Monday, 18 May 2015

Scottish Renaissance

Frightened Rabbit
In 2009 we celebrated 250 years since the birth of our national poet Robert Burns with many events and concerts across Scotland..

Today in 2015 rock bands like Frightened Rabbit can sell out US venues and are signed to Atlantic records. They have developed their fan base worldwide while being based in Scotland. Also the band The Errors, an electric rock band, say they don’t need a London office to communicate today. According to radio DJ Vic Galloway PR and Publishing continue to be based in London.

Scotland over the past decades has hosted some of the world’s most successful arts programs and events. T in the Park is the UK’s second live event; Celtic Connections is one of the main worldwide roots music events. Edinburgh festival is the worlds biggest arts festivals.

Twenty years ago people might have mocked folk singer songwriters The Proclaimers Scottish accents – and now it is normal for musicians here to sing with their Scottish accents and write about where they come from and be proud!.

The band Twilight Sad say that ‘American audiences sing back to us in pretend Scottish accents!’ Great!

Our main festivals encourage a great deal of cross-collaborations which are highly productive and illuminating. Folk singer songwriter Karine Polwart has spoken of the special musical collaborations that are welcomed here between different artists. As long as we continue to welcome and embrace other cultures – as we do whole heatedly at our arts festivals.

The internet has broken down barriers too and this cultural identity and pride in your roots has been happening elsewhere. 
Biffy Clyro

The question remains whether cultural revivals have driven devolution – I can’t help but feel they have. It is part of the crucial debates over our distinctly Scottish identity. 
Today many young musicians are less affected by the Radio One formula sound. It used to be Scottish artists felt second rate, but no more!

Frightened Rabbit, ‘Now there is more confidence about staying in Scotland. ‘


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Artist Peter Doig


Peter Doig is a Scottish painter. I read of him recently in a Times magazine article by Bryan Appleyard. Oddly I had never heard of him, even while I often visit art galleries here and abroad.  He was born in Edinburgh, the Tate lists him as English.

When others were turning to conceptual art in the 1990s Doig stuck to his painting.  
I went to check on his paintings and was highky impressed - such subtle colour and tones, thoughtful narratives and careful immersive reflections, Beautiful. 


Doig is one of the most renowned living figurative painters, he has settled in Trinidad since 2002. In 2007, his painting White Canoe sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then an auction record for a living European artist. In February 2013, his painting, The Architect's Home in the Ravine, sold for $12 million at a London auction. 

His work is at the Palazzetto Tito, Venice from May 5, Venice biennial of art.   http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/peter_doig.ht


Saturday, 9 May 2015

National Art Galleries of Scotland

National Art Galleries of Scotland

At the Scottish National galleries in Edinburgh - I used to pass every day on my way to secondary school - there has not been a Scottish director for the past 60 years.  The Scottish painters lie in its basement.  Most Scottish artists+ have had to move abroad to the likes of New York to gain recognition.  

In 2012 the galleries held an exhibition titled Van Gogh to Kandinsky | Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910 with not one Scottish painter in the display. 

The National Galleries of Scotland for the last 60 years have been run by directors from England? Does this matter?  Well yes if you value a country's expression. For those who wish to keep Scotland's historical and cultural identify suppressed it matters also.   
 In most other major capital cities worldwide they house one half of the gallery for international art and the other sections for art of that country.  It would seem strange to visit the national art galleries of say Barcelona and for there not to be any Spanish art there? No idea what message this sends out to foreign visitors that in Scotland we rarely exhibit our own Scottish artists.

On my first visit to the refurbished Scottish portrait gallery a few years ago, I looked in vain for any respected Scottish photographers - when I know there are many! I hope this may be remedied now?    

Labour peer George Robertson, former Defence secretary and NATO chief, gave a speech at Dundee university where he claimed that places like Flanders and Catalonia have more history and culture than Scotland - when it fact Catalonia does not have anything like the long centuries of history Scotland has as a defined and separate country. In fact Scotland has a longer history than the UK has. 

He said regarding Scottish independence, " There is no linguistic differentiation, no great cultural discrimination that might ague for it, like in some other countries...."they have language and culture and all these sort of things. Scotland doesn't have any of that."    

I recommend reading the book 'Arts of Independence'  and 'Arts of the Resistance' on the suppression of Scottish arts, by Alexander Moffat and Alan Riach; the cultural argument and why it matters most. 

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Scottish summer festivals 2015


 - Party at the Palace, Linlithgow -  8th to 9th August. Headliners - Travis, Nile Rodgers, Julie Fowlis, Justin Currie, The Feeling, 

- The Stopover Festival, Rothiemurchus Cairngorms (NEW) - 31st July and 1st August.  Headlined by Mumford & Sons and their new album. Also with Primal Scream, The Maccabees, Ben Howard, Lianne La Havas and Honeyblood will also be performing at the 25,000-ticket event.  http://www.gentlemenoftheroad.com/stopovers/aviemore/

Boswell Book Festival -  the World's Only Festival of Biography and Memoir. May 10th at Dumfries house  Ayrshire. Jung Chang, author of international bestseller Wild Swans (yet to be published in China) will talk about her remarkable life, family and works. Plus many more authors.
'Moa ordered the flowers pulled up from the ground; Empress Cixi wore them in her hair.'

- Mugstock Festival (new), at Mugdock country park north of Milngavie - 7th to 9th August.  Orkestra del Sol, Preston Reid, Siohban Wilson.   http://www.mugstock.org/

- Pittenweem Arts festival, 1st to 19th August.  http://www.pittenweemartsfestival.co.uk/

 

Other festivals include  -  Belladrum Tartan heart festival 6th - 8th August west of Inverness.  Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preacher, Proclaimers.  http://www.tartanheartfestival.co.uk/

 Wickerman in Ayrshire with the Waterboys. Sadly no Rockness in 2015. 

T In The Park, the biggest weekend Scottish summer festival, has now moved to a new site at Strathallan Castle, while there are problems with ospreys nests.  http://www.tinthepark.com/