Monday, 31 December 2018

The year of Young People

This is the year of young people – so I want to include quotes from some.

Questions is Ireland – I believe a youth forum should put forward their views - why should those over 70 year olds be deciding their futures in our fast changing world?

‘I want to own my music.’

Mhairi Black
‘Westminster is a private club masquerading as a parliament.’
‘Democracy only works when there is education beside it.’

Was the 2016 Brexit vote merely an opinion poll? Yes people want change – but perhaps rather than ripping ourselves out the worlds most successful trading block
What we really need is - a new , representative voting system, a constitution, real local accountability 

‘Your story is now a part of our story.’ Ireland welcomes immigration to keep faith with home cultures and to be sure to share them with new neighbours. 


Poet James Hogg wrote of the 1707 Union, 

"Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish both sides the Tweed. "
Both Sides the Tweed

So authentically sung by traditional Scots singer Dick Gaughan. May we all learn to work together - harmony, peace, friendship, honesty ... with more informed decision making. 

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Photography & Journeys 2018



2018 has been a constructively rewarding year.

I was delighted that one of Scotland’s top singer song writers Rab Noakes has used my photos from his Celtic Connections gig 2017 - on his new album Anniversarywille. Back in the 60s and 70s, Rab played with greats such as Gerry Rafferty and Lindisfarne. When I hung out in the folk scene then, I remember well the harmony singing of Noakes songs, such as Branch, Clear Day,To each and Everyone, Somebody Counts on Me. In 2007, I saw Noakes still going strong at an Oran Mor gig. He often includes a fifties classic, and this time a song my husband remembered his mother singing. He is also a dedicated Bob Dylan follower – check out his interpretation of Dylan’s Mississippi
Rab Noakes Old Fruitmarket Celtic Connections

I also had my first front page in the Scotsman of Chelsea Clinton, in Edinburgh to promote her book, She Persisted. Also photos used by major media (the BBC, Albert hall, Celtic Connections and more) and by press outlets. I have exhibited at Celtic Connections music festival.

I need to allow space, movement, escapism, movement and time for dreams in my images. There have been times when I was so in the moment. I’ve had shoots with hours of time when the artists, the musicians, the dancers who have put their hearts on the line over their commitment to hours of hard graft.  
Journeys
I have been travelling the Scottish islands – first to Orkney, which was awesome, and all its history. Orkney gently tells many stories – ancient sagas from its rich past. Second the outer Hebrides and the beauty of the shimmering soft blues of these landscapes is breathtaking, and its expanse of sands and surging seas....
 
V & A Dundee
Other Projects
I’ve been pursing many projects - too many perhaps! - and I’m often inspired. Hopefully.
My interest and love of history continues apace – this began as a child and with visits to Edina’s historic castle and the Holyrood palace, where I purchased a small blue book on the Stewart kings. At school though, I only learnt of the Tudors and European history.

We learn invaluable lessons by following those who walked before us. I’ve been searching for Scotia – in Edina’s ancient streets and reading Robert Crawford’s The Bard, a very well researched Robert Burns biography that focuses on his poetry and songs. Writing requires a great deal of research, time, commitment, editing, resources and mostly patience too – as do all the arts. We need many skills. 

In these strange times, the arts matters more than ever. 

Culture matters. Our stories matter.


Monday, 24 December 2018

2018 Signs of Hope


GRIT orchestra performed Bothy Culture
It is crucial, we look for signs of hope!

V & A Dundee - Impressive
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed a dramatic sculpted building that looks like the hull of a ship, and he says, the cliffs on Scotland’s east coast. The outside is hard but inside there is a softer feel. – and by contrast there is a huge flow of light and dramatic views over the Tay river and bridge. Kuma studied Mackintosh as part of his training and has clearly been influenced by Mackintosh clean lines, simplicity, and subtle use of light and drama. 


Wonderful to hear that he only surviving Mackintosh Willow tearoom, has been newly restored  over four years and opened in July 2018, 217 Sauchiehall St. Glasgow, first opened in 1903. 
https://www.glasgowmackintosh.com/attraction/mackintosh-at-the-willow

*Journalism. Quality investigative journalism works within strict boundaries. Also, content is king today. More have signed up for quality press since Trumps election. 
Huge congratulations to the National newspaper for high quality reporting, commentary, journalism and community – includes
Channel Four newscontinues to produce quality reporting.
Plus their new culture office in Glasgow.
New Scottish BBC channel – I live in hope!??
Nicola Sturgeon– continues to try to steer an informed sensible and caring course through the unchartered chaotic ignorant shambles of Brexit I wish her good luck!

**Music 2018
This year I attended wonderful concerts with music legends - 
Paul Simon, and Ry Cooder. Plus Blue Rose Code, aka Ross Wilson. 

CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2018
CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2018
*Highlights for me this year were – the impressive large scale concert at the Hydro Bothy Culture and Beyond; a tribute concert Old Fruitmarket for Dick Gaughan, with an excellent line-up;  
Session A9; the unique Blue Rose Code and his top band;
The quality line up of the Transatlantic Sessions; 
The Milngavie Folk club is now located at the Baljaffry church and welcomed big names such as – Donovan, Kiki Dee, Peggy Seeger, Cara Dillon and more this year. 
Threat to festivals
Major international arts festival are extremely concerned over the negative effects of Brexit.. Nick Barley of EIBF believes the damage of Brexit is already done. Its way past time that one of the pundits did a TV documentary explaining what the EU is and isn’t . It appears not only that most people have no idea, but the UK leaders and politicians have no idea wither! What a mess. Who in this crazy country, really understands what “being in the EU” really  means?? It is highly complex, and even after tow years still hasn’t been properly explained. If the UK doesn’t pay the 39 billion we owe the EU. It will be devastating for investment here.

*Quality Scottish websites – 
Mass rallies All Under One Banner; a more established Yes Movement; Indy supporting daily newspaper The National; Commonweal; SIC organization (Scottish Independence Convention); Yes Groups; mass SNP membership.  
While England dismisses the 2014 vote (you had your vote) there is a far more established, grassroots Yes Movement now, Apparently democracy is a one off thing. If it’s a choice between Brexit or the union (its no union) what will they choose?

*Tragedies 2018; Glasgow school of art fire. 
Brexit Fears - Many now see the stupidity involved and all the false promoises. The good ship Britannia is berthed in Leith docks, as a tourist attraction – which is where empire days should remain.

I believe we must be both international and national and not the one against the other. 
#BBC #Question time – surprised to see SNP Ian Blackford on!! Well done Blackford for providing the only opposition!

Its important in these very strange times (!!) that we look for calmer seas. In these strange times, the arts matters more than ever. 
There are answers. The answers are looking at what really natters.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Scottish heroes


Alexander Hamilton 

Admiral Cochrane – Named by Napoleon, "the sea wolf', he never lost a sea battle. After exclusion from the Royal Navy he assisted other country's to achieve their independence. 

John MacLean – Political hero

Alexander Hamilton – One of American founding father 

George Buchanan – Father of Democracy

Elsie Inglis -  Scottish doctor and medical reformer. 

Thomas Muir – Votes for all reformer.

Robert Burns – Kept Scots song alive

Charles Rennie MacIntosh – Architect for a simpler beauty of design


Margaret Macdonald -  Scottish artist and designer. 

The scale of contribution of physics and medicine. 

Notably James Clerk Maxwell –  important physicist. electromagnetic radiation

James Clerk Maxwell

Admiral Cochrane
George Buchanan

Lord Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775 – 1860), British naval Officer of the Royal Navymercenary and radical politician. He was a daring and successful captain of the Napoleonic Wars, leading Napoleon to nickname him Le Loup des Mers ('The Sea Wolf'). He was successful in virtually all his naval actions. He was dismissed from the Royal Navy 1814 following a controversial conviction for fraud on the Stock Excahnge. He helped organise and lead rebel navies of Chile and Brazil during their successful wars of independence1820s. While in charge of the Chilean Navy, Cochrane also contributed to Peruvianindependencethrough Freedom Expedition of Peru. He was also asked to help the Greek Navy but was prevented by events from having much impact.
In 1832, he was pardoned by the Crown and reinstated in the Royal Navy with the rank  of Rear Admiral of the Blue. His life and exploits inspired the naval fiction of 19th- and 20th-century novelists, particularly the figures of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brien's protagonist Jack Aubrey. 
John Maclean (1879 – 1923) a Scottish schoolteacher, and revolutionary socialist, Red Clydeside. He was notable for his outspoken opposition to the First World War which caused his arrest under the Defence of the Realm act, and loss of his teaching post, after which he became a full-time Marxist lecturer and organiser. In April 1918 he was arrested for sedition, and his 75-minute speech from the dock became a celebrated text for Scottish left-wingers. He was sentenced to five years' penal servitude, but was released after the armistice. Maclean believed that Scottish workers were especially fitted to lead the revolution, and talked of "Celtic communism", inspired by clan spirit. In captivity, Maclean had been on hunger strike, and prolonged force-feeding had permanently affected his health. He collapsed during a speech and died of pneumonia, aged forty-four.
James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879) Scottish scientist in mathematical physics, His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation. bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics"after the first one realised by Isaac Newton. With the publication of “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field”
in 1865, Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as wavesmoving at the speed of light. Maxwell proposed that light is an undulation in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. The unification of light and electrical phenomena led to the prediction of the existence of radio waves.
  

Scottish Collaborations and Medici Intersection


In Edina at the Mercat Cross, the great and good gathered -  from all walks of life and it was a great melting pot of ideas. They met near William Creech’s publishing house, in the time of great men such a David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Robert Burns, Alexander Nasmyth, and many others. 

During the renaissance the Medici family provided opportunities for people from different disciplines – artists, writers, scientists, engineers, natural philosophies – to all come together, in a space where they could work together to solve problems. All the labs in England and Wales are commercially driven and are completely privatised. Whereas in Scotland we have  a more cohesive organisation, not driven commercially.”
‘its partly our philosophy of working together, which comes out of the Scottish enlightenment. The enlightenment here emerged in a different way than it did in England and Wales and France and elsewhere, because instead of just having scientists and natural philosophers working together to solve problems we also had artists and writers and poets and we brought them all together in some sort of a rammy.” Forensic scientists Dundee centre, on their multi disciplinary approach. "  
Namh Nic Daeid, Dorector Forensic centre Dundee

Medici intersection

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Welcoming Different Cultures

It makes me unspeakably angry. The two big events I attend, take photos at and greatly enjoy each year – Celtic Connections and Edinburgh international book festival - are solidly based on diversity, inclusion, openness and collaboration from different cultures.

Since the Brexit vote it has become impossible for some international artists to travel to these festivals. This year several major African artists have decided it is far too difficult to try to attend Scottish festivals. 


The visa application process for artists, musicians and writers has been made so difficult by the UK Home Office, that many are now deciding its not worth the hassle. Donald Shaw (director of Celtic Connections) and Nick Barley (director of EIBF), both report that Britain is now a closed gate, particularly for African visas, and that festivals here will now have to be less international. Celtic Connections has been running for 26 years and EIBF, the oldest UK book festival since 1982; as well as hitting the main Edinburgh International festival.  

What will it mean for international festivals if our doors appear closed? Breixt sends out totally the wrong message. As Pat Kane puts it so well (National November 2018) – "Scottish nationalism is a cosmopolitan nationalism, as some German academics recently described their own country’s mainstream identity."  


British Nationals misunderstand Scottish Nationalism – which is not about isolationism but about democracy: its about all voices having a say, inclusiveness, more local government, equality and not isolation at all!?

Many artists, musicians and writers depend and thrive on cultural exchanges. Creatives value the ‘Four Freedoms’ – free movement of goods, services, capital and people. The academics, entrepreneurs and financial sectors also do. 


African acts were also unable to attended Peter Gabriel’s Womad festival, ‘ Do we really want  a white breaded Brexit flatland? A country that is losing the will to welcome the world?”

The withdrawal of the acts, from Mali and Senegal, has emerged months after Mr 
Shaw warned the festival may have to become less international in future over concerns Brexit would create a financial and logistical “nightmare.” 

Shaw has previously had to scale back his programme due to the plunging value of sterling since the EU vote. Celtic Connections has been hit months after the Edinburgh International Book Festival revealed up to a dozen authors had faced prolonged problems. 
Director Nick Barley warned the “humiliating” process – including demands to provide bank statements and birth certificates, and undergo biometric tests – would deter artists from visiting the UK in future. 

Mr Shaw said: “We had two quite large world music acts who I had pencilled in to perform that both pulled out about six weeks ago due to the hassle and stress of the visa application process. 

They just felt it wasn’t worth the grief. The application process was made so difficult for them they decided not to persevere. “These are top-class musicians who have been travelling around the world for 20 years. Britain now has a very solidly-locked gate, certainly in terms of African visas. 
“The whole thing undermines us as a Scottish festival with an international outlook. We always looked to embrace an internationalist programme. Anything that restricts that is disappointing. I don’t see any good reason for it.” 


Globalization versus identity


There is a significant struggle going on between remote, soulless, faceless, one size fits globalization – and our need for a sense of belonging and our roots, stories and identity. 

Many misunderstand what they term ‘Identity Politics’, as something harmful and isolationist. 
This is not the experience here in Scotland. Here it has nothing to do with race, and it is inclusive and about all who want to make a home here. Its about appreciating place, heritage and difference as positive things. The stories that make us who we are – our values, culture, 

Its also crucially important for Scotland to be international in out look and our major festivals are centred around welcoming the world to our doorstep.  

There are good aspects about globalization: ease of communication, progress, travel etc.
But there are many negatives too: giant exploitive corporations, reduced workers rights, pollution, its being characterless.  Our world has become so fast speed and automated and many of us spend so much time online interacting with a machine. 

I see young people returning now to valuing the real, authentic, local and the independent – hardback books, vinyl, traditional music, vintage clothes – something tangible and real to hold on to.

Also those posh socialists simply want to replace one elite with another. This is no answer. I want to se progressive, co-operative answer is to reform from within – by offering decent childcare, co-operative education, fair opportunities, improved healthcare. 

I want Scottish independence, because I believe in progressive and fair democracy.


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Outlaw King


New Netflix film ‘Outlaw King’, on the life of Robert the Bruce premiered in Edinburgh – the first major movie shot exclusively in Scotland. 
The movie was shot in several Scottish locations, Edinburgh, Lothian, Aviemore, Glencoe, Linlithgow palace, Dumbarton castle and Mugdock country park’s Kyper Pass, where they enacted the battle of Loudoun Hill. 
The film brings an estimated to have been worth £17.5m to the economy.

The film, from Scottish director David Mackenzie, stars Chris Pine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in an all-action tale about the 14th century rebel and his fight to win back control of his homeland and with Florence Pugh, who plays Elizabeth de Burgh.

Film and TV location tourism in Scotland is benefiting from increased spending on productions. Last month Creative Scotland revealed that film and TV production had been worth £95m to the Scottish economy in 2017 compared to just £45m in 2014, and £23m in 2007.
Scotland looks amazing in this film, along with strong performances form Pine and Pugh. 


‘‘Dumbarton castle is also in the area so there is a lot for visitors coming here. For us as a wee village more interest in Robert the Bruce could mean a lot of visitors.

**Also the Outlander series, has been a major worldwide success and  has built a big studio in Kilmarnock. It has brought in an increased tourism also. There are hopefully plans for a Scottish studio - its way past time for this! 
 Stuart Oldham of Variety.com said the film was “Netflix’s best big budget movie to date. Epic, brutal, surprisingly hilarious and tender..."   Netflix worldwide on November 9. https://www.netflix.com/title/outlawking

Story of Jacobites



Great series of very readable articles, entitled ‘Back in the Day’ of the Jacobites by Hamish MacPherson in the National newspaper. He asked, what if Prince Charlie had stayed in Edinburgh? 
 - https://www.thenational.scot/news/17187286.what-if-prince-charles-had-stayed-in-edinburgh-in-1745/ 
Interestingly if the Jacobites had won a very different Europe and America would have resulted. 

Hamish might have also focused more on the terrific religious wars of the time raging across Europe – The Thirty Years War. Also James VI’s daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, created a very important dynasty. 
It all became very messy, with the bloody suppression of Highland culture. That’s why Robert Burns could never wear a kilt!  


This was not Scots against English, as French, Irish, German soldiers took part.  

The belief in feudalism and elites still effects us today – with illegal landownership.