Exciting New Project Melds Arts And Environment

by Alastair Hamilton -

A new project, 'Back from Beyond', which was launched at Mareel in November, uses Shetland's beautiful landscapes to inspire artists, poets and musicians.

Over the summer, a host of Shetland's musicians and poets have been exploring some of Shetland's more remote landscapes. The results, together with stories from their inspirational visits, were heard for the first time at Mareel on 23rd November. Eight new musical compositions and suites of poems were presented by their creators. Each piece represented one of Shetland's National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and National Scenic Areas (NSAs): Hermaness, Fethaland, Eshaness, Hams of Muckle Roe, Noss, Foula, South West Mainland and Fair Isle.

The evening included video accounts of each group's adventures and their creative processes, together with live performances on stage. The event also celebrated the launch of the associated website, which includes information about the sites and artists involved. The new works are available to download for free.

Maurice Henderson, of internationally-renowned band, Fiddler's Bid, said:

"I took part in the project as part of the group Haltadans and we spent an incredibly inspiring four days and nights in Foula. Haltadans explored the island (most of the band hadn't been to Foula before), taking photos and meeting the locals. We held an informal concert in the hall and the islanders took along a tremendous spread of food. We all danced the Foula Reel and had tunes in folks' houses. There was also time to just relax and play music or take in the scenery. From our experiences on the island, we composed and arranged new music, very much inspired by our Foula trip. We took some video footage to accompany the new tunes."

The project was conceived and managed by Alice Mullay and Emma Perring, with funding from Scottish Natural Heritage as part of the Year of Natural Scotland.