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New community project will bring arts to remote communities in a horse box (or boat-shed)

Published: 12 Apr 2021

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'The haunting landscapes of Coigach & Assynt have inspired people for generations’. Credit: Chris Puddephat

A community organisation based in the north west of Scotland has been awarded £37,878 by Creative Scotland to deliver an innovative and wide-ranging community-focussed arts project to celebrate the landscapes and culture of Coigach and Assynt.

Called The Coigach & Assynt Collection, the work is being led by the Coigach Community Development Company, as part of a wider project developed within the National Lottery Heritage Funded Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme. The work has also been funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation, KMF Maxwell Stuart Charitable Trust, and supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

The Coigach & Assynt Collection will develop a programme of new and connected works - music, performance and interdisciplinary work – which will be generated through a process of creative collaborations with a high level of community engagement. Sound and visual installations will be set in a series of special sites in the unique landscape of the area. The project will involve:

  • A series of guided walks in small groups with key community members highlighting and animating different aspects (ecology, rare flora, archaeology, food foraging, old-style ceilidhs, and stories from different eras, hearing tales from elder musicians/composers in the communities);
  • Micro-residencies (for musicians) to have concentrated time to be immersed in the places and building connections within communities;
  • Collaborative groupings to create new work;
  • A visual artist-in-residence – digital, film, projection and collaborative experience;
  • Performances in unusual spaces – boat and wood-sheds, horseboxes;
  • Recorded work to be used for installations in the landscape along a series of sites;
  • Hands-on opportunities – workshops, mentoring, training sessions (for community & artists);
  • Gigs recorded and streamed to share with local, national and international audiences.

The main objective of the project is to support new creative collaborations; develop and extend arts audiences, actively engage local communities, and galvanise them into rediscovering their landscape.

One of the project’s coordinators, Susan Christie, said ‘People who live in Assynt and Coigach will engage in a vibrant creative exchange that looks to the future, not just the past. We plan to rethink traditional modes of presenting music and visual art in Coigach and Assynt, moving away from the village hall or local gallery and looking instead to embed the work directly in the landscape. We will challenge what people expect and engage them in the process. ‘

Boyd Alexander, scheme manager for Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) added: ‘The vision of Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape is of thriving communities within a healthy landscape, who work together to celebrate and protect their unique natural, historic and cultural heritage now and for the future. The Music and Tales project, of which the Coigach & Assynt Collection is part, is playing a fantastic part in helping us move towards delivering that vision, and we are very grateful to Creative Scotland for supporting this work so generously.’

CALL is made up of a group of community, charity and private landowners and charities working together to improve both the economic and environmental prospects of this very remote part of Scotland.  Over the past five years it has been delivering a programme of over 30 projects, with Scottish Wildlife Trust as the lead partner, and supported though the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Coigach & Assynt Collection is part of a wider CALL project led by Coigach Community Development Trust called ‘Music & Tales’, which is also in the process of publishing a stunning book of music and stories collected through an oral history project, and working with prominent musicians to record an album-length piece of music inspired by the landscapes and people of the area.

Find out more

Visit the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Website

Follow Coigach & Assynt on Twitter

Follow Coigach & Assynt on Facebook