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Writer's Centenary fund sparks imaginative new ideas

Published: 22 Jan 2018

The 12 recipients of the new Muriel Spark 100 Fund: Endless Different Ways Small Grants Fund are announced today by Creative Scotland, as part of the centenary celebrations for one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers. The fund is providing awards of up to £1,500 to individual writers, artists and groups looking to celebrate the work, contribution or legacy of Dame Muriel Spark, with £16,000 awarded overall.

The successful applicants are:

  • Jessica Danz
  • Janice Galloway
  • Belle Jones and Beldina Odenyo
  • Raymond MacDonald
  • Theresa Muñoz
  • Tracey S. Rosenberg
  • Kristian Smith
  • StAnza Scotland's Poetry Festival
  • Shane Strachan
  • Tidy Carnage
  • Hannah Van Hove
  • Morna Young

The awarded funds are being used to create new work exploring different aspects of Muriel’s life, travel and/or residencies linked to places or ideas which were significant to Muriel, or the development of other ideas inspired by Muriel and which emerged from the artistic and creative community in Scotland. 

The successful applicants have approached this challenge with creativity, passion and insight, often engaging with diverse elements of Spark’s life or work, including famous novels such as The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieThe Public Image and The Mandelbaum Gate, her influence as an experimental writer, poet and essayist and also her life experiences, identity, legacy and travels. The creative practices of the successful applicants run across literature, theatre, music and visual arts.

The range and breadth of projects we’ve been able to support through this versatile fund is terrific and the murielspark100 program will be enhanced immeasurably by the new work- Jenny Niven, Creative Scotland

Raymond MacDonald is a creative musician, improvisor, composer and psychologist - what better combination to engage with the work of the innovative Muriel Spark? MacDonald will write a suite of music to be performed by some of Scotland's leading folk, jazz and classical musicians.

Janice Galloway will create four different shows relating to Muriel Spark's life and work - presenting her voice, her travel and wider experiences - to be performed across Scotland and beyond. 

Theatre company Tidy Carnage will ask the question What Would Muriel Do? This irreverent one woman show will be developed by the company and based around a therapy/advice session from Spark herself. 

Actor Belle Jones and musician Beldina Odenyo will fuse spoken word and music to craft a response to Muriel Spark's short story The Go Away Bird - featuring issues as relevant to women today as its setting a century ago. 

The musician Jessica Danz will arrange the poetry of Muriel Spark into a song cycle built around the centrepiece of the human voice, to be premiered during the Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan 2018 at An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway in October 2018.

Italy became a home for Muriel Spark, where the artist Kristian Smith will undertake a residency to create photographic work connected to place and incorporating themes from Spark's life, to be presented in a public exhibition in Scotland. 

Reflecting Spark's work as a poet as well as novelist, StAnza International Poetry Festival, 7-11 March 2018, will celebrate this by taking quotes from the introductions to Spark's 22 reissued titles, asking respected poets to respond and then presenting these works to festival audiences.

Writer, poet and researcher Hannah Van Hove plans to celebrate the experimental elements of Spark's work by writing an experimental essay where memoir is interspersed with an imaginary conversation between Spark and fellow writers Christine Brooke-Rose, Ann Quin and Anna Kavan.

The Aberdeenshire writer Shane Strachan will explore Spark's time in Bulawyo, Zimbabwe, with three new short stories. He will draw on the extensive Spark archives and also his own experiences visiting Bulawayo, Aberdeen's only non-European twin city.  The short stories will be published by Zimbabwean publisher amaBooks and a public reading will be performed, followed by a discussion, at the Suttie Arts Space in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in conjunction with Grampian Hospital Arts Trust in Autumn 2018.

In a centenary year that looks to cement Spark's legacy, the poet Theresa Muñoz will explore the relationship between author, archive and legacy by responding to the Spark archive with a new poetry sequence, to be published and performed. 

Author Tracey S. Rosenberg will engage with Spark's Jewish identity by visiting Jerusalem to write in situ, responding to Spark's 1965 novel The Mandelbaum Gate with a short literary work. 

Morna Young has been inspired by two works of Muriel Spark - her novel The Public Image and essay My Rome. Using sites from the essay, Young will write in situ exploring themes of identity and image that are central to the novel. Young plans to use this writing as the foundation for a contemporary stage play.

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “We have been absolutely thrilled by the imagination, thoughtfulness and originality with which writers, artists, musicians and performers across the country have responded to this opportunity to explore what Muriel Spark’s work means to them in a contemporary context. The range and breadth of projects we’ve been able to support through this versatile fund is terrific and the murielspark100 program will be enhanced immeasurably by the new work. It is enormously important to us that the centenary program is forward looking as well as engaged in Muriel’s legacy and these projects do just that by giving rise to brand new and completely original work.”  

About Muriel Spark 100

Muriel Spark 100 is a year-long, nationwide programme of literary and cultural events and activities marking the centenary of one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers, Dame Muriel Spark. Keep up to date at murielspark100.com @MurielSpark100 #murielspark100.