A nationwide tour by a 10-metre tall mythical sea goddess puppet, a coastal opera featuring modern-day mermaids singing at sunset, a six-month rowing relay and a seaweed festival on an uninhabited island will part of the first tourism drive focusing on Scotland’s “unrivalled shores.”
Performances and events will appear next year on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal, a castle overlooking Loch Ness, an “urban beach” in Perthshire, and the “river town” where the iconic sailing ship Cutty Sark was built in 1869, Dumbarton.
The £1.14 million Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 programme will also see a Northern Lights Festival transform Wick Harbour, the staging of Scotland’s biggest open water rowing race on the Clyde, and a film and live music experience inspired by the RNLI ‘s lifeboat crews.
Open-air cinema screenings which will be held at South Queensferry’s marina in the run-up to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, while the National Theatre of Scotland will stage plays on Calmac ferries.
Other events include a four-day festival to herald the unveiling of a new marina in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis and a weekend “seaside festival” which will be staged at Irvine’s harbour against the backdrop of the Isle of Arran.
Other highlights of the Year of Coasts and Waters programme include open-air cinema screenings which will be held at South Queensferry’s marina in the run-up to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and plays which the National Theatre of Scotland will stage on Calmac ferries.
The campaign will get underway at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival, with the official unveiling of “Storm,” a puppet created by theatre company Visual Mechanics.
She will lead a parade from the Clyde to the Royal Concert Hall, which will host a daytime “Coastal Connections event, where acts from coastal communities like Capercaillie, Skerryvore, Julie Fowlis and Daimh will perform.
A spokeswoman for Vision Mechanics, which plans to take Storm to villages, towns and cities across Scotland, said: “Made from entirely recycled and natural resources, Storm stands at over two double decker buses high and weighs in at around 500 kilos. Eight puppeteers and mechanical support are required to manipulate her movement.”
The Nevis Ensemble, which is billed as “Scotland’s street orchestra, will be working with communities on the Isle of Eigg, Aberdeen, Saltcoats and Stevenston, and Dunbar, along with composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, to create new orchestral music inspired by the relationship of each place with the sea.
A spokesman said: “These new works will be written for the full 40-piece Nevis Ensemble, which will perform them alongside community participants during two tours, in June and November 2020, when the orchestra will give 60 performances in six Scottish local authorities.
“Performances will take place in both public locations such as beaches, marinas, on ferries, swimming pools and museums, and in community-based venues such as day centres for adults with disabilities, homeless centres, hospitals and schools.”
Visitors to the Isle Martin Seaweed Festival will take a boat trip from Ardmair, near Ullapool, to the uninhabited island of Isle of Martin in the Summer Isles for a weekend of art installations, live music, walks, workshops and spoken word events.
Lesley Strachan, spokeswoman for the Isle Martin Trust, said: We look forward to developing our event and presenting an extraordinary and fascinating weekend celebrating the rich seaweed life of our shorelines in September 2020.
“Amazing commitment from local organisations will help our beautiful community owned island provide the perfect setting.”
Signal at Dusk, an operatic odyssey being created for Irvine’s beach by Glasgow-based arts company Cryptic, will focus on a group of modern-day mermaids who will lure audiences “as sources of seduction, of desire, of nourishment, of danger, destruction and loss” as lights search the landscape like lighthouse beacons.
The RNLI’s archives have been opened up to award-winning composer, composer, sound artist and beatboxer Jason Singh and award-winning film curator Shona Thomson for their project Launch, which will also involve live performces from singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon.
Around 1000 participants from more than 60 different rowing clubs will pass a commemorative baton around the coast of Scotland in a six-month relay which will be undertaken in five-person open boats.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “We’re inviting the world to dive into the amazing experiences our coasts and waters provide.
“From water inspired myths and legends, historic harbours, rich rivers, captivating canals and sweeping coastlines to the very best in seafood, whisky, wildlife and wellness.
“Scotland’s enviable reputation for unspoiled beaches, vibrant natural and cultural heritage and thrill-seeking adventure activities will be celebrated through a packed year-long programme of events and activities.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who unveiled the programme of events at the National Museum of Scotland, said: “We have an exciting year ahead celebrating Scotland’s wonderfully diverse coasts, canals, rivers and lochs.
“The Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 Events Programme is full of tours and exhibitions, great events, cultural performances, community activities and festivals.”
Published scotsman.com/news, 13 November 2019