To say ‘So long’ would be wrong…

This contraption delivered sweeties and a question to ask the audience. And yes, in its former life it was a condom machine.

Four weeks, four artists, lots of paper, loads of coffee… the CABN Connects residency has now come to a close but this is not the end!

Over the past month we have looked at how we can help CABN to communicate with artists and start a conversation with them. The wonderful thing is that we’ve already started to do that, with Facebook and Twitter helping us to speak to artists and get their opinions. Their input has been invaluable and has really shaped what we’ve come up with, so a big thanks to them!

On Thursday we presented our ideas to a small group at Gracefield. We kept it nice and interactive so that people could get a feel for the fun and energy that should surround these concepts. We had a great response and it was brilliant to see the sparks of our ideas come to life in the room.

We’ll be keeping you posted on our ideas in the very near future so let us know what you think. And if you want to get involved with CABN, all the better!

For me, it has been an absolute joy being back in the region. The warmth, openness and passion that we have encountered has helped to reinvigorate me as an artist and I am keen to keep engaging with people here. So let’s keep the ball rolling!


Posted by Catherine


Looking for inspiration in quotes and TED talks, this one prompted a doodle…

Creative use of white space

Two weeks into our residency and the ideas are bubbling up about how CABN can better connect with the creative community in the South of Scotland.


…not after. More of a work in progress.

Connect with us and tell us what you’re up to creatively and we’ll keep you posted about what we’re doing too.

Wondering what this is all about?

We understand that we’ve emerged out of the blue and started asking you to tell us stuff, which may have left you feeling slightly confused. So let us explain a bit more about the project…

Who are CABN?

CABN is the Creative Arts Business Network, an organisation which supports artists of all artforms across the South of Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders). But what does that actually mean? CABN’s activities are really varied but to give you a taste, they include:

  • a News & Opportunities newletter that goes out weekly
  • some funding, including the Visuals Arts and Craftmaker Awards
  • Creative Business Advocates – established artists from each sector who provide peer-to-peer mentoring and events for local artists and other projects such as setting up rural touring networks
  • networking events
  • being a general source of information to help signpost artists to the right people and organisations

What’s the CABN Connects Residency?

The CABN Connects Residency is a 4 week project bringing together 4 artists from different sectors to look at how CABN can communicate with artists in a way that reflects the vitality and energy of the creative community that is out there. The aim is to foster a two way conversation with artists, so that CABN know that the service they provide is exactly what is needed and wanted by the people who might use it.

But here’s the thing…

In all honesty, we’re still working out what this is all about. We have been brought on as artists, not branding consultants, but we need to straddle both business and artistic mindsets. It’s a challenge, but we love a challenge. We’re approaching this from an artist’s perspective – we are all creative practitioners who are engaged in the constant struggle to live by what we do, to feel the joy that comes from working and doing what you love. So what do we need to do that? And how can CABN provide for those needs? Here are some issues that we first identified:

The obvious challenges

(In)visibility. An aim for this project is for the following conversation to be the norm…

Me: Have you heard of CABN?
An artist in the South of Scotland: Aye.

CABN are an approachable and useful resource but more people need to know about them and understand what they do. We need to start shouting about all the wonderful things that are happening!

What’s going on?! CABN started off as an initiative in the Borders while D&G operated under the SOSCEI programme but they have since joined forces but still operate with one website for the Borders and one for D&G but CABN in D&G still has to operate under the banner of Creative Enterprise Development Pathfinder and… confused yet? We are. Amongst all this, it’s very difficult to see what CABN does and what’s useful. The websites themselves are also very muddled, text-heavy and difficult to navigate, which doesn’t help.

So many artists! CABN covers every sector of the arts. That includes visual art, craft, music, film, performing arts, dance, literature and everything in between. And of course, within this, every artist has their own individual mix of skills and different approach to working. Some are business-minded, some not so much. Meeting the needs of all of them within the limits of the project is very tricky.

The vastness of things. I’m sure you know, the South of Scotland is huge! CABN’s reach is right across Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Unlike Edinburgh or Glasgow, we don’t have a central point with thousands of artists right on your doorstep. Instead, the thousands of artists are spread over hundreds of miles. Is it possible to effectively serve everyone across such a vast area? We suspect yes, but it’ll take a lot of work.

Finding a place in the bigger picture. There are a lot of different creative networks in the South of Scotland, from blogs such as The Commonty, to arts venues, to larger structural organisations. Dumfries & Galloway especially is going through major changes in the arts with the new Hubs and Chamber of Arts. CABN doesn’t want to be duplicating things that are already happening, so we need to work out where they fit in the midst of all this.

Thinking of synonyms for artist and creativeIt’s really difficult.


That’s our first take on things so far. We’re keen to get your input on CABN and your experiences of being an artist in general.  What do you struggle with most? What are the most useful resources for you? Leave a comment below or email us at Or if you’re still totally confused, just get in touch and we can chat things through.

Well done for reading the whole article! Here’s a video as a prize.

What’s in a na…

What’s in a name? Like CABN Connects implies, we’re hoping our residency will give everyone the chance to get in touch and connect with the creative community in the South of Scotland. We’re really keen to hear about your experiences of CABN (Creative Arts Business Network) and any great ideas you may have to help make things even better in the future. We’ve pulled together a survey, it’s a short one – honestly. Just click on the following link and give us your feedback.

We look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks.

The CABN Connects Residency Team

Meet Isabell Buenz

I’m a paper artist with an interest in fashion. Over the years I’ve created quite a collection of paper shoes in all sizes, from tiny ones for little fairy tale characters to stilettos suitable for giants. I also make artists’ books and use my text and photographs to illustrate them. Most of my books are one-offs.

At the end of last year I left my job of 20 years with the NHS and have so far spent this year learning new things, running workshops and exploring textiles as a new direction for my work. Looking into textiles is really just an excuse to read lots of girly magazines and visit boutiques and fashion outlets!

Not being employed any longer also means I can do things at short notice, like move into my studio outside Gatehouse for a month, be part of the CABN Connects Residency and catch up with the artists and friends I know in D&G.

Posted by Isabell

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Meet Catherine Major

“I work in theatre” is my standard response when asked what I do. I’m a performer and theatre maker with a passion for loads of different forms, from Stanilsavskian naturalism (I trained at East 15, daaaahling) to crazy physical theatre, the sort where you don’t have a clue what’s going on but you know you love it.

A big part of my practice is community and youth theatre facilitation – working with groups to create theatre or to explore through drama. I graduated from East 15’s BA (Hons) Community Theatre in 2011 and have since worked with some wonderful companies and people, including the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, the Citz in Glasgow and the creative team at D&G Council.

As well as theatre, I also do graphic design for print and web. I take photos, I scribble, I get distracted, I scribble again. I love learning from people of different artforms and backgrounds – one of the things that was so appealing about the CABN Connects residency.

I’m originally from Moffat and currently living in Glasgow. I still miss the green hills and beautiful surroundings of the region – it’s always been a place that has inspired me and chilled me right oot. It’s great to be back!

Posted by Catherine

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Meet Hazel Moore

I’m a visual artist with many hats, merging a background in design with a fine art practice. Themes that recur in my artwork are control, displacement, etiquette, identity, memory and taboo. I’m interested in historical subject matter and I’m currently researching museum objects for a new series of art works.

I incorporate elements of performance into my work. Due to the ephemeral nature of live performance, documentation of the performance and the residual artefact has become an essential part of my practice.

But for me it all starts with an idea, an initial sketch and list of words followed up by research with the use of mind maps. Then the idea is developed by experimenting with different techniques such as drawing, sculpting, performance, filming, photography, print and various mixed media. It’s all part of the process.

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Meet Alison Caldwell

Scriptwriter, playwright and freelance scribbler – but right now I’m enjoying collaborating on the CABN Connects Residency and connecting with the creative community in the South of Scotland.

My creative experience includes freelance writing, journalism, PR and marketing, and publishing. As a copywriter I’ve worked on private and public sector projects large and small ranging from cultural to enterprise, health to heritage.

A resident of Dumfries and Galloway since 1998, during the next 10 years I focused on ghost writing, publishing and marketing The Rory Stories, one of Scotland’s most successful pre-school picture book series.

Having brushed up my scriptwriting skills on the inaugural TV Fiction Writing course at Glasgow Caledonian University a couple of years ago, I’ve now returned to my earlier love of writing scripts and plays. Current projects include a new theatre play The Tide being read as a work in progress at the forthcoming Wigtown Book Festival.

Posted by Alison

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On Facebook and Twitter (an ode to the Internet)

The wires have been connected
Our days in the dark have passed
Now comes the enlightened time of tweets
We’re on the Internet at last!

After struggling with a rather feeble internet connection over the past week, CABN Connects is online!

Now, Facebook and Twitter are great for statuses, links and pictures of quizzical-looking cats, but we want them to be ways of connecting with people and starting a conversation. As well as all those other things. Four artists in a room will never be able to represent what’s best for a community of thousands of vibrant, exciting, passionate artists so we want to get as much input as we can.

So follow us, it would be great to hear from you!


Coming soon…an intro to the residents.

Some failed attempts at tweety-birds:


Posted by Catherine