Friday, 27 November 2015

New Writers at Edinburgh book festival 2015

Shami Chakrabarti
Neil Zink

Lucy Ribchester
Oscar Coop-Phane
Rob Davis
Rob Davis and Karrie Fransman.jpg
Rob Doyle
Shami Chakrabarti
Kevin Mayer and Neil Zink
Salia Simmuka

Creative Scotland not Responsive to the Arts

Run by bean counters

Culture is how a country expresses and views itself. Culture is vital to any healthy country.
Scotland has a brilliant history of inspirational poets, songs smiths, composers, novelists, innovators, inventors, painters, designers, and much more 

Herald theatre critic Mark Brown has written an open letter to Scotland’s art body Creative Scotland. He talks about the ethos of CS being based on Tony Blair and New Labour. With Bigger is better committees and a top-down approach that is market-driven and led by civil servants rather than artists.

Also in 2012 over a 100 writers and artists wrote to CS complaining over how it was being mismanaged. The then director Alan Dixon resigned. Mark writes that this is not only about a change personal but a change of ethos and organization.

Mark claims CS treats art and culture as an industry. At present the creative industries have an overly burdensome remit covering theatre, musicians, artists, writers, designers, games designers and architects. Along with a bean counter mentality. Mark suggests an Arts body for the artists and writers - and a separate Design Body for architecture and the Games industries.

I would have expected an arts council to be led by those who have not only lived and breathed art all their lives, but are also creative as writers, musicians or painters. We have some outstanding music writers and arts critics in Scotland. Why are they not employed in our arts body? 

If you look at world class arts of any kind – they are normally run by capable, bright and highly creative motivated people, not bean counters. Otherwise the arts produced become bland, mediocre, monochrome and boring,
At the moment Scotland also has a renaissance of writers, artists and musicians that should be celebrated and encouraged to thrive. Our arts body needs to be promoting excellence and innovation in the arts.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Histories are the Stories we re-write

Stories are the oral traditions we tell each other and pass on. The songs and poems we sing. The crafts and the images we create and paint. Our memories and past inform who we are and where we see our future.  Like the monuments raised, our names, the names of places.

**Each January in Glasgow Celtic Connections celebrates musical connections and traditions between Scotland, Ireland, England, America, Canada and Brittany traditions. These are the traditions that have been passed down and also travelled continents. I am not sure how anyone can dispute these connections exist. There are many similarities between the country music of the Smokies and Irish and Scottish reels. This was never meant to be about one race of people, but rather about the grassroots traditions and stories, collaborations and beautifully hand made instruments.  


Written history however can confuse us - it depends on who won and who then wrote the story.  Renowned historian Stuart McHardy writes that is why the oral tradition and stories expressed in our arts and culture matter a great deal. They often tell us more than the printed historical texts. 

Scottish folklorists such as Hamish Henderson, Margaret Bennett and Dick Gaughan and also our national poet  Robert Burns two centuries ago, travelled and collected the old songs and poems, many that had never been written down before - songs such a Auld Lang Syne. Burns was a great reader of many diverse voices and languages - he knew Scots, English, French and Latin - even though he never attended university. He was taught by a young Mr Murdoch, his father and was also self taught. He was also a great listener and reader and he learnt of the rights of everyman and the impact of rhythm and song.  He went on to write some of our best loved songs and poems.  

In 2015 a new exhibition at the British museum - "Celts; Arts and Identity" surprisingly claims the Celts have never existed. Well they exist in people's art, song and imagination. The exhibit claims the Celts were not a pure race and rather an 'idea'.  Perhaps all those outside the 'empire' and outside big Business?

Writing in the Sunday Times magazine, arts critic Waldemar Januszczak, claims that only in the mind do the Celts exist. What on earth can he mean by this? Does he mean that those in the Hebrides and in Ireland don’t have a separate and unique identity? It is all propaganda.

The Romans only mention those 'people' outside their walls as Gauls - of course Roman history is written from a Roman perspective.  What does this all mean?  Were the Romans or Vikings pure races? Centuries ago these races travelled and mixed with other races. 
Loch Ardinning

Britain’s stories of empire building are of the past. Some UK writers today over use the term ‘British’ – Britain only came into existence after the Union of the Parliament in 1707.  Do these people when aboard call themselves ‘British? Really” Do they not tell foreigners that they are English. I always call myself Scottish. I have little, If any idea of the stories, art or music that Britain stands for. There is a union flag and the songs of Empire building like Rule Britannia. I believe Empire building like the Romans, have had their day and are of the past – or I hope so. Empire building means someone has to pay a price.

I believe in a progressive, healthier future and one of the grassroots. The voices of respect for all and valuing our local stories and traditions.  We are shaped by our landscapes and I believe Scotland has a special and unique story to tell with it’s rough often wild landscapes and ever changing seasons.

Scotland was never ruled by Rome or the Normans and kept her clans and she has a very different story to tell than Ireland or England. Scotland has never been a part of England and never will be a region. no matter how much some Lords might wish it. 
Kilmartin Glen
Scotland has always been outward looking and had it's bridge of boats. We travelled by sea and most of our towns lie on the coast. ( just as also the Viking and Romans looked outward)

Scotland has for centuries had unique stories  - the kilt, bagpipes, golf, whisky, Clans, Burns song, mountain and heathers, wild weather…..Of course there are pipes worldwide – that doesn’t mean that the Scottish pipes don’t have a totally distinctive and unique sound to them.

Solidarite with France

Sadly I know there are always nutcases and evil in the world and I know we need good security, I still don't believe bombs are an answer. I believe when women's voices are suppressed, as in Muslim countries and elsewhere, unhealthy societies result. Glad to read of Suu Kyi victory in Burma.Has the west not been bombing innocent children and women in the middle east too? No easy answers here.

I read that thousands of Scottish rugby fans are in Paris for a Glasgow Warriors Rugby game today. Bombs and killings are not a solution. There needs to be another way. My thoughts and prayers with those in Paris.