Artist sought for exciting Midsteeple Quarter creative commission

An artist is being commissioned to work with the community to embrace and express the excitement surrounding the future of Dumfries’ Midsteeple Quarter.

They will host a series of engagement events with people of all ages to capture the determination and ambition behind the drive to breathe new life into the town centre through community ownership and action.

Those conversations will inspire the creation of artwork which will go on display as the transformation continues of 135-139 High Street into new homes and enterprise spaces. The site had stood derelict until it was bought by the community as part of groundbreaking regeneration work.

It is expected that the outcome will reflect the town’s proud past and vision for a better future – and may even lead to a new name being chosen for the former Baker’s Oven building.

The search for an artist has been launched, with the brief highlighting the partnership’s desire to create something “bold and eye-catching” which draws attention to both the rebirth of that site and hopes for others surrounding it.

Midsteeple Quarter, the community-owned organisation behind the construction scheme, has joined forces with Dumfries and Galloway-based art and craft organisation  Upland to offer the commission.

The project is funded by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, which has awarded a £14,500 grant to make it possible.

The transformation of 135-139 High Street into new homes and enterprise space is the first major phase of construction for Midsteeple Quarter, which has taken five neglected buildings into community ownership to breathe new life into them and the wider town centre as part of work frequently flagged as trailblazing across the UK.

Midsteeple Quarter Executive Director Scott Mackay said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Upland and are incredibly grateful to Creative Scotland for making all of this possible.

“There’s a real buzz surrounding the building work that’s taking place. We are looking forward to seeing how that can be reflected creatively.

“We hope too that it will celebrate the pride of townsfolk in getting us to this pivotal point in Midsteeple Quarter’s short history and the desire of the community to take the reins in shaping a better, stronger Dumfries.”

Building work at 135-139 High Street started last summer and is expected to be completed in spring 2024.

Options on where the temporary artwork could be sited will be considered as part of work with the chosen artist and the community. Options, however, include placing it as part of the construction site facade, or close to it.

Amy Marletta, Upland’s Creative Director, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Midsteeple Quarter at such an exciting and crucial phase in their regeneration work.

“The new creative commission is open to many possibilities and has the potential to engage a wide range of people. We have kept the project brief open to enable the artist to be responsive to the experience of spending time on the High Street, which is really important. It is also crucial that the engagement with the community is the driver for the final artwork.

“We very much look forward to seeing how artists respond to the brief and explore the potential of what could be created with the local community.”

It is expected that artists will be interviewed and the chosen artist commissioned in mid-March. Work is expected to run from April through to November.

The full brief for the commission can be found at and at

The transformation of the former Baker’s Oven site is a £7.2m project funded by the Scottish Government, South of Scotland Enterprise, Dumfries & Galloway Council, the Holywood Trust and Dumfries High Street Limited (trading as Midsteeple Quarter).

Once complete, it will be home to enterprise space at ground level and part of the first floor as well as seven flats on its upper floors.