Fourteen projects offering opportunities to engage with natural surroundings in innovative and exciting ways, are to receive a share of more than £500,000, as part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.
Supported by Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage the funding was announced today, Monday 28 January, 2013, on the eve of the world premiere of Infinite Scotland at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness – a multi-media production celebrating Scotland’s fascinating natural diversity and artistic life and featuring Blythe Duff and Kenny Taylor.
Taking place right across the country from an urban wetland park in the west to a remote stretch of land north of Aberdeen and the environment around Dunbar in the east that inspired the great conservationist John Muir, the fourteen extraordinary projects will bring together community groups, individual artists and the wider community in projects including: NVA’s new public artwork Island Drift, set to transform the islands in the southern reaches of Loch Lomond using bespoke lighting technologies to create a compelling series of photographic works (a collaboration between NVA, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park); writing and walking residencies at four of Scotland's Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Argyll, the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway (a collaboration between Walking With Poets, Scottish Poetry Library, Royal Botanic Garden and Cove Park); Dumfries and Galloway’s new International Environmental Arts Festival (a collaboration between Wide Open, Crichton Carbon Centre, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Spring Fling and The Stove) and Dunbar’s North Light Arts’ Journeys: Walking a Line - a year-long site-specific project inspiring creative journeys and collaborations exploring the nature and potential of the environment through the act of walking, marking and recording; the seeding and sharing of ideas, exhibition, performance and participation. N.B. Please see below for full details and quotes of all funded projects.
Commenting on the writing and walking residencies, Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “The Year of Natural Scotland encourages reflection on some large questions: how do people shape what’s natural? How do we learn to really look at what nature offers? Is nature a comfort or a challenge? Our project enables poets to consider these and many other aspects of nature in relation to Scotland’s wonderful Royal Botanic Gardens, bringing people and poets together to walk and talk, observe and write in four locations across Scotland. ‘By leaves we live’ is written on the Library’s threshold, and we’re delighted to have been given the opportunity to animate that thought.”
The funding was announced today ahead of the world premiere performance of Infinite Scotland at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. Infinite Scotland – joint funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage - explores the country’s contrasting landscapes, coastlines and cities in a project that features breath-taking images, music, film and words. Inspired by poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and narrated onstage by actor Blythe Duff and writer and broadcaster Kenny Taylor, the performance piece is set against a multi-media backdrop created by Arts in Motion’s John McGeoch and live music by The Island Tape’s David Allison.
“Scotland’s environment and culture are inextricably linked strands of the country’s DNA,” explained Infinite Scotland producer Bryan Beattie. “We wanted to explore that, using images, music and words. Putting Scotland’s DNA under the microscope in this way helps open our eyes to what’s around us.
“There are remarkable things around us every day that sometimes we just don’t notice - and some things that we have just not been aware of at all. Sometimes looking at what’s around us in a fresh way can reveal something completely new about it.”
Actor Blythe Duff said: "I love watching a piece that blends different elements, so I am delighted to be part of Infinite Scotland. As a performer, the project draws on so many different talents; it appeals on many levels, from the stunningly haunting singing voice of Maeve Mackinnon, to the beautifully crafted music, which underscores some powerful poetry, photography - and a few surprises.”
Commenting on today’s announcement, Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said: “Scotland is renowned for its breath-taking scenery, unique natural heritage, and world class arts. The Year of Natural Scotland programme is an opportunity for the creative and environmental sectors to inspire each other and develop new partnerships.
“The quality and number of applications received was extremely high and it is with a real sense of anticipation that we look forward to seeing these inspiring projects come to fruition across the country throughout the year.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said: "I’m delighted that throughout The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 these projects will be showcasing the creativity and diversity which Scotland’s world-renowned environment inspires.
“This funding means people in Scotland and our visitors will be given the opportunity to engage with their natural surroundings in innovative and exciting ways and to discover or rediscover the natural brilliance that exists throughout our country.”
Ian Jardine, Chief Executive with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said: "We have enjoyed working with Creative Scotland supporting local people to develop these creative and practical projects. The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 aims to inspire Scotland’s people to experience our stunning environment. It is particularly pleasing to see a focus on John Muir, who inspired so many people to explore and enjoy natural landscapes."
Supported projects across the country include:
1. Sense Scotland who work with children and adults with complex communication support needs and multi-sensory impairments, will take three groups into remote areas near Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow where they will work with artists to create sensory artworks based on their experiences of the landscape, that map out the area. (Award: £26,800)
Isobel MacRae, Arts Development Officer at Sense Scotland, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for some of the people we support to explore a remote environment and collaborate with an artist to express their experiences."
2. Walking With Poets is a Scottish Poetry Library, Royal Botanic Garden and Cove Park residency project in which four poets will take up month-long writing and walking residency at all four of Scotland's Botanic Gardens in Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Benmore in Argyll, Dawyck in the Borders, Logan in Dumfries & Galloway and Cove Park. (Award: £24,000)
Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “The Year of Natural Scotland encourages reflection on some large questions: how do people shape what’s natural? How do we learn to really look at what nature offers? Is nature a comfort or a challenge? Our project allows poets to consider these and many other aspects of nature in relation to Scotland’s wonderful Royal Botanic Gardens, bringing people and poets together to walk and talk, observe and write in four locations across Scotland. ‘By leaves we live’ is written on the Library’s threshold, and we’re delighted to have been given the opportunity to animate that thought.”
Glasgow & West
3. NVA are working with the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to launch Island Drift, a public art work that will transform the islands in the southern reaches of Loch Lomond using bespoke lighting technologies to create a compelling series of photographic works. (Award: £46,900)
Angus Farquhar, Creative Director NVA, said: “The sixteen islands in the southern waters of Loch Lomond have long held a fascination for many people, those both living in and passing through the area. Island Drift affords us the opportunity to communicate that relationship to the wider world.”
4. The Sound Out@Seven Lochs project will work with residents around the proposed Seven Lochs Wetland Park, a planned new wetland park spanning the Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire boundary between Easterhouse and Coatbridge, to create and present new music pieces and soundscapes inspired by the heritage and natural heritage of the area. This project is led by Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership. (Award: £23,000)
Lucy Tozer, Seven Lochs Wetland Park Community Engagement Officer, said: “The Seven Lochs Wetland Park will be Scotland’s largest urban nature park. We want local people and visitors to experience and enjoy the park in a range of different ways – so we’re really excited about the opportunity to use Year of Natural Scotland funding to bring together music and nature to celebrate the park in what we hope will be a unique and inspiring project.”
Dumfries and Galloway
5. Wide Open in partnership with Crichton Carbon Centre, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland will be working with Spring Fling and The Stove to present an International Environmental Arts Festival featuring commissions, talks, debates, workshops and events based on the themes of land and energy and centred around two international commissions in the east and west of the local area. (Award: £25,000)
Dr Jan Hogarth, Creative Director (Environment), Wide Open, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the news that Creative Scotland's Year of Natural Scotland are going to support our environmental Art Festival which we hope will celebrate the regions creative and environmental strengths while also helping to celebrate the region’s aspirations to become an international home for artist practice in landscape"
Edinburgh & East
6. North Light Arts Journeys: Walking a Line is a year-long creative project centred on the traditional east coast fishing town of Dunbar. It will evolve over the seasons, inviting artists to work within the landscape and to develop the theme of journeys with inventiveness and sensitivity to the nature and potential of our landscape and to environmental sustainability, encouraging creative participation within this rich, beautiful and diverse landscape, still largely unknown as the environment that inspired the great conservationist John Muir. This project will be delivered by North Light Arts in partnership with Friends of John Muir, ELC Museums and Arts Service, ELC Landscape and Countryside, Ranger Service, Incredibly Edible Dunbar, Dunbar Cycle Group, Dunbar Harbour Trust, Dunbar Scifest. (Award: £49,900)
Susie Goodwin of North Light Arts, said: “North Light Arts Journeys: Walking a Line This site-specific project will inspire many creative journeys and collaborations which will explore the nature and potential of our environment: through the act of walking, marking and recording; through the seeding, and sharing of ideas, exhibition, performance, and participation in the footsteps of John Muir in this, the Year of Natural Scotland."
7. Smallpetitklein Dance Company in partnership with Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and Forestry Commission Scotland will deliver an outdoor event with professional and non-professional dancers exploring the history, fauna and flora and a scavenger hunt around Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, culminating in a spectacle performance in a series of Super Eco Dome tents. (Award: £42,000)
Emma Jane Beatt, executive producer Smallpetitklein Dance Company, said, "Smallpetitklein are delighted to receive this award which will allow the company to build on our already expansive engagement programme. TENT:acular will provide an inspirational celebration for families and communities this summer in the north east of Scotland."
8. Tabula Rasa in partnership with The Tweed Forum and Southern Uplands Partnership will deliver a project that curates the spaces and activities around Scotland’s iconic River Tweed. Riverside meetings of artists, environmentalists and people working the river will bring focus to hidden elements inspiring a new body of artistic work in the region. (Award: £37,100)
Claire Pencak of Tabula Rasa, said: “Tabula Rasa is delighted to be awarded this Year of Natural Scotland funding and we are looking forward to working with our environmental partners The Tweed Forum and The Southern Uplands Partnership on a fascinating project that acknowledges the iconic status of the River Tweed.”
9. Artist, composer and television director Chris Dooks, in a project entitled Tiny Geographies, will explore areas of North East, telling their stories through different art forms. Scotland’s leading contemporary fiddle players Paul Anderson and Aidan O’Rourke will compose new pieces in response to natural environments around Aberdeenshire. Working with the community on both elements the project will result in a week-long festival at Woodend Barn and other venues across Deeside. This project will be delivered by Woodend Arts Ltd in partnership with Cairngorm National Park, Mar Lodge, Glen Tanar Charitable Trust (Ranger Service) and Scottish Natural Heritage. (Award: £33,700)
Nicola Henderson Director at Woodend Barn, said: “We are located in one of the world's most unique, diverse and beautiful landscapes and we are delighted to receive support for a project that allows us to look closely at our local tiny geographies while making universal connections through the dark skies above. Chris Dooks, Aidan O'Rourke and Paul Anderson will work with our local community on interpreting these landscapes through a variety of different art forms.”
10. Natural Bennachie will see three artists collaborating with partners and the local community to explore the natural heritage of the most prominent landmark in the North East of Scotland. The project will culminate in an eco-friendly public celebration, site-specific artworks and art-science collaborations. (Award £40,000). This project will be delivered by Scottish Sculpture workshop in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service, The Bailies of Bennachie, University of Aberdeen and Gray's School of Art, RGU. www.naturalbennachie.org
Emily Wyndham Gray, Curator of Facilities and Programmes at Scottish Sculpture Workshop, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Natural Bennachie has been awarded this grant. The project offers a completely unique opportunity to bring together multi-media artists to work alongside the local community, scientists, academics, environmental and conservation professionals, navigating the histories embedded in our landscape and re-connecting with the natural environment. Embracing the ideologies of environmental pioneer John Muir, the project partners are looking forward to sharing in the celebration of Bennachie with the artists, local communities and visitors to the North East this year.”
11. My Place in the Natural World aims to empower young people from Aberdeen to develop new creative digital media to celebrate and share the outstanding beauty of four Country Parks in the North-East of Scotland. This project is led by the Reading Bus, Aberdeen City Council in partnership with Music Without Bars . (Award £42,000)
David Leng, Head of Schools and Education Establishments at Aberdeen City Council, said: "This is an exciting opportunity for Aberdeen City Council pupils to work with the Reading Bus team to explore and discover the intrinsic natural beauty of the North-East of Scotland. Utilising new digital technologies, translate their findings in innovative and creative ways"
Highlands & Islands
12. Highland Print Studio will work in partnership with Cape Farewell to deliver an exhibition of contemporary visual art called Sexy Peat, celebrating the ecology and heritage of the Lewis blanket bog and highlighting the significant role that peat plays in global climate regulation. The project will also celebrate the Gaelic heritage relating to the bog and the significance of the bog to the people who have lived with it. (Award: £45,200)
Alison McMenemy, Director, Highland Print Studio, said: "The Lewis peatland is a big player in climate regulation that has never received the press awarded to its sexy tropical peers. We're delighted to get the opportunity to bring artists and scientists together to celebrate this remarkable and haunting landscape."
13. Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative who seek to ensure the waters surrounding the isle are used sustainably will work with composers, Inge Thomson and Lise Sinclair, to create Da Fishing Hands, a project featuring music and song inspired by documentation about Fair Isle’s fishing grounds and their changing use since 1900. (Award:£16,000)
Composer Inge Thomson, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded support for our project "Da Fishing Hands". The Sea represents life, in the very deepest sense, to islanders. As artists we seek to confirm this and raise awareness of the importance of nurturing our marine resources."
While Islander Jimmy Stout, said:"Environmentally, the sea has always been part of Fair Isle; it is now linked more closely to our culture as well, as people become more aware of socio-economc problems. This funding is good news, as it will brighten our star for what we are trying to achieve."
14. Sweeny’s Bothy / Bothan Shuibhne, proposed by The Bothy Project (Bobby Niven and Iain MacLeod) in collaboration with Alec Finlay, is an artist-designed retreat for artists, writers, and the public. A programmed series of events, walks, and residencies, reflecting on wild nature and contemporary culture, broadcast via an ambitious multimedia website. (Award:£46,500)
Bobby Niven from the Bothy Project said, "The Bothy Project is excited by the prospect of working with artist Alec Finlay to realise a unique programme of events for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 that will culminate in a new art residency bothy which will then become part of The Bothy Project network of small-scale art residency spaces in distinct and diverse locations around Scotland. Our objective is to create platforms for artists to journey and explore the peculiarities of Scotland’s history, mythology, landscape and people, developing a new model of art residency that focuses on accessibility."
Find out more about the Year of Natural Scotland.