Memory Spinners: Dementia Arts Workshops

Memory Spinners Airdrie Town Hall

Light relief for those living with dementia is on offer at Airdrie Town Hall, with the Scottish Opera and CultureNL Memory Spinners art workshops, running Mondays from 29 January – 23 March (1-3pm).

Using music, movement and visual arts, the free of charge programme helps both people with dementia and their carers relax and form support networks.

Park Springs Care Home employee Rose Brennan said: “Our group – Ronnie, Betty, Margaret and myself – has been attending since the first session and I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed it.

“When the group have been going back to the home they have been telling everyone about it, they get so excited; all their families and friends have heard about it and they all think that it is a wonderful idea.”

The Park Spring group are just three of around twenty six participants coming to the workshops on a regular basis.

CultureNL Arts Development Officer, Deborah McArthur, said: “It’s been really nice to see how large a group we have ended up having, and that shows the need and the want for something like this in North Lanarkshire; we have such a lovely bunch of people involved.”

Each session starts with a half hour lunch, where the group can get to know each other before the activities begin.

McArthur explained: “Having lunch at the beginning means that the group can bring the social aspect back into eating. I am a great believer in food bringing people together and I think that the time at the start, where we all chat, is really important.”

After lunch the group moves on to a warm up, which leads on to singing and acting activities.

McArthur said: “The exercises that we do allow everybody to take part at the same time; when you come to a session you get to see how much everybody laughs and enjoys it.”

Echoing this sentiment was visual artist Joe Gair.

He said: “When I was thinking of how to approach the project I wanted to bring a range of activities; some people enjoy colouring in and painting simple things, other people like to get a bit more creative, so I wanted to provide a bit of variety.”

He added: “The visual art aspect of the project is good, as people know what they are working toward, for example last week we did masks for the final show, and the group took a lot of care and time over them because they knew that they would be wearing them.”

All of the group’s crafted props and drama activities will be brought together at the end of the programme, in a show for their friends and family.

McArthur explained: “The Memory Spinners activities have no wrong answer, people can do whatever they want with the materials that we have. Then we make this fit into the end performance, and this creates a comfortable environment to work in.”

Beechwood Care Home worker, Emma Weir said: “The workshops are something new and something challenging, but they are very enjoyable.”

She added: “I came to bring Tommy and Jeanette, but I have been surprised how much I have enjoyed it myself. You get to meet new people; it welcomes anyone and everyone affected by dementia.”

Reflecting on the workshops, McArthur explained that no previous arts or performance experience is required.

She said: “I think sometimes people might be deterred by the idea of opera, or they might think that if a workshop is singing and dancing then it is not for them, but actually I would describe it as a group of people that are coming together to try different things and have fun.”

2017 Glasgow Theatre Throwbacks

In 2017 I consumed the most theatre, of any 12-month period of my life. Three ballets, three dramas, two pantos and one musical. This is less impressive considering I joined the marketing team of Motherwell Theatre, where assessing the competition is all part of the job. So here’s a look at my rated and slated productions, starting with the best…

Faithful Ruslan

Michael Glenny and Helena Kaut-Howson’s adaptation of Georgi Vladimov’s novel
The Citizen’s Theatre Glasgow

  • Rating: 10/10
  • Story: A Soviet guard dog’s life takes a strange turn when his prison camp is liberated and he is made redundant; a haunting tale of unhealthy love.
  • Best bit: Movement director Marcello Magni’s work with star Hunter Bishop to mimic perfectly a guard dog’s inclinations.
  • Worst bit: The second act, which was slow and left nothing to the imagination.

Blood Brothers

Bill Kenwright Production
The Kings Theatre

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Story: In depression-hit Liverpool, twin brothers are separated at birth, before being tragically reunited in a bittersweet tale of social injustice.
  • Best bit: Willy Russell’s comic writing teamed with Kelvin Towse’s musical direction makes light work a heavy topic.
  • Worst bit: The cast’s accents – particularly when playing children – were grating.

Hansel and Gretel

Scottish Ballet Production
The Theatre Royal Glasgow

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: It’s WWII in the UK and two ration restricted kids seek sweet treats in town, unaware of the dangers; a refreshing retelling of a classic.
  • Best bit: Christopher Hampson’s dapper 1940s costumes and Caroline Palmer’s ballroom inspired choreography.
  • Worst bit: The second act when the WWII theme was abandoned and the set/ costumes reverted to 17C fairy tale.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Rapture Theatre Production
Motherwell Theatre

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: In 1960s America, couple Martha and George verbally spar during after-party drinks with their new colleagues; in this tale of everyday lies.
  • Best bit: Robin Kingsland’s comic timing (as George) enlivens Albee’s deadpan humour.
  • Worst bit: The plot is 90% dialogue, which does make it drag a bit.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Spillers Pantomimes Production
Motherwell Theatre

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: Merryville (17C Scottish pantoland) is plagued by an evil giant so it’s up to Jack and the gang to slay him, in this all singing all dancing panto.
  • Best bit: The vocals and moves from all the cast, particularly Jack (Craig Anthony Ralston) far surpassed other regional pantos.
  • Worst bit: The plot was, at times, over-narrated.

Ghost Dances

Rambert Production
The Theatre Royal Glasgow

  • Rating: 7/10
  • Story: A group of dances on love, life, and death, which climaxes in Ghost Dances – the tale of violence and political oppression in Central America.
  • Best bit: Miguel Altunaga’s dancing was a joy to watch.
  • Worst bit: The random combination of stories, such as a modern retelling of Macbeth, which clashed with the central theme of Ghost Dances.

The Red Shoes

Matthew Bourne Production
The Kings Theatre

  • Rating: 7/10
  • Story: A ballet about a film about a fairy tale; in which a prima ballerina chooses her lover over the musical director who dislikes him; meaning she loses out on great parts, before her redemption is offered to her in the lead part of the Red Shoes film.
  • Best bit: Lez Brotherston’s costume and set design is ingenious, working with stage borders, which spin around to indicate if the theatre audience are seeing the cast acting ‘off stage’, in studio or on the film set.
  • Worst bit: The lack of online synopsis left the audience guessing whether they were booking a ballet based around the film or the fairy tale.

A Christmas Carol

Cumbernauld Theatre Production
Cumbernauld Theatre

  • Rating: 6/10
  • Story: The Dickensian time travel tale is adapted to reflect 21C world crisis, in this touching panto.
  • Best bit: Paper puppetry used to show Scrooge the 21C problems like climate change that lay in the world’s future.
  • Worst bit: The marketing of the panto for children was inconsistent with its adult format (with few songs and jokes).

Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

Play Pie and a Pint Production
Oran Mor Theatre

  • Rating: 5/10
  • Story: Ivan is a Scottish author suffering from writers’ block; unable to think of anything else he retells the story of his mother’s death from cancer, in this one-man play.
  • Best bit: Stephen Clyde provided a heart-warming portrayal of Ivan’s elderly mother, the typical wee Glasgow woman.
  • Worst bit: Ian Pattison’s writing lacked the dark humour that usually lifts such grim topics.

So that’s my year as a theatre goer! How was yours?

Have you seen these productions and heartily agree or think I’ve got it all wrong? Comment below and let me know…

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Want entertainment in its purest form? Look no further than the Scottish Storytelling Centre (SSC) a creative hub off of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. This bespoke building focuses mostly on spoken word performance, stripped of microphones and scripts. Bustling year-round, SSC is particularly busy in festival season.

Marketing and Communications Manager, Lindsay Corr said: “Each summer we become a venue for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and our tagline this year is ‘local talent, international context’. All our shows and performers are based in Scotland, many in Edinburgh, but all deal with international themes.”

These themes include migration, fake news and LGBT rights. SSC has broken ground by breaking down many of these issues for its younger audiences.

Corr explained: “One of our Fringe shows was At A Stretch – a phenomenal mime and movement piece – about two girls who fall in love and don’t really know what is happening. This show is targeted at ages six plus. At A Stretch is a kids friendly LGBT+ show; we think it’s important to cover diverse stories in a way that is accessible to children.”

Making narratives accessible to everyone is something that SSC is passionate about, as Corr said: “People can dip their toe into storytelling at our Café Voices events, which are running during the Fringe. These events are hosted by a storyteller, but are also open floor – meaning the audience doesn’t have to get up and narrate, but they are welcome to.”

This spirit of inclusion runs throughout SSC’s 17 Fringe shows, including Is this a Dagger – Andy Cannon’s historical analysis of Macbeth, (More) Moira Monologues – with Alan Bissett discussing Brexit and Indie Ref 2 from Scotland’s working class woman perspective – and The Loud Poets, who perform poetry for the masses, accompanied by a live band.

“The Loud Poets believe storytelling is for everyone and is something everyone can do – you don’t have to have gone to Oxford University to practice it and it doesn’t have to be pompous,” Corr said.

True to this sentiment, SSC has worked throughout its history with outreach programmes, bringing storytelling to disadvantaged groups.

Corr recalled: “Over the years the Scottish Storytelling Centre has had lots of outreach projects on the go; including Living Voices, which helped older and younger people find common ground amid the digital divide. The project taught older people digital skills and younger people the art of storytelling, to bring their two words together.”

Another project SSC undertook, in partnership with BSL:UPTAKE at Heriot-Watt University was Stories in the Air. In this project SSC worked with BSL interpreters, to boost their narrative skills and make storytelling more inclusive for deaf audiences.

Corr added: “We are also now running a sensory storytelling project for children with additional needs; The Story Kist creates a relaxed space with props that children can touch and smell while experiencing a story, which is run by two highly trained and interactive storytellers.”

A relaxed environment is key to any storytelling and it was this realisation that led to the founding of the SSC building.

Corr said: “The Scottish Storytelling Centre started life as part of an arts centre. Within this centre there was a group of storytellers that had been performing all over the country, but they wanted to have a stand-alone national hub that promoted storytelling, instead of it being an add-on in venues such as theatres.”

So after sourcing £3.5m, recruiting Malcolm Fraser Architects, and undergoing a five- year development, the SSC opened its doors on 6 June 2006.

The SSC building is gorgeous,” Corr enthused.

“It’s the first purpose-built architectural frame for a centre of storytelling, which has been important in providing good acoustics that cater to different storytelling styles and flexible spaces for events,” she added.

To truly appreciate the Centre, Corr encouraged people to drop in.

She said: “The best way to understand what we do is to attend one of our events. Storytelling is entertainment in its purest form, without the barriers of technology, and we want to help people enjoy it.”

Edinburgh Fringe for All

 

Edinburgh Fringe Accessibility 

Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe  thrill is navigating its many shows and people to find hidden gems. However, if you are a visitor with additional needs this can be daunting. Imagine tackling Fleshmarket Close with a cane or deciphering a Princes Street poet via hearing aid.

Fringe Community Engagement and Access Manager Lyndsey McLean said: “The city of Edinburgh is one of the Fringe’s biggest assets, but it also presents one of its biggest challenges; its medieval and Georgian architecture creates an immediate physical barrier, which in many cases cannot be altered. Venues for the Festival Fringe often appear non-traditional theatre spaces, so we work to help venues, performers and audiences improve accessibility.”

Improving venue accessibility can mean anything from installing a wheelchair ramp, to offering autism friendly shows. With such a variety of considerations, Edinburgh Fringe has once again collaborated with specialists at Attitude is Everything to optimise its efforts.

McLean said: “This year we are piloting a Venue Access Award, developed in partnership with Attitude is Everything. This provides venue managers with minimum standard of accessibility guidelines and offers different levels of achievement. This year audiences should start to see venues displaying Venue Access Award certificates.”

The certificates are a natural progression of the projects that Edinburgh Fringe has been undertaking since its founding.

In 2011, Edinburgh Fringe introduced its access bookings team to provide a personal service for disabled audience members. Now the team continues to build its access information database, and has trained customer service staff to provide improved booking services for disabled audience members.

Alternatively, customers who want to complete bookings online can establish a show’s accessibility via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website or app.

McLean explained: “Audience members can filter their show search by accessibility. This allows you to see which shows are in venues that have level entry, wheelchair space, disabled toilets, and so on.”

She added: “Alternatively, if you find a show you would like to see – either online or in the printed programme – you can look for the access icons next to each entry. If you need more information then you can get in touch with the access bookings team, who will be happy to help.”

The Fringe booking process has also become friendlier with the introduction of free personal assistant tickets, allowing carers or friends of disabled customers to attend shows with them at no added cost.

After making it easier for disabled customers to see its shows, Edinburgh Fringe sought to give them more reason to want to see its shows. To do this the Fringe became an Attitude Champion.

McLean explained: “Being an Attitude Champion means setting goals that range from committing to ensuring that Fringe Society organised events are accessible to everyone, to creating an environment that encourages deaf and disabled people to work and/or perform at the Fringe.”

2017 Fringe shows that focus on disabled issues include include: Tom Skelton: Blind Man’s Bluff  – a comedy in which Tom talks about his and many more blind lives; Blank Tiles – a show about life after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis; and Bella Freak: Unwritten – a comedy show on three disabled individuals’ stories. These are just a taste of the many accessible shows that Edinburgh Fringe has to offer, the rest can be found at the Fringe website.

McLean concluded: “The Fringe Society works to make sure that the Fringe is as accessible and inclusive as it can be.”

Scottish Poetry Library

Hankering for a haiku or starving for a sonnet? Then look no further than the Scottish Poetry Library. Situated just off of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, it’s filled with people to help you find just the thing! Even if the thing you want is an opaque verse from childhood.

Finding missing poems is all part of the service, as the Poetry Library’s Communications Manager, Colin Waters, explained.

“People tend to call or email with a few lines of a poem they wish to track down, then our librarians call on our collection, before searching lines, trying variants and consulting colleagues to find it.”

Often people remember poems from milestones in their lives, but forget the title or the author.

Waters explained: “People often want a poem read at a wedding, funeral or indeed at a political meeting. In Scotland, when we experience important moments in our lives we like to hear what the poets have to say about them.”

This vice for verse is, Waters recons, the reason the country has produced so many world class poets.

He said: “The mature generation of Scottish poets – such as Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie and John Burnside – have won every prize going; and the Scottish Poetry Library is the best place to discover more about this wonderful heritage.”

While Scotland’s poetry is centuries old, the Scottish Poetry Library is young, having been founded in 1984. A brain child of the poet Tessa Ransford, the library first inhabited rooms within Edinburgh’s Tweedale Court, before outgrowing this space.

Waters recalled: “The Library’s collection grew, so in 1999 (after extensive fund raising) the Scottish Poetry Library moved to its current building at Crichton’s Close.”

But the work didn’t stop there; in 2015 the library underwent refurbishment to include a new entrance, sheltered terrace, further storage, recording room and event spaces.

Now the SPL is the only poetry library in Europe housed in its own specially-constituted building.

“The Library has evolved beyond bricks-and-mortar and we are exploring ways of making its poems easier to access beyond the building. We offer postal loans, our catalogue is online and people can download our poetry posters wherever they live,” Waters said.

The library has also increased its interactivity with fortnightly podcasts; as well as email, Facebook and Twitter campaigns. In 2011, the SPL’s Twitter feed was judged to be the fourth most influential in the library world.

Waters quipped: “The virtual door is always open.”

In fact, the Scottish Poetry Library website plays a vital role in recruiting its volunteers. Those interested in helping at the library can fill in an online form describing the skills they could contribute, as well as those they wish to gain.

The library also has a lot to offer recreational visitors.

Water said: “In July the Saltire Prize-winning poet Ryan Van Winkle will be hosting a SPL event at Jupiter Artland.”

He added: “The Scottish Poetry Library has a reputation for experimenting; in the past year its events have featured drag queens, throat singing, and film-poems. So far this year’s events have been somewhat more restrained, but we have interesting shows to announce this autumn.”

 

Glasgow Women’s Library

Glasgow Women's Library

Ascending the cultural statusphere is a museum unlike any other. From its base in Bridgeton, Glasgow Women’s Library is blazing a trail for the rest of the UK.

“The Library has grown from a tiny grassroots organisation to become the only accredited museum – in the UK – dedicated to Women’s History. It is also a recognised collection of national significance,” GWL Enterprise Development Manager, Sue John, said.

GWL’s status of national significance comes not just from its records of society, but from its social action. The Library grew from an Eighties project titled Women in Profile, which highlighted the cultural achievements of Glasgow’s Women, in the run up to its European City of Culture award.

Since then the library has remained committed to social activism.

John explained: “Outreach programmes are something that Glasgow Women’s Library has always ran. For instance, we have a long standing adult literacy programme and its students often become involved in our other projects.”

Part of these projects has always been the gathering of artifacts on women’s history.

John said: “We collect items that tell the stories of women’s lives, whether it be things from the women’s liberation movement or more recently things collected at Trump protests.”

Throughout the years, as GWL projects grew in number so did its artifacts. Once an impressive collection had formed the GWL went through the robust process of becoming an accredited museum.

John said: “GWL has managed to keep grassroots ownership, because everything in the Library is donated; whether it be the 20000 books, 3000 museum items or 300000 archive items.

“We have kept all of the resources accessible and friendly, to maintain our core values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

This democratic approach even extends to the museum’s curatorial choices.

John revealed: “We have a project called Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves that gets volunteers involved as the library’s community curators. This means that they help to decide which artifacts make it through to our permanent collection. The community curators pick items and find ways of interpreting their stories.”

Similar interactivity also lies at the heart of GWL events.

John explained: “We host speaker and workshop events that attract both men and women, old and young. For instance, we are hosting Open the Door, a Literary Festival that brings together women authors and aspiring writers. 

The festival will have workshops, performances and networking sessions. Headlining the festival will be writers including, Louise Welsh, Kirsty Logan, Sim Bajwa, Val MacDermid and Lesley McDowell.

John enthused: “The beauty of Glasgow Women’s Library is that we bring together people whose paths might not naturally cross. We have local people rubbing shoulders with Turner Prize nominee artists.”

GWL attempts to make culture accessible to all by offering free activities, Pay It Forward ticket schemes and disability friendly events.

John said: “As a society we are not placing as much importance as we should on the life-changing power of art, culture and heritage. We know that it can be a powerful vehicle in providing opportunities.

“When you improve the lives of women you also improve the lives of their families and the communities that they live within. That is how Glasgow Women’s Library has worked throughout the years to win hearts and minds.”

She concluded: “Everyone is welcome to come into Glasgow Women’s Library. Visitors are greeted with the offer of tea and a tour, they don’t have to spend any money or even have a reason for coming.”

[Photo credit: Keith Hunter]

Glasgow Tango Studio

Glasgow Tango Studio

Bringing Latin flavour to Scottish dance floors is Glasgow Tango Studio. Launched in 2005, by tutors Jeff Allan and Sari Lievonen, the hub operates across different venues and class levels.

Lievonen explained the dance’s appeal, saying: “If you enjoy beautiful music and interaction with other human beings then tango is for you!”

Tango is a partner dance from the Argentinean region, with many modern-day forms.

Lievonen explained: “You can sort tango into two different categories performance tango – which you see on Strictly Come Dancing – and the milonga (social) tango that we do.”

Milonga sessions are set to a tanda of similar songs, before a cortina (break) allows for the swapping of partners. In Glasgow Tango Studio events, dancers swap partners by inclining their head towards a prospectus partner  – who will move forward (to accept) or look away to decline. This tradition is called cabeceo.

After dancers have practiced their moves milongas often conclude with students demonstrating their skills. This improvised showcase is however different from the choreography of performance tango.

Lievonen said: “Learning social tango is like learning a language; you study its vocabulary and grammar and this will enable you to start making your own sentences.”

The spacing of these sentences varies depending on the type of tango. Milonguero tango uses close embraces and small steps, whereas salon tango favors open posture and longer steps. Core to both styles is traveling – heal first – with the music and your partner.

Lievonen stressed: “Tango is about connecting with your partner, not learning fancy steps. It is body language communication within the couple that makes what we call the tango connection.”

Tango connection describes the way in which a dancer can anticipate their partner’s next move.

Lievonen added: “It is possible to experience this connection in the very early stages of practicing. If both parties have the right posture then all they have to do is walk in unison, and the magic of the dance will start to appear.”

To experience this magic dancers can join Glasgow Tango Studio, on 21 April at El Abrazo Milonga (in Glasgow CCA). The night promises music from golden era tangoes, milonga and tango-valses, as well as contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.

Alternatively, beginners can try the dance at Glasgow Tango Studio taster sessions, the next of which is being held on 5 May, also at Glasgow CCA. These sessions occur around three times a year.

Lievonen added: “Beginners’ courses start in September, January and May. These classes can last 6 – 12 weeks. We also host private classes that allow people to get a better understanding of the art.”

Glasgow Tango Studio classes are currently being held in 76 Kelbourne Street Scout Hall, but updates of their details are held online.

Class participants are encouraged to book in advance, via the website or phone, to ensure even numbers for dance couples. Lievonen also explained that while tango is open to all ages, she finds it best suited to adults.

She concluded: “Life experience makes you more comfortable dancing with a partner. Men think that you need to impress a woman with fancy footwork, but this is not what women want, they want to dance with someone with whom they can relax.”

Fools and Heroes Glasgow

LARP

  

LARP or Live Action Role Play is latest form of gaming to capture the UKs imagination. Using improv, costumes and outdoor settings, it is literally a breath of fresh air.

“It’s similar to games like Dungeons and Dragons, but instead of sitting around the table rolling dice you put on costumes and become the characters,” LARP veteran Claire Main said.

Main works as Glasgow Branch Liaison Officer to LARP group Fools and Heroes, in which she has gamed for four years.

She said: LARPing has been around for quite a long time; in the eighties we spotted the first groups in the UK. In the nineties the Cuckoos Nest was set up as part of Glasgow University LARP society, but it has now become its own separate entity. Lots of LARP groups have now sprung up in Glasgow.”

Although one of many, Main explained that the Fools and Heroes group works as part of a wider network.

She said: “The society, as a whole, works by allowing members of one local branch to play in the games of others throughout the country. So you can play as your character and travel as them throughout the UK.”

Main recalled: “I had a phone call this week from a couple in the Plymouth branch of Fools and Heroes, wanting to match our LARP session dates with those of their holiday, so that they could join the game while on their break.”

She added: “I have friends all over the UK now that I wouldn’t have met otherwise; it is a wonderful social network!”

Although part of a national scene, Fools and Heroes Glasgow branch practices most in Mugdock Country Park.

Main set the scene: “The park has a lot of terrain to play with. It has an old World War II bunker that can be adapted to be a trap in the game; it also has open fields and marsh that can be farmland, battlefields or graveyards. Nature can set a wonderful backdrop to get your mind going. Some of the best games that I have had have been when the mist has come rolling in or there has been snow on the ground.”

She added: “Nature is however, only a starting point. Its up to the player to get immersed into the character and for the referees to set each situation up well, so that the game feels authentic.”

This authentic vibe is created by splitting the game and group in half; the first half sees one lot of fools and heroes assume characters on a noble quest, while the second lot will play the villains and damsels in distress. Then after lunch participants swap around, so that everyone gets a chance to play both signature and supporting characters.

Signature characters have become synonymous with LARPing, as many players use the medium to become their idols. However, Main explained that is not quite how it works in the world of Fools and Heroes.

She said: “All LARP groups are different, but Fools and Heroes sees you play one main character of your own design. You will start of as a primary character, such as a squire, then as your character grows in experience and wealth they can progress. For instance, after a while your character can join a guild, join a church, learn magic and develop into an epic hero.

“This development allows you to learn as the same time as your character, for instance the first time your character encounters a troll they won’t know what to do, so a more experienced character will need to step in and show you. Then as you learn and progress you will help those less experienced.”

This learning also expands players’ life skills.

Main explained: “It gets you exercising and encourages you to develop other skills on the side. I have learned to sew, knit, crochet all through LARPing.”

While the game is progressive, it is high contact, so not suitable for everyone.

Main cautioned: “Fools and Heroes LARP is a physical game, it involves running and combat so it would be more challenging for people with mobility restrictions, however there are all kinds of LARPing out there, so it is up to the player to find one that suits them.”

Likewise Fools and Heroes only allows full membership at the age of eighteen, due to its adult content, but Main explains that there are other groups out there that will cater to younger players.

She concluded: It is hard to describe what LARPing is, so I would say to anyone that is curious about it to just come along and give it a go. It would lend itself well to team building and an alternative day out.”

 

 

Glasgow Goes Green

 

Glasgow Goes Green

 

Bringing sustainable living facts, fun and food is the pop up festival Glasgow Goes Green. Running 15 February in SWG3 from 5– 11pm, the event is part of UK Go Green Week.

Festival lead organiser Sarah Bacom explained: Go Green Week is the largest week of student climate action. Glasgow Goes Green comes as part of it, bringing together the city’s four universities in the common cause of environmentalism.”

Although student led the festival welcomes people from all walks of life, with daytime family activities and an 18+ after party.

Bacom said: “The festival will be running in two stages; from 5- 8pm it will be family friendly, with stalls, activities and acoustic music. Then from 9 – 11pm the stalls will close and a DJ from the IM Project will lead the party.”

The venue has disabled access and guests can book free tickets from Eventbite website.

We want the festival to show that environmentalism is accessible to everyone,” the organiser added.

This sentiment will ring throughout the day’s activities.

Bacom said: “The festival will have food, arts, crafts, lifestyle and biodiversity strands. Some people will have stalls and some will host workshops. The arts strands will see interactive sessions, such as live mural painting, where the crowd can come forward and feed into the artists’ work.

“There will be art displays that people can pass and admire, but most of the art will have an interactive element.”

Getting everyone involved is the aim of the game.

Bacom explained: “This year’s festival theme is ‘What does Green Mean to You’; so we are trying to engage with people who might not identify themselves as environmentalists and change their perspective.”

She added: “Environmentalism means different things to different people; some people think of gardening while others think of protesting. Some people are very passionate about human rights, but don’t associate this with environmentalism, however we are working to show that climate justice is social justice.”

With its food for thought the festival also brings food for sustenance.

Bacom promised: “There is going to be lots of vegan, as well as gluten free food. Some of the more unusual food will include honey from the Glasgow University Beekeeping Society. The beekeepers will even be hosting honey tasting sessions!”

Honey can also be found in some of the festival’s drinks, as it will include Plan Bee a company that flavours its beer with locally sourced nectar.

Bacom enthused: “There are so many eco-friendly start- ups, niche organisations and projects in Glasgow! This shows that Glaswegians have a real desire to make their city better and empower others too.” 

This desire was reflected in the strong turn out of last year’s Glasgow Goes Green festival, which boasted over 800 attendees.

This year’s festival looks to follow suit, with 2/3 of the tickets snapped up within the first few weeks of going live.

Bacom concluded: “Come and explore Glasgow Goes Green! We have something for everyone. You never know what you might do or who you might meet!”

Traditions and Tales of a Victorian Christmas

 

Victorian Christmas

 

Christmas brings nostalgia, often with chocolate box images of Victorian Britain; an association immortalised in Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol. Now Edinburgh Castle is exploring the period’s festivities with celebrations running from December 19 – 23.

Launching this festive cheer is Assistant Events Manager at Historic Environment Scotland, Fran Caine.

He said: “Our Traditions and Tales of a Victorian Christmas was developed to provide visitors with a festive event that would explore history in an engaging way. It’s always a popular fixture in our events programme.”

Caine explained that the UK Victorian era, through its German royal family members, brought the tradition of decorating yew bows and eventually trees to the country. In keeping with this tradition, Edinburgh castle’s Victorian Christmas will be adorned with evergreen.

He described: “The centerpiece of the castle’s decoration is a Noble Fir tree, which usually stands at around 17-feet tall. Situated in the Great Hall, it proves to be an additional draw for our visitors over the festive season.”

Festivities will also include historically dressed performers, with tales and verses from the Victorian era.

Caine said: “Our performers source their own authentic costumes. Inspired by Charles Dickens, the event centers around a re-enactor portraying one of this period’s most iconic writers.”

Dickens’ depiction of festivities in A Christmas Carol showcases many Victorian conventions that have prevailed.

Caine recalled: “This particular period in time can be seen by many as the origin of the Christmas that we know and celebrate today. It was the start of a number of festive traditions that continued over a century and a half later.”

Among these traditions are annual leave from work and gift exchanging, both made possible by Victorian industrialisation.

Industrial boom in the 19th Century brought newfound wealth that allowed middle class families to take time off work, over December 25 and 26. December 26 then became known as Boxing Day, when lower class people would open the parcels of money gifted to them by employers or benefactors.

Other gifts made popular by the 19th Century were those of toys that, with the introduction of factory production, were made more affordable to the middle classes.

Just as toys became associated with Christmas in the Victorian era, so did games.

Caine said: “We might have swapped festive parlour games for more contemporary versions, but the traditions of Christmases past can still be recognised today.”

Today’s Christmas dinner also has its roots in Victorian custom.

Caine explained: “During Victorian times turkey became the popular meat dish on the Christmas table. Previously goose or beef were the preferred choices. The Victorians were also responsible for the development of the mincemeat filled mince pies that are still enjoyed at this time of year.”

He added: “Many of the festive traditions such as decorating the home, pulling crackers, sending Christmas cards and even the popularisation of the Christmas tree can be traced back to the Victorians.”

To trace these traditions in person, revellers can visit Edinburgh castle from December 19- 23, at 11.15, 12.15, 14.00 and 15.00; during this time Traditions and Tales of a Victorian Christmas is included in the cost of admission to the castle.

Caine concluded: The event will offer a real insight into the festive traditions and customs and how Christmas might once have been celebrated over 160 years ago. It is definitely one for all the family to enjoy.”