Back From Beyond

Posted by on October 17th, 2013 No Comments

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Bongshang | Haltadans | Laureen Johnson and Paolo Ritch | Mareel Music Makers | The Revellers | Da ShantY Yellmen with Neil Thomson | The Shoormal Band with The Jennifer McCormick Trio | Teevliks.

Over the summer, these musicians and poets have been exploring some of Shetland’s more remote landscapes. The results and stories from their inspirational visits will be heard for the first time at Mareel on Saturday 23rd November.

On this special evening, eight new songs, pieces and suites of poems will be presented by their creators. Each piece represents 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 is shaping up to be jam-packed with a wide variety of entertaining and innovative presentations. Through documentary style footage, we will hear about the adventures of each group and learn about their creative processes. In most cases the artists will be performing live versions of their new material on stage with projected visuals. Alternative highlights will include: Teevliks, whose piece was inspired by a camping trip to Noss. They will be performing in London, beamed live to Mareel in virtual form. Paolo Ritch, who lives in Spain, will be presenting his Eshaness poetry on film, and the exciting new Bongshang piece will be revealed as a video installation where we will see and hear the Hams of Muckle Roe as never before!

The event also celebrates the launch of backfrombeyond.org. This website will include information about each NNR and NSA, details about the artists, and ideas and updates on how to get involved. Each of the new works will be available to download for free, which will allow anyone with a portable music device to enjoy the experience of listening to the pieces in the locations which inspired them.

Magnus Bradley and Lewie Peterson, along with the rest of The Revellers, spent time at Hermaness. They said: “Taking part in Back from Beyond has been very enjoyable but it’s also forced us to really think about the way we write songs and made us work more collaboratively. It’s gotten us out our comfort zone and that’s a good thing in Shetland as it’s easy to get stuck in a routine up here.

“We got to do a gig outdoors with the cliffs of Hermaness in the background; it was one of our highlights this year and something you will only do once in your lifetime. We were shocked how many people came along too and how mixed the age range was.

“In Shetland, people may argue that we are a little isolated and remote but this project turns that on its head and uses those qualities as an inspiration, away from the white noise of day to day lives.

“Our song is inspired by the tale of ‘Gutrom the Dane’, a Danish king who escaped the locals at Hermaness who wanted revenge after his ship had previously raided their own. Adam Priest, who plays with the band sometimes, told us the story while we were walking round the area. We used his words as a basis for a song and we all chipped in with different parts. We also wanted very dynamic sounds musically to match the dramatic landscape where the story is set. Although the story is set hundreds of years ago, the anti-violence and anti-war message is extremely relevant today.”

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The Revellers playing on the helipad at Hermaness, Unst. Photo by Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes.

Laureen Johnson, who has written two new poems for the project, said: “Eshaness is always impressive: ancient rocks, rollin waves, da power o da sea. Walkin on green girse trow geological time, no rightly able ta tak it in. Feelin laek dis really is da edge o da world. Dan da Hol o Scraada of coorse, da broch, da old water mills, da haaf fishing station at Stenness – a lock o things ta look at an ponder ower. I can aye write best aboot folk, an my ideas eventually cam fae da Loch o Houlland area”.

Patrick Mainland of Teevliks: “Back in June me and the other members of Teevliks made the trip to Noss and camped overnight. When we arrived the weather was very foggy and drizzly but it was still breathtaking to see the island, particularly at the Noup. The following morning, newly inspired, we began to collaborate and put ideas together. Our composition is grounded in what we wrote in Noss and we had a few practices afterwards to finish and refine it. We all greatly enjoyed exploring the place and going on to write and record the tune in Mareel, and we look forward to letting people hear it!”

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Teevliks

It is hoped that these eight pieces will help to inspire others to take part in the project. After the launch, people will be encouraged to seek their own inspiration from each location, and invited to develop their own creative piece to upload to the website. It is hoped that over time, the website could host a rich bank of creative material for each of the areas. Alice Mullay (Music Therapist and Creative Director of backfrombeyond) said: “Everyone is creative and everyone has something unique to say, whether it is through a photograph, a fiddle tune, a poem or by making a pattern of pebbles at the beach. We have lots of ideas on how to develop the project over the next few years and hope to encourage people of all ages and levels of experience to take part and make their own creative responses.”

Alice also highlighted the potential health benefits of the project: “We have the most stunning scenery right here on our doorsteps in Shetland. Going for a walk is not only good for our physical health but it can benefit us psychologically too. It can give us a sense of flow, freeing us up and offering a new perspective – even in a force 8 gale! Combined with this, active involvement in a creative activity can also be of great benefit to our emotional well-being.”

Haltadans Foula

Haltadans in Foula. Photo by Maurice Henderson.

Juan Brown of SNH, who have provided funding for the project as part of the Year of Natural Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support this innovative project, bringing together the arts and nature in this Year of Natural Scotland. The music inspired by visits to Shetland’s National Scenic Areas and National Nature Reserves will no doubt encourage others to get out there and see what natural wonders Shetland has to offer.”

Emma Perring (Project Director of backfrombeyond.org) said: “Alice and I would like to thank our funders – SNH and Promote Shetland – but we are also very appreciative of all the time that has been given up to this project by the artists and film-makers. It has been very rewarding to see their enthusiasm for the project, and to see how Shetland’s amazing landscapes are providing so much inspiration for new Shetland music and poetry.”

Tickets are now on sale at the Shetland Box Office on 01595 745555 or www.shetlandboxoffice.org.

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