We’ve been getting out and about with our Ties to the Tay project. A few weeks ago we held a CECHR funded workshop at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) Headquarters in Perth. This was a very productive meeting where we explored: our progress so far; what sort of activities we would like to develop–including dissemination of the films we are producing; additional collaborators we may work with; and, the RSGS exhibition areas (where we may host future project events/screenings).
We also welcomed geographer and artist, Amy Woolvin, who recently moved to the Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College-UHI (and is completing the final stages of her PhD in Geography at the University of Dundee). Amy’s participation in the group helps to strengthen our creative-human geography-environment connections, and further information about her fascinating dissertation project can be found here: Dissertation overview by Amy Woolvin (née Holden).
Following on from the RSGS gathering, we more recently held a fieldtrip workshop at a selection of sites that feature in the stories and poems of the Watermarks collection. One of the ideas behind the day’s events was to record project participants’ experiences and to document how the River Tay and environs had acted as a catalyst for creative activity and communicating new understandings of place.
We began our journey with a trip to the site of David Carson’s story, ‘A World Away,’ and recorded a short conversation about how the location had acted as inspiration. We also tried experimenting with some new camera equipment and a ‘furry’ microphone–kindly coordinated by Tracey Dixon–and realised that we’re getting closer to overcoming our battle with gusts of gales (but still have to look out for tufts of microphone fluff appearing in shot!).
We then travelled west along the River Tay to the hamlet of Kingoodie. This is the site for Roddie McKenzie’s soon-to-be-filmed short story, which explores some hidden ‘undercurrents’ of Tayside life. The area provides a striking backdrop to a tale of intrigue, unexpected adventure and humour. The area was also known for its quarrying resources and much of the nearby stone was used to reinforce seawalls built to protect this ‘Ceann na Gaoithe’ (or windy head(land)).
And although we found it in a relatively tranquil state, signs of change in the river landscape could also be noted in the form of a new residence being constructed on its edge at the old Kingoodie Pier.
Errol train station was our final stop before sustenance at our local favourite cafe, The Horn (which is becoming a regular creative stopping point!). Although no longer in use as an active station, trains still pass by on the adjacent line, and the station building itself is now a private residence. This is also one of the settings for Ann Prescott’s short film, ‘Wheels for Feet.’
The morning provided a unique opportunity to converse about how people and places have come together in situ, and how these connections can be interwoven through the mediums of creative writing and film.