Culture 2014 is arts accompaniment to upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Culture 2014 is arts accompaniment to upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Away with the Birds

New work from sculptor Rob Mulholland, artist and composer Hanna Tuulikki and Indepen-dance

Aboriginal art at Tramway; a pan-African orchestra exploring Glasgow’s links with the slave trade; films from Shetland; a classical mega-orchestra; actor Tam Dean Burn giving a cycling tour of children’s stories; Vivaldi choreography in Aberdeenshire; even young journalists exploring tomorrow’s news. With almost 200 individual projects, it’s hard to even scratch the surface of the bewilderingly broad and diverse events that form part of the Culture 2014, the creative arts arm of Glasgow 2014.

‘We didn’t just want to parachute in a festival,’ says Jill Miller, director of cultural service at Glasgow Life and one of the prime movers behind the programme. ‘We wanted to make sure it connected with existing cultural activities.’ And as such, it’s one of the grandest showcases of Scottish contemporary culture that the nation has ever seen. ‘We wanted to be clear about what it feels like to people in Glasgow and Scotland, and how it comes across to people from the rest of the world who will be visiting the city.’

Miller is keen to stress links between the cultural events and the Commonwealth Games themselves: ‘There are huge parallels between elite athletes and artists in terms of their passion, the work they put in.’ And she’s encouraging everyone to get involved: ‘It’s all about engaging people, so we’ve been asking artists and organisations to see how they can do that. One example is the Big Big Sing, where we’re encouraging people to sing as part of a choir, and even set one up in their own communities.’

With events happening all over Scotland in the run-up to the Games, as well as a Glasgow-wide cultural celebration to coincide with the sporting activities, Glasgow 2014’s cultural events will be hard to avoid. Here we look at three of the most intriguing projects.

Away with the Birds

Glasgow-based artist and composer Hanna Tuulikki’s entrancing choral piece Away with the Birds has already had a few incarnations, but its performance as part of Culture 2014 at the end of August is its grandest and most ambitious yet. ‘It’s going to be on a floating stage in the harbour on the isle of Canna. The Inner Hebrides is a magical place. I see the performance starting as soon as people get on the boat to get there: it’s the experience of taking people on a journey.’

The piece explores connections between the birdsong of the Western Isles and Gaelic folksong. ‘We’re using fragments from nine traditional songs and a handful of poems that imitate or emulate birdsong,’ she says. ‘Each section represents a different habitat and bird community. There will be costumes and choreography, and the set will be a huge sail made from pieces of fabric donated by the community of artists and Canna residents who are making the project happen.’ And for anyone unable to make the island pilgrimage, Tuulikki is planning additional performances in Glasgow’s Tramway in September.

Gathered Together

Exploring the intersection of dance and disability, Gathered Together is Scotland’s first inclusive dance festival, at Glasgow’s Tramway from 27–30 August, featuring companies from France, Belgium, England and Scotland. ‘There will be workshops, performances and discussions: our ethos is for people with whatever ability they have to be able to access dance,’ says Karen Anderson, artistic director of inclusive dance company Indepen-dance which hosts the festival. ‘Inclusivity goes right across the board; there will be disabled people involved in every area, giving workshops, performing, leading discussions.’

Headline performances are set to include some of the biggest names in Scottish dance but details are still being confirmed. ‘The final event will be a huge, big, interactive ceilidh,’ says Anderson who is finalising a top Scottish dance company and band to lead it. ‘It’ll be quite an alternative event. We’ve already had discussions about involving wheelchair users and other disabled dancers in the ceilidh.’

A Breath of Fresh Air

Cuningar Loop is a new woodland park being developed for Glasgow as part of the Commonwealth Games’ legacy, and Glasgow-born artist and sculptor Rob Mulholland is one of two creators (along with James Winnett) conceiving artworks for the site. ‘It’s a fascinating place,’ he says. ‘It was the site of the first Glasgow waterworks, in 1810, and the whole area is strewn with rubbish – stuff from the Gorbals clearances in the 50s and 60s.’

Mulholland has worked with local residents on ideas for artworks. ‘We’ve come up with some more traditional permanent public artworks, and also ideas for works that use recycled bottles to create buildings, or bikes to build a giant sculpture. People would come to the park with their bikes, lend them to us for a couple of hours, and we’d use them as part of the work.’ His contributions are still at the planning stage, and the park isn’t due to open until spring 2015, but he’s keen to involve the local community as widely as possible. ‘There are about half a dozen local unemployed guys I’ve been working with – the idea is to set up a workshop in the East End and have them come in to help weld one of the sculptures, so that they’re involved in the art, and to give them new skills.’

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Culture 2014

A national celebration counting down to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Culture 2014 will showcase dance, theatre, music, visual arts, comedy and so much more in the run up to the Games. Everyone’s invited!