perform again on Rachel’s critically acclaimed release ‘Gaol’ in 2020 and their combined passion for song and the exploration of the wide repertoire across the tradition, in Gaelic, Scots and English cemented a new partnership which culminated in their debut collaborative release, the EP ‘A Happy Place’ in 2021.
The duo continued to develop their repertoire through lockdown and as live performances returned, they took their music to the stage, first in online performances for Celtic Connections and Fèis Rois and then live at the Under Canvas Festival at Eden Court, Am Bothan Dhùn Èideann and The Loch Sheil Festival.
In 2021 the duo embarked on a project to recognise the achievements of Scottish women through song, which culminated in the release of ‘Despite the Wind and Rain’ in November 2022. The album, a collection of ten brand new songs, has received an overwhelming response and the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival are delighted to be showcasing this album as part of this co-curated evening.
DJ McDowall’s work on the under represented histories associated with women of Dumfries for the multi-award winning Storytrails project has created a legacy for Dumfries and brought communities together to celebrate the history of the town on a national stage.
Over the past year DJ McDowall in partnership with Ewart Library’s Heritage Service & Dumfries Museum has researched and brought to life the Daughter of Dumfries, Suffragette, Medical Pioneer, Radical Activist and LGBTQ+ Icon, Dr Flora Murray who was a true Rebel Queen of the South.
DJ has also been delivering a variety of in person and online talks and interactive workshops, helped to co-curate the current exhibition of Flora’s Life & Times at Dumfries Museum, and is also organising a ‘Gloriously Happy’ Memorial Event featuring special guest speakers & live performances, which will commemorate and pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr Flora Murray at the Crichton Memorial Church on Friday 28th July, 10.45am-midday. With Cream Tea served afterwards in the Duncan Rooms, Easterbrook Hall – just turn up.
DJ McDowall from The Imaginarium stated, “When I discovered Dr Flora Murray I came across the local role model I’d always been seeking as a Doonhamer, so I went on a mission to bring her memory home, and raise awareness of her incredible life in our hometown of Dumfries.
I’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed with the support and opportunities we’ve managed to manifest to make this dream come true. Collaborating with some of the best people and organisations locally who’s enthusiasm, and generosity has helped us facilitate some glorious events to celebrate and commemorate Flora on this the centenary year of her death, including this awesome evening of song & spoken word with D&G Arts Festival. Thank you for all you are doing!”
Simon Hart, CEO of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival stated, “Dr Flora Murray’s courageous pioneering work promoting equality of representation and opportunity continues to resonate vividly today and we are proud to contribute this musical event which celebrates her life and significant achievements.”
The Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival are delighted to be collaborating with the Dumfries Museum, Dumfries Pride and DJ McDowall of The Imaginarium so join them for an evening of musical and spoken word celebrations on Wednesday 26th July at Dumfries Museum from 7pm.
Tickets are £12 and £6 for Under 26’s and can be purchased on their website: www.dgartsfestival.org.uk
For press enquiries on the event, please contact Emma Porteous, Project & Communications Manager at the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival – email@example.com
Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival:
Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival supports people in some of the region’s most rural areas to experience world class performing arts.
We bring the best local and national artists to our communities; we invest in our performing artists; introduce our young people to live performance and engage people of all ages, from all walks of life, with our imaginative programme. We are the only region-wide performing arts organisation in Dumfries & Galloway.
A treasure house of history in Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfries Museum tells the story of the land and people of the region. Look out for fossil footprints left by prehistoric animals, the wildlife of the Solway, tools and weapons of our earliest people, stone carvings by Scotland’s first Christians and the everyday things of the Victorian farm, workshop and home. The museum also hosts a lively programme of special exhibitions, events and family activities throughout the year and has a shop selling unusual and nostalgic toys, gemstones, gifts and books.
The exhibition feature Dr Flora Murray will be on until November 2023.
Dumfries Pride is a volunteer led activist movement comprising local LGBTQ+ people and their allies.
This year’s pride programme runs from 8th July through to the main event which will take place on Saturday 12th August 2023 on Dumfries High Street. Check Dumfries Pride socials for events & downloadable programme of activities.
DJ McDowall of The Imaginarium:
DJ is based in Dumfries but works throughout the region as a Creative Community Development Consultant for her organisation The Imaginarium. Debz has 30 years’ experience supporting communities right across Dumfries & Galloway.
Championing the rights of disadvantaged and underrepresented people, helping connect, and support them to improve their quality of life, ensuring effective representation has been her core focus.
She is known for her dynamic, inclusive, creative, innovative approach which is delivered with unwavering integrity. She has developed and delivered countless successful award winning long running community initiatives, groups, training courses, events and issue based projects, using creative methods that keep participants at the heart of their development and delivery.
DJ often acts as a catalyst within communities; linking people and organisations together, providing strategic development and mentoring support, in order to achieve meaningful engagement and meaningful outcomes for everyone involved.
Recovering and revealing under represented local histories and delivering interactive, immersive and experiential heritage engagement has become one of her key areas of focus and expertise.