Scheme to span area’s arts spectrum

THE POETRY and jazz of bicycles, images of working women’s hands, harp music and words for the landscape, and an ambitious project fusing recorded music, performance and visual art – these are some of the exciting and extraordinary commissions created in the region thanks to Arts Live.

Arts Live, funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council and managed by Dumfries & Galloway Arts - dgArts - provides a number of small commissions that can be awarded to local performers, artists and writers as part of the Arts Live grants scheme.

A cross-arts project involving poetry, jazz and artists’ books, The Flying Scot (think Graeme Obree rather than trains) will present a sonnet redoublé (a chain of 15 sonnets) by well-known poet Rab Wilson, with a complementary suite of jazz pieces by hugely talented young saxophonist Ben Bryden, all brought together in a limited edition artist’s book by Dumfries artist and publisher Hugh Bryden.

The legendary custom-built Scottish bicycle will be celebrated through the poems, the music and the richly illustrated and specially designed bookform. Performances of The Flying Scot will be poetry reading, jazz gig and book launch all in one, and are expected to take place in the early summer.

Photographer Val Horton, from Creetown, has been commissioned to create Ladies Fingers, an exhibition and companion photobook record of the hands of craftswomen, carers and musicians doing what they do (without their medium).

So, a pianist’s hands in a playing position without a piano, a knitter without needles and yarn, a baker without dough, an artist without a brush, a mother without a sleeping child, or a nurse taking a pulse without a patient. The subjects will be drawn from Wigtownshire and the Stewartry and will be from a range of ages.

Ladies Fingers will be exhibited at Kirkcudbright Tollbooth from March 30 to April 9; The CatStrand at New Galloway from April 11-17; at Newton Stewart Library from April 18-26 and Stranraer Library, April 26 to May 7.

World-renowned harpist Wendy Stewart, from Wallaceton, has been commissioned to create work for an evening concert Words on Music on Land with poet Kenneth Steven.

Their theme is the land and our relationship with it. Kenneth Steven visited the region last year when he read in Dumfries and Galloway’s well-known Poetry Doubles series.

Words on Music on Land will be performed later this spring.

Young musician Robert Shields (named by the Herald newspaper in 2007 as one of Scotland’s Top Twenty Influential Teenagers) fronts The Finding Albert project, which has been commissioned to create a debut CD.

The project is about the creation of a music/arts movement, involving many local artists including musicians, composers, producers, artists and film-makers. The eight-piece Scottish indie group is very distinctive in that it also includes a string quartet. The Finding Albert project aims to have a beneficial and lasting impact on music and the arts in the region. The launch of Finding Albert’s new album is imminent.

An Arts Live commission has also supported writer Des Dillon with marketing for his play ‘Six Black Candles’ (which will be touring D&G in May) and helped Annan artist Jack O’Hara in completing his mural for Annan Harbour last year.