Finally, I have time to sit and write about the amazing Cuimhne (Memory) event over the 23rd, 24th and 25th April – the exhibition continues at An Lanntair until 26th May. Take a look at social media for #Cuimhne for more accounts and images.
I will break it down into the areas where each part was held, as the event, looking back, was so extraordinary, I don’t think An Lanntair has ever seen anything like it (or ‘ambitious’, as our CEO Elly Fletcher called it :-).
Enormous thanks to our wonderful volunteer Maria, who manned Registration for hours, with the most beautiful welcoming smile.
Enormous thanks, also, to the incredible An Lanntair team, especially Christine, who stepped in to support late in the day and for everything that everyone did to create a delicious, engaging, visually captivating, inspirational event. I could list a million tasks which were undertaken to the highest level of dedication such as gallery hanging, food design, preparation and hosting but all of you were fantastic, so I’ll avoid that.
Thanks in abundance go to our entire community, who enabled this to happen. Your generosity of spirit and time and your eagerness to engage with us made all of this come together. You have been leading this project and we thank you enormously for the direction that you took with it.
In the Gallery:
The #sonicflock from Lucy Robertson flew in here just before opening day, with Lucy Robertson launching them during the two day event (photos Mhairi Law, films Paula Brown). Lucy also spoke in the Auditorium about her PhD project, to support communication through textiles and in particular with sound.
There were many workshops from Caroline Dear, Dawn Susan, I definitely saw Stephanie Bunn making a marram horse collar, and a live waulking songs performance from Laxdale Choir.
The museum exhibits were outstanding – in particular, a puffin snare from St Kilda from the Highland Folk Museum, which inspired a new ensnare and enfold memory snare from Caroline Dear, a public art piece which was completed during the event.
The gallery was filled with commissioned pieces from our contracted Artists Margaret Joan MacIsaac, Gina MacDonald, Kate Macdonald and there were films from Kate’s Uist work relating to Gaelic toy making and Uist Quadrilles.
One wall was filled with the international photography project ‘Eyes as big as Plates’, which will form part of our project work in 18/19.
Level 3 walkway:
Academic posters were on display here, with the poster presenters on hand to answer questions about their work. Harris Oral History Project from north Harris Trust featured a new memory box of their work (in collaboration with ourselves), a film and a display of some of their work. Our other memory boxes (available to book for free through the library service) were on display here. Our Jack & John series of podcasts was also displayed as a film on this level. Check them out on our Soundcloud.
Community Room and out on the forecourt:
This room was host to Maggie Smith’s Gaelic working songs workshop until the beautiful weather took everyone outside to sing. It also hosted Kate’s Gaelic toy making workshop.
In the Harbour Room Restaurant:
Lunches – we enjoyed home made soup, wonderful bread and meat/cheese platters on both days.
The conference dinner on Monday 23rd April was a wonderfully sociable affair, with people from all walks of life gathering and there was even a birthday celebration.
50 of us gathered and dined on An Lanntair’s own vegetarian haggis or local roast beef with an abundance of veg and some whisky sauce. The dessert was Kenny’s own carrageen pudding with rhubarb soup, which surprised everyone with it’s deliciousness and texture. Check out the wobble!
Island Food Tasting:
Cllr Alasdair Macleod led a wonderful food event, which featured Guga from Iain (from Ness), Maggie’s Crowdie, herring, oatcakes and kippers, Alasdair’s Mother in law’s duff, scones and we made some butter together, illustrating how hard the churning is on the arms. Stepping Stones Restaurant sent some carrageen pudding to try and some fresh carrageen to handle.
In the Auditorium:
Nancy Macadam BEM opened the conference along with Cathy Parkin on Monday, assisted by Maggie Smith with a Gaelic welcome.
On the Tuesday, we were welcomed by Agnes Houston MBE.
Rhoda Macdonald supported the entire event with her MC skills, ensuring the event flowed around the building, weaving around the talks and films.
We heard from many speakers, Caithlin Macaulay from the School for Scottish Studies, showcasing the voice of islanders. Our Keynote Speaker was Tim Ingold on ‘The Sustainability of Everything’. Dr Stephanie Bunn, Dawn Susan and Caroline Dear spoke about Woven Communities. We screened the film The Mystery of Angus MacPhee. We also screened Aldona Watts’ film Land of Song, with her Directors’ Talk, and offered live traditional music from local musicians. The DEEP group spoke with Paul Thomas and Philly Hare, and showcased Dementia Diaries as well as the work of DEEP. We did some live video of this very personal and insightful section, as it was the words of people living with dementia, who had travelled great distances to come and speak with us.
Our funders Life Changes Trust and BIG Lottery Scotland in the shape of Anna Buchanan and Lesley Galbraith came along and spoke kindly about us and about how we fit into their work.
In the Education Room:
Chris Hammacott taught everyone how to spin with her home grown fleeces on a spinning wheel and a drop spindle. Gill Thompson shared her techniques on collograph printmaking here too.
In the Green Room:
The Scottish DEEP group held their Spring Gathering.
Our delegate bags were designed and printed by Gill Thompson (individual works of art, each one!) and were filled with postcards of island foods from the valued knowledge of our community and with the gorgeous book from Maggie Smith and the community Toil Inntinn (The Will of the Mind).
In the Bar
The bar area showcased our DEEP Hills of Home project with the image from Blar Buidhe and Norman Mackay/Jon Macleod. Gill Thompson’s prints were there too, which we made in collaboration with people staying on Clisham Ward. The bar television screen showcased a reel of images from the past three years of dementia friendly community project work.
The words of people from our community were on the walls in the gallery, on the stairwells, in the bar, everywhere.
Dementia Diaries had a bit of an upload frenzy with so many enthusiastic delegates diarising about their experiences. Here is one from Nancy Macadam:
And one from Agnes Houston:
Scalpay Community Hall and a road trip:
To finish the event, on the Wednesday, we offered a trip by mini bus for the DEEP group delegates to see Callanish Stones and the Visitor Centre, Scalpay Community Hall and the Craft Fayre, compete with Scarista Piper and then on to Harris House to meet people there, where Paul Thomas sang for us and I delivered the silk painted cushions back to their thrilled and grateful owners after the exhibition.
Nancy talks about it here: