14 projects of ‘Year of Natural Scotland’ named

FOURTEEN projects will share more than half a million pounds worth of funding for arts and culture initiatives during the “Year of Natural Scotland” campaign.

FOURTEEN projects will share more than half a million pounds worth of funding for arts and culture initiatives during the “Year of Natural Scotland” campaign.

Light shows, dance productions, visual art installations, musical pieces, and new festivals will all be developed over the next 12 months.

Towns, cities, coastal villages, gardens, woodland areas and remote islands will take centre stage as part of the initiative, being jointly funded by two public agencies leading the campaign - Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

A new artists’ bothy in the Highlands, a celebration atop a hill in Aberdeenshire, dance performances in “eco dome tents” on a nature reserve in Fife, and new poems inspired by Scotland’s botanic gardens are among the winning projects.

Other parts of Scotland inspiring projects including the vast peatlands on the isle of Lewis, tiny islands around Loch Lomond, and fishing waters surrounding Fair Isle, in Shetland.

Among the organisations involved will be the Scottish Poetry Library, environmental arts body NVA, who staged last year’s spectacular “Speed of Light” show on Arthur’s Seat, the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, and Forestry Commission Scotland. The Year of Natural Scotland is a Scottish Government-inspired initiative, worth £5.4 million to date, to raise awareness and attract visitors to some of the country’s most spectacular locations, and unspoilt wilderness areas.


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Iain Munro, director of creative development at Creative Scotland, said: “Scotland is renowned for its breath-taking scenery, unique natural heritage, and world class arts.

“The Year of Natural Scotland programme is an opportunity for the creative and environmental sectors to inspire each other and develop new partnerships.”

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This funding means people in Scotland and our visitors will be given the opportunity to engage with their natural surroundings in innovative and exciting ways and to discover or rediscover the natural brilliance that exists throughout our country.”

Both Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are ploughing £1 million into the Year of Natural Scotland drive, with VisitScotland making up the remainder of the funding.

An open fund for arts projects was created last year, with priority given to projects based in or near recognised nature reserves, parks, trails or other beauty spots. Bids had to be lodged by November.

NVA will be working with the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park on a project that will transform the islands in the southern reaches of Loch Lomond using “bespoke lighting technologies.”


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Angus Farquhar, creative director at NVA, said: “The 16 islands in the southern waters of Loch Lomond have long held a fascination for many people, those both living in and passing through the area. Island Drift affords us the opportunity to communicate that relationship to the wider world.”

Sexy Peat will see a visual art exhibition celebrating the blanket bog of the Isle of Lewis and its links to Gaelic heritage and culture.

Alison McMenemy, director of the Highland Print Studio, which is working on the project, said: “The Lewis peatland is a big player in climate regulation that has never received the press awarded to its sexy tropical peers.

“We’re delighted to get the opportunity to bring artists and scientists together to celebrate this remarkable and haunting landscape.”

A TV advert for the Year of Natural Scotland campaign - revealed earlier this month - features gannets on Ailsa Craig, off the Ayrshire coast, red deer on the Isle of Rum, white water rafting in Perthshire and mountain biking in Torridon, in the Highlands.

VisitScotland hopes it will generate an extra £68 million for the economy.


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1. Sense Scotland who work with children and adults with complex communication support needs and multi-sensory impairments, will take three groups into remote areas near Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow where they will work with artists to create sensory artworks based on their experiences of the landscape, that map out the area. (Award: £26,800)

2. Walking With Poets is a Scottish Poetry Library, Royal Botanic Garden andCove Park residency project in which four poets will take up month-long writing and walking residency at all four of Scotland’s Botanic Gardens in Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Benmore in Argyll, Dawyck in the Borders, Logan in Dumfries & Galloway and Cove Park. (Award: £24,000)

3. NVA are working with the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to launchIsland Drift, a public art work that will transform the islands in the southern reaches of Loch Lomond using bespoke lighting technologies to create a compelling series of photographic works. (Award: £46,900)

4. The Sound [email protected] Lochs project will work with residents around the proposedSeven Lochs Wetland Park, a planned new wetland park spanning the Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire boundary between Easterhouse and Coatbridge, to create and present new music pieces and soundscapes inspired by the heritage and natural heritage of the area. This project is led by Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership Sound. (Award: £23,000)

5. Wide Open in partnership with Crichton Carbon Centre, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland will be working with Spring Fling and The Stove to present an International Environmental Arts Festival featuring commissions, talks, debates, workshops and events based on the themes of land and energy and centred around two international commissions in the east and west of the local area. (Award: £25,000)


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6. North Light Arts Journeys: Walking a Line is a year-long creative project centred on the traditional east coast fishing town of Dunbar. It will evolve over the seasons, inviting artists to work within the landscape and to develop the theme of journeys with inventiveness and sensitivity to the nature and potential of our landscape and to environmental sustainability, encouraging creative participation within this rich, beautiful and diverse landscape, still largely unknown as the environment that inspired the great conservationist John Muir. (Award: £49,900)

7. Smallpetitklein Dance Company in partnership with Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and Forestry Commission Scotland will deliver an outdoor event with professional and non-professional dancers exploring the history, fauna and flora and a scavenger hunt around Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, culminating in a spectacle performance in a series of Super Eco Dome tents. (Award: £42,000)

8. Tabula Rasa in partnership with The Tweed Forum and Southern Uplands Partnership will deliver a project that curates the spaces and activities around Scotland’s iconic river tweed. Riverside meetings of artists, environmentalists and people working the river will bring focus to hidden elements inspiring a new body of artistic work in the region. (Award: £37,100)

9. Artist, composer and television director Chris Dooks, in a project entitledTiny Geographies, will explore areas of North East, telling their stories through different art forms. Scotland’s leading contemporary fiddle players Paul Andersonand Aidan O’Rourke will compose new pieces in response to natural environments around Aberdeenshire. Working with the community on both elements the project will result in a week-long festival at Woodend Barn and other venues across Deeside. (Award: £33,700)

10. Natural Bennachie will see three artists collaborating with partners and the local community to explore the natural heritage of the most prominent landmark in the North East of Scotland. The project will culminate in an eco-friendly public celebration, site-specific artworks and art-science collaborations. (Award £40,000). This Project is led by Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

11. My Place in the Natural World aims to empower young people from Aberdeen to develop new creative digital media to celebrate and share the outstanding beauty of four Country Parks in the North-East of Scotland. This project is led by the Reading Bus, Aberdeen City Council. (Award £42,000)


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12. Highland Print Studio will work in partnership with Cape Farewell to deliver an exhibition of contemporary visual art called Sexy Peat, celebrating the ecology and heritage of the Lewis blanket bog and highlighting the significant role that peat plays in global climate regulation. The project will also celebrate the Gaelic heritage relating to the bog and the significance of the bog to the people who have lived with it. (Award: £45,200)

13. Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative who seek to ensure the waters surrounding the isle are used sustainably will work with composers, Inge Thomson and Lise Sinclair, to create Da Fishing Hands, a project featuring music and song inspired by documentation about Fair Isle’s fishing grounds and their changing use since 1900. (Award:£16,000)

14. Sweeny’s Bothy / Bothan Shuibhne, proposed by The Bothy Project (Bobby Niven and Iain MacLeod) in collaboration with Alec Finlay, is an artist-designed retreat for artists, writers, and the public. A programmed series of events, walks, and residencies, reflecting on wild nature and contemporary culture, broadcast via an ambitious multimedia website. (Award:£46,500)