Celebrating Natural Scotland

1 Feb 2013

THE  latest flagship pseudo-festival from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland is upon us.

THE Year of Natural Scotland 2013 event launched with the opening performances of Infinite Scotland at Eden Court in late January, and will run throughout the year, incorporating further art and cultural events as well as promoting our natural heritage.

FOURTEEN projects were announced last month, ranging from the Sound Out@Seven Lochs project in an urban wetland park outside Glasgow to the Natural Bennachie project exploring the culture and natural heritage of Aberdeenshire’s iconic mountain and the environment around Dunbar in the east that inspired the great conservationist John Muir.

Infinite Scotland - The Lairig Ghru (photo Laurie Campbell)

Infinite Scotland - The Lairig Ghru (photo Laurie Campbell)

The projects are designed to involve community groups, individual artists and the wider community, whether Scotland-wide or in specific locations. They include Glasgow-based NVA’s new public artwork Island Drift, a collaboration between NVA, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, which aims to transform the islands in the southern reaches of Loch Lomond using bespoke lighting technologies to create a compelling series of photographic works. NVA’s previous work includes projects in Glen Lyon, at the Old Man of Storr in Skye, and Kilmartin.

Writing and walking residencies are planned at several of Scotland’s Botanic Gardens, including Benmore and Cove Park in Argyll, while Journeys: Walking a Line is a year-long site-specific project created by North Light Arts in Dunbar, “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.”

Other projects in the Highlands & Islands include Sexy Peat, a collaboration between Highland Print Studios and Cape Farewell celebrating Lewis; Da Fishing Hands, a music-based project on Fair Isle led by Inge Thomson and Lisa Sinclair; and Sweeny’s Bothy, an artist-designed retreat for artists, writers and the public from The Bothy Project and Alec Finlay.

There will doubtless be much debate in the coming months over both the generalities – is this kind of event the most appropriate way to support arts and culture, for example, or is it cynical for a wind-farm obsessed Government to promote natural heritage? ­ – as well as the specific events of the Year of Natural Scotland, but the record from earlier extravaganzas suggests it will inevitably be a mixed bag of gains and losses. As ever, we hope for the best ….

Kenny Mathieson


© Kenny Mathieson, 2013