Cromarty Arts Trust Image Gallery


Cromarty Arts Trust, Words and Music Residencies

October - November 2012

CABN linked with Cromarty Arts Trust as part of the Trust’s year-long ‘Words and Music’ project to offer two residency opportunities. The Trust had long experience of hosting a wide range of residencies, since 1996. The residencies were open to Scottish Borders based writers and musicians, one from each medium, to live and work at the vibrant Cromarty Arts Trust in the Black Isle for up to two weeks in October 2012. As well as an opportunity to gain fresh inspiration in a different environment it was hoped that the residency would seed ideas for contacts and potential collaborations.

Writer Residency: Allan Harkness

Allan writes and makes visual works and his interests lie across art, environment and modern literature. His current role as owner/director of an independent bookstore – The Forest Bookstore in Selkirk – allows him to combine and explore these interests. His Forest Bookstore also houses a small gallery space, where exhibitions and installations have taken place.

For the Cromarty residency, Allan proposed to work on a new set of poems clustered around linked themes: Bestiary (particularly animal and plant images or objects) and object collections, inscriptions and labels. Cromarty would help define the direction of some new work, perhaps starting from a period of observation of the town’s built environment, museum collections and some found objects. Urquhart’s translation of Rabelais and the woodcut illustrations to Hugh Miller’s Foot-Prints of the Creator were seen as possible starting points to move things along, isolating words and phrases or images from each.

“I did achieve much of what I had intended to do during the period of the residency. I have also begun the process of making a visual score for future collaborative work with Neil Davidson and the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra on Urquhart’s translation of Books 1 and 2 of Gargantua and Pantagruel. ….The outcome of the residency was better than I expected, though the writing appeared more topographical-historical in kind than I had planned. Reading Rabelais in Cromarty was a real catalyst too, particularly for the paintings. It has been encouraging in terms of collaborative work. I see the potential for a serious, major piece involving experimental music practitioners (long term). Also, it has confirmed my preference to both paint and write, using literary and cultural sources in situ.

I  produced twelve poems and nine works on paper (paintings). Short-term residencies can be very useful, though carrying production through to final realisations does take time thereafter.  Cromarty Arts Trust has excellent resources, which I found to be well suited to creative work (Ardyne particularly so). The arts officers and others were liberal, helpful and generous. Cromarty itself is rich in cultural life, historical interest and natural phenomena. I hope that CABN will develop these ties further, with more exchanges and shared projects.”



Music Residency:   James Mackintosh

James has been a professional musician for nearly thirty years, involved in writing, performing and teaching internationally. At the time of his submission, James was about to embark upon a new collaborative composition and the residency would provide time to concentrate and prepare for this and another new recording project. He and his writing partner had also been invited to perform a dawn concert at the Riff Folk Festival in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, in late October 2012, a prestigious event attended by artists from all around the world, with the intention of initiating collaborative work culminating in performance in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games 2014. Some of this output would ultimately be recorded for commercial release.

“I was required to write and arrange some specific pieces of music for a performance at the Riff Festival in Jodphur, billed by them as “A Scottish Dawn in Rajasthan” and this was an invaluable opportunity to concentrate and prepare. …The rehearsal time was invaluable and the facilities excellent. The town of Cromarty and surrounding landscape inspire contemplation and the peaceful atmosphere allows for good concentration. The only unanticipated outcome was that I composed some music which was unexpected in it’s content, in that I wrote a song unconnected to the project and sang it myself, which is something I rarely have the opportunity to do.

It has allowed me to improve my guitar technique, my singing technique and allowed me to concentrate on arrangements and composition. I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity which allowed me to focus upon the project I was working on. My concentration was greatly enhanced by the working environment provided by CABN and the Cromarty Arts Trust and the responses to the compositions themselves, once performed, were very positive indeed. Ardyne House is a great facility with very comfortable accommodation, as were the Stables Studios where I spent my second week in residency. The prospect of touring the music written has been brought a little closer too.”