Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

Highland Festival – 1995

Some History for you. Back in 1995 there was a Highland Arts festival. One of the projects was an art exhibition of art created within a set 24 hour period, as part of this there was an ‘Art train’ artists and musicians on the train journey from Kyle to Inverness, interpreting that journey then handing in the work at the end. The journey was great fun, a lovely atmosphere on the train. I had my three children with me, then aged 9, 7 and 2.
I did a sequential interpretation of the journey, watercolour & pens on 3 sheets of A1 paper, the landscape reading like a story as it unfolded. These later sold to a swiss couple.
 My son struggled but eventually wrote this poem;
I am moaning on this train because I cannot draw,
Living in the Highlands is lonely
Living in the Highlands is Cold
On the art train a nice train driver showed me the cabin and I got to beep the horn.
The festival train what a beautiful name
Engines roar as rails click
Beautiful scenery passes all the way
So go and buy a ticket.
My eldest daughter Tal painted colourful landscapes.

Our work all got framed up and exhibited. As a result of this came a book, “People in a Landscape”, which contained some of the artists and their portraits, from the angle of ” the New Highlanders ” The author noting that many of these artists were not indigenous highlanders. Myself included as I arrived in 1976, what about my children? they were born & bred here? does it matter ? There was an article in I think-The Times, which caused much anger as it used the expression ‘white settler’.

meanwhile, my daughter Tal was chosen for inclusion in the book. portraits were taken by the very talented Craig MacKay.

There was a book launch, lots of people in suits doing speeches, I put on my best handmedown homemade patched up frock & attended with my gaggle of children. I hated it, stood in a corner like uninvited guests ignored, I’d always felt such and outsider in the arts scene. A woman with a very English accent swathed in tartan courted the press. We slunk away embarrassed & miserable, the chip on my shoulder had got bigger, I think I took the children for a treat like chips or toyshop, something lowbrow & real. Its taken me some decades to get past this outsider feeling, and its nothing to do with ability, just who you know & how you present yourself. Of course being a single mom tucked away in a remote glen with no support network didn’t exactly aid inclusion for me or my children.
It all seems a million miles away now.
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This entry was posted on October 30, 2009 by in Uncategorized.

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