What's the Game?
What’s the Game? Highland Whispers is based on the old parlour games like Chinese Whispers and Consequences, where inspiration comes from one original theme but where each person responds to only one previous link in the creative chain. Like the games, it’s meant to be playful and prompt a range of responses – funny, serious, quirky, linear, lateral.
As far as creating goes (within a basic framework of theme, timeline and budget) the rules are … there are no rules! In this version of the game, the stimulus for each chain was the personal creative response of one of the five artists to one of the five senses - hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch. Each stimulus was sent to the next artist to create their response - the echo - who then passed their work to another until, over a period of five weeks, a total of 25 pieces of work had been created - five stimuli and 20 echoes.
All 25 artworks are displayed in the galleries of this website accompanied by the artists’ thoughts and musings, sketches and doodles, gathered as they worked and shared with each other as each creative chain developed. We hope there will be opportunities in the not too distant future to view the work in galleries local to the artists involved in the project. In the meantime, there is a virtual gallery for you to ‘wander through’ at your leisure and from the safety and comfort of your own home..
With support from Creative Scotland..Home
Alex Boyd is a landscape and documentary photographer, printmaker and writer. His work is primarily concerned with the Scottish landscape. As a photographer his work examines the role of early Scottish landscape photographers, often using antique processes such as the Victorian 'wet-plate collodion' process using antique cameras in mountain environments. In 2019 he was awarded a Daiwa Foundation Scholarship to work and photograph the mountains of the Japan Alps centred on Mount Yari. He was the Mountain Photographer of the Year at the Kendal Mountain Festival in 2013, the UK's largest mountain festival. His work on the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye as the Royal Scottish Academy's artist in Residence is in several National Collections. His work has been widely exhibited internationally with solo exhibitions at the Scottish Parliament, as well as group exhibitions at the Royal Academy, Royal Ulster Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy. His work is held in the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland, The Royal Photographic Society, the Royal Scottish Academy, the V&A in London and the Yale Centre for British Arts in the USA. His first book St Kilda – The Silent Islands was recently shortlisted for a Saltire Award. His second book The Isle of Rust, a collaboration with writer Jonathan Meades was, like his first book, named as photography book of the year by The Scotsman. He is a Fellow of the National Library of Scotland, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, and the Royal Society of Art. He is currently working on a PhD on Scottish Photography at Northumbria University, a selection of new books on The Faroe Islands, The Outer Hebrides. A collection of his Scottish and Irish collodion work is due out in 2021 as well as a solo exhibition ‘Hesperus’ at Stills, Scotland’s Centre of Photography, in June 2020.
Anna Raven (b 1956) grew up in Cambridge where her father was an academic as well as a keen amateur field botanist and gardener. With long academic holidays she had the opportunity to visit the West Coast of Scotland frequently, and from her father she developed an interest in plants and the call of wild places. Anna studied fine art at Bath Academy of Art (1976-1979) and, since then, has been active as both painter and printmaker. She has spent her life working across a number of disciplines - from gardens to printmaking, ceramics to painting - with much of her work a personal response to the natural world and the relationship between nature and the inner self. She established her first studio in London and then, following a move to Wiltshire, combined painting with running a garden design business and family life. In 2004, Anna moved to the West Coast of Scotland where she developed a new body of work inspired by the dramatic qualities of the Highland landscape and climate and regularly exhibited her work with Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London. Anna has now been based for many years in Lochaber, which has enabled her to engage more deeply with the world of landscape restoration and this is reflected in her creative practice. In partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Anna has also established a creative residency based on the Rahoy Hills Reserve, the most biodiverse of the reserves within the Trust’s portfolio. The residency promotes a collaboration between art and science, with the artists working with the warden to find a visual equivalent for their experience.
Multi - disciplinary Artist
Victoria Caine is a multidisciplinary artist and curator based in Inverness. After studying mathematics both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and working in higher education strategy and planning for many years, Victoria decided to return to her studies and headed north to study art. She received a BA in Fine Art at Moray School of Art, one of Scotland’s five art schools and part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, and then undertook further studies in Contemporary Art and Contextualised Practice. In her current art practice, Victoria works across a number of genres - drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, sound – and combines different elements of each to create abstract installations and sculptures as well as three-dimensional, wall-based works that she describes as ‘paintings made with found objects, textures, light and shadow’. Her work often draws on her mathematical background in that she frequently involves repeated patterns, rhythms, geometries and marks in her artwork, or uses a numerical framework to provide a starting point for the creative journey of experimentation and problem-solving. Victoria also has a background in music and dance and enjoys working across disciplines to create visual responses to the work of poets, musicians and choreographers. Since 2016, Victoria has been the curator and exhibition coordinator at An Talla Solais, a visual arts organisation in Ullapool, Wester Ross. In March 2020, as the country entered a lockdown period and businesses were closed, her role switched rapidly to one of developing online exhibitions to replace the cancelled gallery-based programme. She brings this experience to the Highland Whispers project in her role as co-curator of the online exhibition with Nick Turner. Victoria is also the founder of Caladar Arts studios and project space in Cawdor, Nairnshire, which she shares with three other artists.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Poet and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centres around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. Working fluently on the page and in public, Pádraig is a compelling poet and skilled speaker, teacher and group worker. Pádraig presents Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios and, in late 2019, was named Theologian in Residence for On Being, innovating in bringing art and theology into public and civic life. When BBC journalist William Crawley introduced Pádraig on the stage to deliver a TEDx talk on Story, Crawley said, "He's probably the best public speaker I know." Pádraig’s published work incorporates poetry (Readings from the Book of Exile (longlisted for the Polari Prize 2013); Sorry for your Troubles), prose (In The Shelter) and theology (Daily Prayer, The Place Between). His poems have featured or are forthcoming in the following publications or platforms: Poetry Ireland Review, Academy of American Poets, Raidio Teilifís Éireann’s Poem of the Week, Post Road, Cream City Review, Holden Village Voice, Proximity Magazine, On Being, Dumbo Feather, Gutter, America, and Seminary Ridge Review. From 2014-2019, Pádraig was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community. A profoundly engaging public speaker, he has worked with groups to explore story, conflict, their relationship with religion and argument, and violence. Using poetry, group discussion and lectures, his work is marked both by lyricism and pragmatism, and includes a practice of evoking stories and participation from attendees at his always-popular lectures, retreats and events. Pádraig has been a featured guest on On Being with Krista Tippett twice, and is a regular broadcaster on radio on topics such as Poetry, Religion in the public square, Loneliness, Conflict and Faith, LGBT inclusion, the dangers of so-called Reparative Therapy, and the value of the Arts in public life. He has broadcasted, recited and been interviewed countless times on RTÉ, BBC (Radio 4, Radios Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland) and Radio National (Australia). His work has been used in Medical Journals, quoted by Princes and used in Atlases and Liturgies. Pádraig has told a story for The Moth and has extended interviews with On Being and ABC Spirit of Things. Together with his partner, Paul Doran, he cofounded Tenx9, a storytelling event where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives. Begun in Belfast, this event now has satellite events in many other cities. For Pádraig, religion, conflict, power and poetry all circle around language, that original sacrament. In the context of public theology, he takes the received form of biblical texts and explores the civic and artistic dynamics of language, narrative and impact in these stories. He holds a BA Div validated by the Pontifical College of Maynooth, an MTh from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently engaged in a PhD in Theology through Creative Practice (Uni of Glasgow) exploring poetry, Irishness and religion. In addition to these qualifications, he has numerous professional accreditations in conflict, focusing particularly on dynamics of group conflicts.
Nick Turner has worked in the music industry for over twenty-five years as sound artist, producer, engineer, performer and writer. Nick founded Watercolour Music in Lochaber in 1994, building the business up from a single-room recording studio in a disused hotel function suite to its current position as one of the country’s most sought-after recording locations in purpose-built premises in Ardgour, Lochaber, overlooking Loch Linnhe and Ben Nevis. Nick divides his time between production and recording commissions at Watercolour Music’s studios, and his own creative and writing projects, with a particular passion for song-writing and sound design. He has been in residence as Sound Artist in Association for Aberdeen Performing Arts, documenting and celebrating the refurbishment of the Aberdeen Music Hall; and Artist in Residence at the ØY Festival in Papa Westray, Orkney. He developed ‘The Deep Sea Light’ sound installation project, using submarine recording, convolution reverb and found sound with traditional and contemporary musical composition to reconnect with the underwater marine environment. At Watercolour, he has been responsible for a vast number of recordings across the musical spectrum, from indie, hip hop, pop and rock to classical and folk. As a producer and engineer, he has worked with a wide variety of world-class musicians and producers including Josienne Clarke, Martin Taylor, John Renbourn, Jerry Boys, Shooglenifty, Julie Fowlis, Blazin Fiddles, Treacherous Orchestra, Rachel Sermanni, Fred Morrison and many more. His reputation is founded on a keen ear for detail coupled with an ability to place recorded sound in a natural ambient setting. He has engineered and co-produced many albums and TV series with his partner, Mary Ann Kennedy, including several albums for Gaelic record label Macmeamnma, their own Watercolour label and Greentrax Recordings. These include Cliar (‘All-time Best Album”, Scots Trad Music Awards), Marit and Rona (Celtic Connections Danny Award-winners 2012) and no fewer than six winners of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year. He co-produced the soundtrack to the award-winning BBC series, ‘Aig Cridhe ar Ciùil’ and the boundary-breaking TV series of musical collaborations, ‘A’ Gharaids’ for BBC ALBA. He is a prolific songwriter, collaborating over the years with several singers, including Findlay Napier as Queen Anne’s Revenge. Their songs continue to be showcased in Findlay’s live performances. His interest in sound production and recording has expanded to a long-term exploration of the relationship between the natural world and music composition and performance, from in-situ recordings of pibroch in their places of origin and inspiration, to re-creating the natural soundscape of a frozen Highland landscape within the confines of a Regency library. Previous projects include the recording and production of the soundtrack to the feature-length film version of ‘An Drochaid: The Bridge Rising’ – the first major collaboration between Creative Scotland and MG ALBA. He also oversaw the production of ‘Aiseag’, Watercolour’s commission as part of the Commonwealth Games/ PRSF New Music Biennial 2014 – a collaborative composition between lead artist Mary Ann Kennedy, Canadian composer Scott MacMillan, poet Aonghas MacNeacail and Nick as audio designer. He and Mary Ann continue to work together on projects including the 2016 Blas Festival Commission – Beul na h-Oidhche Gu Camhanaich (Mouth of the Night to First Light), a celebration of the night skies; an artistic residency at Aberdeen Music Hall in 2016/7; and Mary Ann’s solo album projects, ‘An Dàn’ (2017) and ‘Glaschu – Hometown Love Song’ (2019) on the international world music label ARC Music.
Mary Ann Kennedy
Mary Ann Kennedy is Gaelic Singer of the Year 2019 (STMAs) and a Scottish Book Trust/ Comhairle nan Leabhraichean New Writer Awardee 2020. An urban Gael from multi-cultural Glasgow, Mary Ann Kennedy was brought up as part of a revered tradition-bearer family, the Campbells of Greepe (Isle of Skye), and her earliest memories are of a home filled with song. Mary Ann’s traditional roots were paralleled by a classical music training, and she was part of the founding cohort of the UK’s first state-funded music school at Douglas Academy in Glasgow. She graduated in piano from the RSAMD and continued with a Master’s in harp performance at the RNCM, alongside original research into Gaelic mouth music. While in Manchester she joined Yehudi Menhuin’s Live Music Now! scheme as its first non-classical musician, and the scheme’s principles of inclusion and accessibility to the arts remain with her today. A brief diversion running the BBC’s Gaelic news service led to a parallel career as a radio and TV broadcaster, and she is now based in Ardgour, Lochaber where she runs Watercolour Music, a recording studio and creative centre, with husband and fellow musician-producer Nick Turner. A founder member of ‘supergroup’ Cliar, ‘All-time Best Album’ winners at the first Scots Trad Music Awards, she is also twice winner of the Lorient International Harp Competition, double National Mòd gold medallist, and a Saltire Award winner for ground-breaking choral work, ‘Lasair Dhè’. She co-edited a major family compendium, ‘Fonn’ (Melody/Land, Acair Books 2012), awarded Gaelic Book of the Year, and the Arts & Culture prize at the first National Gaelic Awards. Her writing continues with publication of her choral works, ‘Coireal’ in 2020. An inspirational year as musician-in-residence at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye led to the creation of ‘Aiseag’ (Ferryboat) for the first PRSF New Music Biennial at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Other commissions include an original soundtrack for BBC WW1 documentary ‘Càirdean Cogaidh’ (War Comrades); ‘Dusan’ (Dozen) – one of a set of duets with saxophone marking the 200thanniversary of Arnold Sax’s birth; and ‘Aon Teanga’ (One Tongue) - a PRSF Beyond Borders commission celebrating the links between the three Gaelic nations of Scotland, Ireland and Mann. Other significant works include ‘Black Snow’, a site-specific installation for the 11th Antarctic Earth Sciences Symposium in Edinburgh, and an ongoing song writing partnership with poet, Aonghas MacNeacail. 2016 brought a residency in partnership with Nick Turner during the ‘Stepping Out’ phase of Aberdeen Music Hall’s refurbishment, and ‘Beul na h-Oidhche gu Camhanaich’ (Mouth of the Night to First Light), for the 2016 Blas Festival. In 2018, she was commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage/ An Comunn Gàidhealach to create ‘Cluaidh – Ùrachadh na h-Aibhne’ (Clyde – A River Recovery), exploring the human and natural history, environment and culture of the river from city to sea. The commission was extended in 2019/20 to embrace the river’s city of Glasgow and its upper reaches to the source. Mary Ann has an extensive discography as producer and performer, but her international debut solo album was released only in 2017. ‘An Dàn’ (The Song/Destined, ARC Music) is a collection of her original music with lyrics by herself and some of Gaeldom’s greatest poets, including Aonghas MacNeacail and Angus Peter Campbell. Her follow-up album, ‘Glaschu – Hometown Love Song’ was released in April 2019, a love-song to her Glasgow Gàidhealtachd upbringing.