Year of Natural Scotland 2013

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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.

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.”