Wednesday, 26 June 2019

How do new stories evolve?


Through understanding our past stories: and as singer songwriter Rab Noakes says, "a future with no past has no future". New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.

Professor Tom Devine writes, in his latest book, The Scottish Clearance: A History of the Dispossessed, that until the 1960s, there were few academic studies on Scotland’s history after the Union of 1707.((there were more on Yorkshire)

Is democracy failing today, with the rise of populism, and as people seem to have lost all trust and faith in the system? Military expert now say its all about counterintelligence – Russia and China are experts in this field. Its no longer about huge warships and its about who controls information flows. With the rise of cyber warfare and online propaganda, how can we protect our freedoms and democracies. How can we regain trust?

We in Europe we must remember we do have the rule of law, some accountability measures of free press, vibrant arts and quality universities. Knowledge is central – reading stories, creativity, collaborations and understanding our past.  

Most Scots have pride in their Scottish culture: from our highland glens, ballads and poetry, Edinburgh enlightenment, border hills, western isles, imposing historic castles and ever changing skies. We’ve had turbulent histories: William Wallace, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn, Reformation, Jacobites. We are known for our whisky, Clyde ships, fish, oil, tweed, tartan, golf, poetry and song.

We’ve given the world the great songs of Robert Burns and other great writers. And innovations such as Penicillin, steam engines and more. The traditions are continued by powerful troubadours of folk music with popular live acoustic music and world scale festivals such as Celtic connections and Edinburgh festivals – the world’s biggest arts festival. 

I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really. 

Our national poet Robert Burns was a ferocious reader and read at the dinner table. He enjoyed his aunts stories, his mothers songs and his fathers reading and conversations. Famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield, valued his vast library of books above all else. Francoise Frenkel, fled the Nazis ( author of No Place to Rest my Head) - and it was her books and poems that kept her hope alive. When the Communist regime in Russia wanted to control arts and thought, they exiled any free thinkers, writers and artists on the Philosophy steamer. 

Edinburgh International book festival blog 2019


We Need new Stories 
THREADS FOR 2019 INCLUDE – 
Fragile Planet, Indigenous Voices, Her Story, Stories that make Scotland. Amnesty International Imprisoned writers series, music and more.
Contributors in 2019 – Val McDermid, Deray McKesson, Eilidh Muldoon, 
Famous names attending EIBF 2019 – Salman Rushdie, Elif Shafak, Naomi Wolf, Kevin Barry, Ian Rankin, Ben Okri, Cathy Newman, Kirsty Wark, Fintan O’Toole. Alexander McCall Smith. 


Through understanding our past stories: and as Rab Noakes says, "a future with no past has no future." New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.
Karl-Ove-Knausgaard
Brian May
Chelsea Clinton
Murray-Lachlan-Young
Ruby Wax
BOOKS are the keys to empathy, understanding, otherness, journeys of imagination, we could never otherwise take. A love of books begins before a child can walk or talk, by the joy of bedtime stories.

EIBF welcomes children authors, illustrators, academics, politicians, novelists, scientists, journalists, travel writers, musicians, artists, poets,


Famous names attending EIBF 2019 – Salman Rushdie, Elif Shafak, Naomi Wolf, Kevin Barry, Ian Rankin, Ben Okri, Cathy Newman, Kirsty Wark, Fintan O’Toole. Alexander Macoll Smith. Roddy Doyle, Kate Atkinson, Joanne Harris, DelRay McKessan (black lives matter) 
Sporting heroes – Chris Hoy, Katherine Graniger, Doddie Weir, 

A talk on homes for Migrants and Refugees – with Val McDermid, singer songwriter Karine Polwart, author Ali Smith, and Nayrouz Qarmour, (will speak of a Damascus refugee camp) who will discuss why people have to leave their homelands. The UK is a nation of immigrants (as is the US). What do we really mean by fear of immigrants? Is it a result of Blair’s uncontrolled influx of secret huge numbers of migrants. 

This year as well as main sponsor Baillie Gifford, the book festival has teamed up with the New York Times,with several of their journalist’s and writers – Naomi Wolf, Laura Watts, Yanan Yang, Adam Satariano, Josh Haner, 
*Music – Beerjacket, Tracy Thorn, Stuart Cosgrove, James MacMillan. 

More than ever we need ‘open spaces’ to discuss new worlds, adaptability, progress, to build bridges and for accountability. How do we encourage healthy, informed debates. 

**The joy and love of books in central, and EIBF also has a large Children’s book festival. 
EIBF celebrates the written and spoken word in the perfect setting of Charlotte square Edinburgh. EIBF is a celebration of books, written words ideas, spaces to collaborate and exchange views, inspiring stories. retrieving and renewing. 

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL - 11th to 27th August 2018




How do new stories evolve? 

Through understanding our past stories: and as Rab Noakes says, a future with no past has no future. New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.

Professor Tom Devine writes, in his latest book, The Scottish Clearance: A History of the Dispossessed, that until the 1960s, there were few academic studies on Scotland’s history after the Union of 1707.((there were more on Yorkshire)
Is democracy failing today, with the rise of populism, and as people seem to have lost all trust and faith in the system? Military expert now say its all about counterintelligence – Russia and China are experts in this field. Its no longer about huge warships and its about who controls information flows. With the rise of cyber warfare and online propaganda, how can we protect our freedoms and democracies. How can we regain trust?

We in Europe must remember we do have the rule of law, some accountability measures of free press, vibrant arts and quality universities. Knowledge is the key – reading stories, creativity, collaborations and understanding our past.  

**I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really. 

Most Scots have pride in their Scottish culture: from our highland glens, ballads and poetry, Edinburgh enlightenment, border hills, western isles, imposing historic castles and ever changing skies. We’ve had turbulent histories: William Wallace, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn, Reformation, Jacobites. We are known for our whisky, Clyde ships, fish, oil, tweed, tartan, golf, poetry and song.

We’ve given the world the great songs of Robert Burns and other great writers. And innovations such as Penicillin, steam engines and more. The traditions are continued by powerful troubadours of folk music with popular live acoustic music and world scale festivals such as Celtic connections and Edinburgh festivals – the world’s biggest arts festival. 
I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really.  

Our national poet Robert Burns was a ferocious reader and read at the dinner table. He enjoyed his aunts stories, his mothers songs and his fathers reading and conversations. Famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield, valued his vast library of books above all else. Francoise Frenkel, fled the Nazis  (author of No Place to Rest my Head) - and it was her books and poems that kept her hope alive. When the Communist regime in Russia wanted to control arts and thought, they exiled any free thinkers, writers and artists on the Philosophy steamer. 

Friday, 31 May 2019

Forgotten Women

Women pass on our stories, but they are often forgotten in the archives and annals of history. 
We live in a world where most of the statues are to men. I used to wonder were there no great women artists or musicians. Then I discovered, yes there were many outstanding women artists! –

In my life time there have been women of genius and great accomplishments – Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagard, Hilary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and many, many more. 

There are many women, who not only supported their husbands, but added to their creativity. 
I also read of how women influenced their children – Robert Burns learned not only from his father, but from his aunt’s stories and his mother singing the traditional ballads. 

Scottish author Sara Sheridan has written a new book where all the names in Scotland are female names!
Where are the Women? (2019) Sara Sheridan
Margaret MacDonald
Elsie Inglis

 A Few Examples

Elsie Inglis: Female hero honoured in Serbia. There is no statue to her in Edinburgh, only  plaque in st Giles, she brought hygiene to war conditions and saved many lives. 
**Elsie Inglis, doctor and suffragette, who fundraised for the first Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH)  hospice for poor women Edinburgh in 1894. She attended Edinburgh medical school and qualified from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Edinburgh. She trained at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s new hospital for women London and later at the Rotunda Dublin. She was appalled by the general standard of care and lack of specialization in the needs of female patients. 

She is best known for The Elsie Inglis maternity hospital and her war work when she set up the SWH for Foreign Service which sent medical teams to Belgium, France, Serbia, and Russia. After the British army turned her down she gained support from the French government. She was told – to go home and sit still by the UK war office! She went to Serbia and worked to improve hygiene to reduce typhus and other epidemics. She was awarded the Order of the White Eagle of Serbia

Margaret MacDonald
– (1864 -1933) Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s.With her husband, renowned architect Rennie Mackintosh, she was one of the most influential members of the loose collective of the Glasgow Four. She exhibited at the 1900 Vienna Secession, where she was arguably an influence on the Secessionists Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffman. Her husband Charles Macintosh said, Margaret is the genius, I have only the talent.’

Beverly Martyn, English singer songwriter (1947 - )
Apparently John Martyn wrote his best songs with Beverly Kutner, his wife, which she gets little credit for. Beverly had worked with Paul Simon, Nick Drake. They recorded three albums together before John was persuaded by the record label to go solo - Stormbringer, Road to Ruin and Bless the Weather. She played piano while they wrote songs together for Solid Air.  Beverly was then left on the house on the hill to raise their children. John toured and turned to alcohol. Beverly left him after ten years of marriage.    
Nelle Harper Lee (1926 – 2016), author of To Kill a Mocking bird, one of the best loved American classics. 

Sofonisba Anguissola (1550 Spain) 
Lavinia Fontana (1520 Italy) 
Artemisia Gentileschi (1615 Italy). 
Clara Peeters (1594) 
Lady Butler (1846 England) 
Berthe Morisot (1841 France) 
Karin Larsson (1859 Sweden)  
Margaret MacDonald (1864 Scotland) 
Georgia O'Keefe (1887 America) 
Elsie Inglis -  (1864 –1917) Scottish doctor and suffragette,
Muriel Spark – (1918 – 2006) Scottish author
Margaret Macdonald – (1864 -1933) Scottish artist
Mary Somerville  (1780 – 1872)
Mary Barbour(1875  – 1958)


Friday, 17 May 2019

Victoria Morton's painting Soliton Kelvingrove


At Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, from the Hamilton Bequest (since 1927), there are world-renowned works by Glasgow Boys William Kennedy, Scottish Colourist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and painter Joan Eardley as well as Monet's View of Ventimiglia and The Young Girls by American Impressionist Mary Cassatt.

The final paintings are by Scottish abstract painter Victoria Morton's Soliton hangs at the gallery's south east stairs next to Salvador Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross.
As an art student, she came to Kelvingrove and was inspired by the Scottish Colourists and the French Impressionist collection. The colours in her work and the broken brush she is looking back to past master examples: a sensory experience.



" Morton's paintings are closely connected to her practice as a musician (she sings as well as playing bass recorder, piano and analogue synthesizer). Working through painting, sculpture, found objects, photography and sound, the artist explores colour perception, expression and non-verbal communication. "They were very open-minded," 



Morton, "I wanted to make a series of works where people could just walk in and experience them all at once, almost like they were different movements in a piece of music. I was thinking about broad and universal themes like light and sound and the physics of sound. The name Soliton comes from a type of wave form that exists in nature and also in physics. I was interested in that sound aspect because I work with music as well. "Soliton is quite a sensory piece. There is a direct connection to music and waveforms. I wanted to make a large scale, abstract expressionist painting that relates to real experiences. I love colour and the effect it has. Colour is a type of waveform, so there are different frequencies at play.”