EIBF 2017 Building Bridges and
Tearing them Down:
Divisions and Collaborations and
The sun is
shining the first days at EIBF and Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong, is
being interviewed by stv on the lawn. The Scotsman is being sold along with
freebies at the entrance (although the Scotsman is now the Scottish Daily Mail
and not the paper it was back in the 70s) and we are ready to hear, meet and
greet the famous and new emerging writing talent.
to celebrate 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.
There were debates this year on how to build on the nature of “civic”
nationalism, with collaboration and with looking outward to common interests,
shared values, an informed country, and to renew Scottish arts.
**EIBF 2017! I want to
praise the many open-minded cultured, lateral thinking, travelling journey men
and women – the writers in Scotland today – who value the journey; try to
comprehend the new; the young as well as the past; the historic streets as well
as the complex internet. They are looking for ‘open spaces’ to discuss new
worlds, adaptability, progress, to build bridges and for accountability.
many great Scottish thinkers, writers, doers, of the past to follow on from
Buchanan, Thomas Muir, David Hume, Allan Ramsay, Robert Burns, James Clark
Maxwell, Carnegie, Walter Scott. As
well as the Edinburgh enlightenment figures of David Hume, Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith and Adam Fergusson. For centuries
Scotland had kept close and political links to Europe part of the community of European scholars – Diderot, Goethe,
Montesquieu and Voltaire. In Scotland the most literate nation in Europe in
1750 - in the 18th century Edinburgh was a leading light in the Enlightenment. Change can
be good or bad, but always necessary.
|Writers of 'Nasty Women'|
We live in
such strange times”
article I read was Andrew O’Hagan on his journey to Yes. Wonderful piece.
an inspired talk “on his journey from no to yes, of his being at the count and
driving home after to Ayrshire and his feeling that the future Scotland had
changed that day. He had been to sit in on the court rulings over May’s attempt to use the 'Royal prerogative' to railroad in the Article 50 for the UK to leave Europe, without any
consultation with Westminster. He was horrified at the slamming of
Irish Day! Thursday was Irish day and how polite they
were too! I dashed up after too to see the performers on the high street and
attended a few shows
enjoy a couple of nights at the free Unbound shows – and this proved a quality,
**Unbound “Paul Muldoon’s Picnic.”
Irish Evening. ‘A
Gathering of poetry, prose and music’ – that included Mercury nominated Lisa
Hannigans, who writes songs of love, loss and longing.
|Sandy Moffat, Alan Riach, John Purser|
(1) *Framing the
Arts’ - statesmen of Scottish Arts - Professor of Scottish literature Alan Riach, painter Sandy Moffat, and
musician and composer, John Purser
How we might build a more positive
future for Scotland and of the general ignorance of Scots of their arts and
discussed Arts at the heart of life in Scotland and the cultural history of
literature, painting, and music. Raich had a 2 page spread in the National newspaper,
that day on the artist Margaret Hunter that day. They spoke of the cultural
divisions and battlegrounds and they spoke of knowing what was in their own
house, as well as looking outwards. Book,
‘Arts and the Nation, ‘
(2) *Gerry Hassan and Michael
Keating (professor of Politics
mentioned that London’s’ shadow was only similar to Moscow in Russia and the
dysfunctionality of the UK. Books ‘Scotland
the Bold, A Nation Changed?
(3) ‘Visions for a Future
Scotland’ - with singer songwriter Karine
Polwart, Thomas McEachan, from the Youth Parliament), Chris Van Der Kuyh of the
Dundee Games industry. They discussed Voltaire’s quote “We look to Scotland”
–and whether Scotland still has this clout today? They all spoke of what we
value most about people – respect, compassion, warmth. Also that Adam Smith did not only write of
economics, he also wrote, Theory of
Moral Statements of Human Empathy’. Smith also fought against slavery.
|Hera Lindsay Bird|
there is no right or wrong, yes or no, and as the song claims ‘About building
Bridges' or 'Fifty Tones of Grey', (my son’s successful a Capella group!). How do
we build those bridges?
shot of stardust perhaps – My first thought is it’s not the politicians who
have all the answers and their positions are too entrenched. We need
bridges, conversations and more diverse voices, more than ever. A theme running
though the EIBF this year was the need to bring different voices together and for
physical platforms through the Arts.
Its been 250
years since Burns wrote his epic ‘A Mans a Man’. He wrote of equality – which
he learnt from ministers and great philosophical writers in the Declaration
of Arbroath Scotland and its charter for democratic principles, taken on by
American and French struggles late 18th century. The great thinkers
saw the hoped for ‘that all men and women are equal’ – perhaps it’s the journey
that is harder to understand. How do we get there?
even hundreds of years after these great thinkers (and all the great thinkers
today) – nothing much has changed. Scotland may
believe in equality, freedom, education and fairness for all citizens, but we
are still a land of great divisions.
|Nicholas Hytner |
*At EIBF there were questions over the concept of "Nationalism".
Scottish nationalism is not about race, or religion, its about all who live
here. At EIBF politician Chris Patten and Turkish writer Elif Shafak, questioned that N can ever be a force for good –
the opposite is that globalization is not always the right answer either. Edinburgh is very much an international and European city. In the Arts it is crucial to understand your own heritage and also to look outwards. Scotland’s
self-rule is firstly about democracy and secondly the importance of being
both national and international and modelled on small countries in a bigger
trading block, such as Norway. They misunderstand, SN is the opposite - and not a narrow or nasty 'blood and soil' nationalism - SN has always been inclusive, open, diverse, outward looking and welcoming and about how do we build bridges.
(All photos are copyright of the author, for any Licence for use online or in print media, please contact on my Facebook, thanks)
AC Grayling – ‘Democracy and its
Alan Riach – ‘The Winter book’,
‘Outriders’ – a special project of
both Scottish and American writers travelling across America to express the state of play in this highly diverse country today.
Alan Riach, John Purseer, Sandy
Moffat – ‘Arts and the Nation’
Gerry Hassan – ‘Scotland the Bold’, ‘A Nation
Michael Keating - ‘A Wealthier, Fairer Scotland’