Scot:Lands’ invitation to a New Year’s Day with a difference will take you who knows where?
Scot:Lands is only a couple of years old but already feels like a much-loved alternative Edinburgh New Year’s Day tradition for those who are not loony enough to dook, don’t fancy scaling Arthur’s Seat after a Hogmanay skinful but are looking to get out of the house and greet the new year.
The idea, as ever, is to create an ambitious magical mystery trail round the centre of Edinburgh, with attendees sent off to secret locations at the spin of a compass to find the city’s venues transformed into various Lands by arts organisations from all over Scotland. Here are music, art, performance and film, all delivered at a calming pace in mercifully low lighting.
We spoke to the curators of six of this year’s Lands to preview their plans.
RALLY & BROAD present Coorie-in:Land
Jenny Lindsay (Rally): We’ve got quite an elaborate plan for our Land, like a very high end Rally & Broad cabaret looking at themes of home and snuggliness and being comfy on 1 January.
We’ve got three spoken word acts – Calum Rodger, Colin McGuire and Rachel Amey – doing really short sets on location throughout the whole day. We’ve got really good musicians as well – A New International doing an acoustic set, Hailey Beavis, Billy Liar and Maud the Moth from Barcelona.
We’ve also got a couple of performance artists who are going to be doing some things in the queue and in the audience that I won’t reveal too much about, but anyone coming along to Coorie-In:Land will get a comfy, entertaining, artistic, collaborative show with lots of different art forms, and two women compering in matching pyjamas.
Rachel McCrum (Broad): I think we should get matching slippers as well as pyjamas. We could do it in our curlers.
VIC GALLOWAY presents Lyrical:Land
VIC GALLOWAY: I’ve got my dream line-up doing a combination of music and readings. Supermoon was formerly known as Meursault, a brilliant songwriter and performer. Roddy Woomble, frontman of Idlewild, is no stranger to music fans in Scotland. He’ll have played the Ross Bandstand the night before with the band but this will be him in solo, acoustic guise. Kathryn Joseph, SAY Award winner, always travels with her trusty piano. C Duncan’s album Architect is a phenomenal piece of work – unbelievable that he made it in his bedroom. And Michael Pederson from Neu! Reekie is a force of nature, a great performer as well as a great poet.
I went to Scot:Lands this year and it was a really lovely, soothing and perfect way to shake off the cobwebs and ease yourself into the new year. If anyone’s feeling “this isn’t for me because it will be for the young and hip and cool”, have no fear, go out and mix with everyone, because there will be people from their teens to their 60s and 70s and everything in between. Start early, if you can get out your scratcher, and have a real tour of the different Lands. And as it finishes at 5pm, buy me a pint, that’s the next rule.
AN LANNTAIR presents Sea Bird:Land
Roddy Murray (Head of Visual Arts & Literature): The presentation can be traced back to the whole Generation art extravaganza that took place in 2014. We commissioned a new installation by artists Dalziel + Scullion (above) called Tumadh, which means Immersion. It was quite complex, involving 18 video screens from different angles with close-ups of seabirds during breeding season and a soundtrack by fiddler Aidan O’Rourke based on the clamour of the seabirds in the summer.
So when we were approached to do Scot:Lands, it was quite difficult to imagine how we could transpose anything like that complexity for a day. We’ve reconfigured it so that it’s an edited single projection with additional footage taken from St Kilda. So it represents the poles of the year and also the poles of Scotland from the North Sea to St Kilda.
We’re very excited about the venue – there’s a lot of possibilities for atmosphere and a different kind of immersion, with candles and so forth. It’s a great opportunity for us to do it like this, and to premiere the soundtrack with Aidan and his trio performing live.
ATLAS ARTS presents Blue Skye:Land
Emma Nicolson (director): We’re very excited to present work that’s been created in Skye, including a collaboration between singer Anne Martin and Manchester beatboxer Jason Singh, exploring the connections between traditional Gaelic song and Indian raga music. The theme was looking at the migration of people here on Skye during the Clearances and looking at Jason’s ancestry which relates to partition in India.
We’ve also got new work from John Wallace, a piece for clarinet which he’s created for the Quiraing, an amazing landform here on Skye, and two other performers who are Skye-based – Hector MacInnes and Leighton Jones – who have been funded to develop new work on this theme of separation and migration. It’s very topical, about the movement of people.
CURIOUS SEED presents D’Arc:Land
Christine Devaney (dancer/director): We did a five-hour event during the Fringe called Joan of Arc 603 – myself, visual artist Yvonne Buskie and musician Luke Sutherland. We did it as a one-off, but the response was amazing, so we knew something special was cooking.
This will be a different version, because a lot of it was improvised. It was about Joan of Arc’s story as inspiration, her tenacity and completely staying with something. We started looking at the New Year and what is it to look inwards and forwards and outwards at the same time. This sense of time passing and things being swept away and starting again. We get our houses ready, we prepare and we clean.
It will be like a party almost, a gentle party, quite meditative, and like any good party, whoever comes to the party also helps make it. It’s an invitation without being explicit – people can make choices as the audience, as guests, as witnesses to be close and take part. People might dance, people might write.
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL presents Cine:Land
For those who want to lie down in a darkened room Neil Fox (projects manager, EIFF): For us it’s the opening act of our 70th edition celebration. We’re one of the first festivals in the world to make it to that age and the only one to have done 70 years straight.
We thought, “Why not look back at the different things the Festival’s done?” We wanted to show off Scottish filmmaking, so we have created two programmes of Scottish short films, one live action fiction and one short animation, of stuff that’s easier to digest than the hard-hitting kitchen sink dramas we’re better known for.
We’ll have a couple of old projectors projecting actual film, sharing how far we’ve come since 1947, and we’re going to show snippets of Edinburgh from the Scottish Screen Archive.
We hope there is going to be a wee bit of red carpet when people arrive and that we can get some popcorn in there. It’s quite a large space with lots of different rooms for folks to explore so they’ll need snacks to keep them going. There will definitely be comfy spaces to curl up and watch films for an hour if that’s going to help get over the festivities of the night before.
• Scot:Lands is free but ticketed, with a final batch to be allocated today. Register at edinburghshogmanay.com/events/scot-lands