Into a new year

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I spent Hogmanay afternoon walking through the city centre, feeling unutterably scunnered with Edinburgh. The city turns into a theme park at this time of year, with large sections barricaded off and constant disruption for anyone just trying to get from A to B. Needless to say, the festive cheer I was clinging onto from Christmas had long gone.

So I went home. The hours passed, some fireworks went off. Wine was drank, sleep was had, the calendar changed. By contrast, the following day, lots of venues across the Old Town were transformed into tasters of places beyond the city limits. Music, video, dance and participation in islands, rural communities and places elsewhere. This is precisely what I needed this New Year; to think of being anywhere else. That this was delivered so nicely to me, and the thousands others in attendence, through beautiful venues in the heart of Edinburgh is suitably ironic. I wished only to escape but ultimately the best of other places was brought to me through this frustrating but peerless city.

My favourite event of the day came from Sea Bird:Land, hosted by An Lanntair in Stornoway. Turas is Tumadh; sounds of the sea, coast, boats with a video projection and live score by Aidan O’Rourke and pals.

Some links for anyone interested:

Full info on the Scot:Lands event here.

A review by Sarah Laurenson of the Tumadh : Immersion exhibition held in 2014.

Bliadhna mhath ùr – happy new year – to one and all.

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Cianalas

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Being back in the city grind and with a few weeks of no escape, I can’t help but think of the landscape and open stretches of the Highlands and Islands. The word cianalas about sums up how I’m feeling at the moment. A combination of homesickness, melancholy, and general longing for a place or, as in my case just now, places and culture. Day-to-day life in Edinburgh doesn’t afford me the opportunity to be as immediately absorbed in Gaelic culture and heritage as I was in the islands so I need to be making more of an effort. It seems fitting that on a dreich day in the city the only word that sums up how I’m feeling is a Gaelic one.

Cianalas – kʲiənəLəs – ke-en-alas.

Photos from misc. places in Uist, about this time last year.

Elsewhere, mostly unrelated:

Edinburgh Yarn Festival is coming up; I’m really looking forward to it.
The Danish Diaspora exhibition in Haddington looks very much worth a visit (Nikolai and Beka Globe’s Mission House Studio in Harris is wonderful).
Ernest journal is a relatively new find for me but I’m enjoying it very much.

Still Looking West

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The last photo in my last post was also my last photo in the year-long project Looking East, Looking West. My good friend Rebecca and I worked on weekly diptychs from our respective sides of the Atlantic throughout 2014. This morning I took some time to look back through our posts and have chosen some of my favourites to share again here. These posts remind me of good days, bad days, difficult days, happy days… 2014 was a strange year in many ways. Here’s to 2015.LELW2 LELW3 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA LELW8 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA LELW10 LELW11 LELW12 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heartening

Two things today.

Firstly: Living alone in what is still a new place, surrounded by beautiful scenery but few very close friends, it is easy to feel isolated. During times of heightened stress and tension this is exacerbated further. When a loved one has been visiting and departs the same day various stresses hit crisis-point then, well, that’s not a good combination at all. It has not been an easy short while. Just as well then that I am so fortunate as to have people in my life, albeit at a great distance, who through small gestures help ease the worries, whether they realise it or not.

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Coming home to this book in the post, a gift promoted by an earlier blog post, was an unexpected treat and just at the right time. And now I’ve no excuse not to up my tree-knowledge.

Secondly: reading through the transcript of Fiona Hyslop’s keynote speech,Past, Present & Future: Culture & Heritage in an Independent Scotland” at the Talbot Rich gallery in Edinburgh was incredibly heartening. I am neither party-political nor decided upon how I’ll vote in the independence referendum next year. Hyslop’s speech, however, I found to be an honest, positive and, ultimately exciting account of the role culture and heritage plays in Scotland just now. The prospects for the future is anyone’s guess but being employed in the cultural-heritage field I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the statements made. Not often I agree so wholeheartedly with a politician!

…the culture and heritage sectors make an invaluable contribution to our economic life, but despite these challenging times, we do not measure the worth of culture and heritage solely in pounds and pence – we value culture and heritage precisely because they are so much more, because they are our heart, our soul, our essence.