Trading Journeys set sail

Boats, bikes and a horse and cart descended on Wigtown on Saturday to take part in a spectacular visual event.

As part of the celebrations of Wigtown’s Book Town festival, Trading Journeys commemorated the town’s historical importance as a county town and trade route and gave a nod to Billy Marshall, the Gypsy King, who travelled the roads of Wigtownshire.

Organised by The Stove artists in Dumfries and involving the local schools and communities, the celebration began with a few journeys into the town by land and sea.

A small flotilla of sailing boats left Creetown harbour shortly after mid-day and made their way across the calm waters to Wigtown where they were met by a cheering crowd. The boats brought charcoal for the mobile forge which travelled from New Galloway on Saturday morning by the pedal power of Uur Jero.

Artist Alice Frances had time to relax in Southfield Park after a few days’ clopping through the back roads from Auchencairn by horse and cart. On her way, she collected tokens and wooden spoons left in the hedgerow by local schoolchildren. A crafted standard from the tokens formed the centrepiece of the parade.

Closely associated with Billy Marshall, spoons were a prominent feature throughout the event. Spoon moulds were made during the day and people had the opportunity to cast them in metal in the specially commissioned mobile foundry outside Wigtown County Buildings, where a large crowd had gathered.

The day culminated in one big celebration of the good old ways which included the gathering, drumming workshops, parade, flotilla, home-made scones and jam, the mobile foundry and a spectacular theatrical performance.

Stove artist and Trading Journeys curator Will Marshall said: “The event certainly looked great and the Stove’s input gave the festival a new edge, which is always fantastic.

“Someone told me he drove four and a half hours from Manchester for this event and was driving four and a half hours back on the same day, but said it was worth every minute.

“A huge thanks and congratulations to everyone for a brilliant addition to the Wigtown Book Festival.

“Trading Journeys generated a great deal of excitement and an incredible buzz throughout the day. The parade had a fantastic atmosphere and the forge went down a treat.

“Thanks for all your hard work and passion towards the project. It really is greatly appreciated.”