Ten awarded £30,000 to create a dream
A TOP TEN of Scottish popular music reaching back 300 years, a "social artwork" linking Highland communities through computers, and a plan to map ancient Glasgow, were yesterday revealed to be among the ten projects to win £30,000 Creative Scotland Awards.
A curious assortment of projects was picked for the annual awards.
Several artists have promised to produce websites. Others aim to turn out a novel, a giant sculpture of the Scottish psyche, plays, and a film script, and travel essays.
Two well-known names on the shortlist failed to make the final cut: the film director Annie Griffin, who was hoping to write a children's book, and the artist Lucy Skaer.
The arts council was at pains yesterday to prove that past years' winners have actually followed through their ideas once armed with the cash.
A 2004 winner, Alison Watt, is currently showing her project Dark Light in Edinburgh, a metal cube that the viewer literally steps into.
Murray Grigor, a winner in 2006, is due to start making his film about the ruin of the Cardross Seminary building in April.
The awards aim to provide established artists with the chance to pursue a major project, and several said yesterday how glad they were to get the artistic freedom. The SAC chairman, Richard Holloway, called them "an important element in the adventurous development of Scotland".
• At the awards dinner, the culture minister, Patricia Ferguson, confirmed reports that Scotland's Makar, the poet Edwin Morgan, will be the founding member of a new "cultural academy".
The author JK Rowling could also be invited to be a member, it was reported.
The academy, which has been modelled on similar institutions in France and other countries, will honour those who have made a "significant contribution to their art form and to Scotland".
The Ten are:
Ross Sinclair, Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire
Project: An installation artist and painter, Sinclair aims to research a top ten from 300 years of popular music. In art and music, his portraits will capture pop idols and their impact on Scottish culture, from Robert Burns to the Bay City Rollers and the "very miserable" Arab Strap.
Tom Pow, Dumfries
Project: In poems and prose, Pow will explore the "dying villages" of Europe. "In Spain, Italy and Russia, they estimate two villages die a day," says the author and Glasgow University lecturer. He aims to chart the impact of Europe's rapidly declining population on manicured, cultivated rural landscapes.
May Miles Thomas, Edinburgh
Project: The film-maker aims to explore Glasgow's "secret geometry", retracing ancient paths across the city, for a website called The Devil's Plantation. It will explore Iron Age remains under Glasgow and the myth that the city is laid out in geometric form, with 38 tracks that cross the site of Glasgow Cathedral.
John Maxwell Geddes, Glasgow
Project: The composer will workshop with teenage musicians on compositions performed with the help of the Paragon Ensemble. "With their young heads and my old head, we should make some music," said Geddes, 65, the writer of three symphonies.
Kenny Hunter, Glasgow
Project: To produce a large sculptural work, in cast iron, examining the monster within the Scottish psyche. The sculptor is aiming for a remote Highland location and hopes for extra funding on top of the 30,000 to meet metal foundry fees.
Jonathan Falla, Cupar, Fife
Project: To write Wooden Baby, a novel about war and the healing power of civilisation, as witnessed by the French Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne. In 1571, Montaigne retired to a tower to work on his essays, first published in 1580. Falla, a Jamaican-born disaster relief worker, has written two novels.
Linda Cracknell, Aberfeldy
Project: The short-story writer will switch to non-fiction with a book of essays on journeys, from an old servants' track to a laundry on Rum to carved walkways called mozarabic trails in Spain. Other walks around her Perthshire home will range from a drove road to a climb up Schiehallion, a local landmark.
Henry Coombes, Glasgow
Project: To develop a film production, Little Dog Boy, around the nervous breakdown suffered by the artist Edwin Landseer, famously recruited by Queen Victoria to paint the Scottish Highlands. A short film, Coleus in Clay, will tell how Landseer used a live lion for his sculptures in Trafalgar Square.
Simon Yuill, Glasgow
Project: The "new media" artist, who works in software art and open access computers, plans a "social artwork" by linking Highland communities. He will travel between them, setting up an impromptu exhibition that draws in historical and community material. The result will appear at www.stackwalker.com.
Peter Arnott, Glasgow
Project: A trilogy of plays about how we can live while we're waiting for the end of the world. Arnott, whose play Cyprus tours Scotland this year, said the award would free him to write a project three years in the making. The work will reflect the growing realisation that our civilisation is as mortal as humans.
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