Bright sparks bring the best of Scotland's art to life

SOME of Scotland's best-known artists, writers and performers are to join forces for the first time on projects which have won a share of £500,000 in public funding.

• Clockwise from Left:Visual artist Christine Borland,Visual artist and musician, Raydale Dower, Actress and singer Cora Bisset, Mark Daniels of New Media Scotland, Venu Dhupa from Creative Scotland, performance artist Laura Cameron Lewis Scotsman arts editor Andrew Eaton Anita Clark of Creative Scotland, Ryan Van Winkle, Scottish Poetry Library, Jean Cameron, Producer, Glasgow International festival of Visual Arts, Ziggy Campbell of Edinburgh band Found, Tommy Perman of Found and Professor Simon Kirkby. Pic Ian Rutherford

Playwright David Greig, actress and musician Cora Bisset, singer-songwriter Aidan Moffat, musician and artist Bill Drummond, cinematographer Michael McDonough and visual artist Christine Borland are among those taking part in projects which could take around two years to deliver.

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Grants of up to 100,000 have been awarded to eight separate projects, some of which will travel the world, under a 5 million "innovation fund" set up last year by the Scottish Government and overseen by arts agency Creative Scotland.

Among the projects funded as part of the new Vital Spark scheme last year were a play exploring "the art of wrestling", the creation of a stargazing refuge inside a bothy in the Galloway Forest, and the setting up of a "poetic atlas" of Scotland.

They range from new dance works inspired by some of Alfred Hitchcock's best-known films, a live performance featuring medical mannequins, a documentary made entirely from material found on social networking sites and sound installations based on a series of new short stories.

Scottish poets, musicians and film-makers will work with artists in Syria and Lebanon, as part of the biggest cultural exchange between the countries, with special performances to be held in all three locations.

Musicians and playwrights will work together to create an album of new material - ten-minutes' "stories of the night", inspired by Scotland after midnight.

Cora Bisset, the Fife-born actress, playwright and musician who had a huge hit with Roadkill during last year's Fringe, will join forces with fellow writer David Greig and Edinburgh-based "electropop" band Swimmer One on this project.

Ms Bisset said: "The idea is that we match ten bands or solo artists with ten playwrights. We don't have any on board at all at the moment so we think it's going to take around a year to bring it all together and the idea is that it will culminate in a big live show at the Arches in Glasgow, and the recording of a whole album."

Raydale Dower, an artist and musician who will stage a series of new sound sculpture performances at Glasgow's Tramway Theatre and other off-site locations around the city, said: "The Vital Spark award is brilliant news. It gives me a chance to work with industry partners, exploring state-of-the-art audio technology and facilities. The award also provides the financial stability that allows me a freedom to experiment with my ideas."

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Ziggy Campbell, a founder member of the Found arts collective, who will be working with singer-songwriter Aidan Moffat, the former frontman of indie band Arab Strap, said: "The Vital Spark award is rare in that, not only has it encouraged us to seek out a brand new collaborator, it is also substantial enough to allow us the time and space necessary to realise our most ambitious idea to date.

"I'm looking forward to the chance to create a completely new and unique work with Aidan Moffat. He will be writing around 20 new short stories which will be realised into sound installations to create a new non-linear form of storytelling."

Among the organisations who will be working on the various projects will be the NHS, Edinburgh University's languages department, the Scottish Poetry Library, London's Southbank Centre and Glasgow School of Art's digital design studio.Culture minister Fiona Hyslop added: "The Vital Spark awards celebrate two of Scotland's great strengths - innovation and creativity. The winning projects, with their collaborative approach, are sure to inspire and provoke thought and at the same time enhance our nation's global reputation for creative excellence."

Venu Dhupa, director of creative development at the arts agency, said: "The Vital Spark awards are a unique opportunity for artists to forge new partnerships and experiment with professionals in other sectors.

"Intriguing mixtures of language evolution and music, film and promenade theatre or public sound performances will stretch creative practice and lead to ambitious new work."

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