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Expressing the Earth 2019

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In collaboration with the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, the IRC organised

Expressing the Earth in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages #IYIL2019

- a weekend of workshops, performances and lectures. 


 Draft Conference Programme 

Friday 14 June 

11.30 am Introduction by Norman Bissell, Director, and Mairi McFadyen, Assistant Director, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics

12 noon Lunch and informal networking

13.00 Presentations

13.00 Riverings and Riverisks Rachel Clive
Collaborative performance projects that share creative practice and nurture relationships with the River Clyde. Discussion around personal, poetic and political understandings of human-river connections in this time of intensifying climate crisis. 

13.40 The Synthesia of Gaelic Placenames Heather Clyne
What an understanding of placenames tells us about a location and about the people who named them.

14.20 TREE: Sarah Tremlett The River We Worked - Devon 
Discovering identity through the poetics of ancestral place. The project's premiere will include a five-minute poetry film and a read extract of documented facts and prose poetry, focusing on the Edwardian era, and the River Exe (and Culm) near Exeter.

15.00 Break

15.30 Workshops
Botanical Art and its connection to Ethnobotany Karin Murray-Bergquist
This workshop/talk will be held outdoors and combine practical components (drawing specimens in the field) with discussion of plant names and uses, studying the local and particular as well as the broader trends in the discipline and its history. 
Haiku  Wee Steps Towards a (Geopoetic?) Awareness Ian McFadyen 
A short presentation outlining the origins of haiku, how it has made its way into English-language literary culture and the possibilities it offers + exercises that involve a wander in the woods in search of subject matter and inspiration.
Flash Fiction Jean Rafferty
This workshop will build and structure flash fiction and draw on many examples besides Rafferty's own. The work of Edward S Curtis, the photographer and ethnographer who preserve da record of Native Americans, will be used as prompts and participants will have the chance to write flash fiction and share it with the group.

17.00  Break

18.30 Evening Meal

20.00 Informal Ceilidh
Guitar Philip Tonner
A solo acoustic set 
Graft Annie Lord
A solo storytelling piece, written and performed by Annie Lord, exploring the art of grafting. Using 35mm slide projection and hand drawn illustrations, Graft weaves together several story lines including the birth and regeneration of Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens and the cultivation of the Bramley apple.
The Wiston Moon over Tinto: An evening workshop 
Dr Rebecca Crowther and Dr Margaret Kerr
With the moon as protagonist, performative, in this framed excursion we will explore how we relate to the moon and the darkness in this place, and will consider possibilities of a way of viewing, understanding and relating to the moon.

Saturday 15 June

9.30 Workshops
Revitalising the Commons / Recovering a Sense of World Mairi McFadyen
This workshop will explore the potential of revitalising the commons from a geopoetics perspective. We will discuss tangible real-world action for cultural renewal, thinking through how we might recover a sense of world together.
Maps, placenames and geology James Westland
This workshop will look at topography, the underlying geology and names on the map and how they are related. It will include Norse as well as Gaelic and will be very much a hands on practical approach inviting questions like what does this name mean, what does it tell us about this place?
Perception Practices: Woodland Ways Claire Pencak
This workshop is a foray into how extending the ways we engage the senses can lead us towards a heightened sensitivity which unfolds and expands the experience of a place in multiple ways. There will be time to reflect on your experience through writing, drawing or moving. No previous movement experience is required.

11.00 Break

11.30 Presentations

11.30 Zen in the work of Neil Gunn and Kenneth White Norman Bissell
This illustrated talk will outline how Zen Buddhism has influenced the work of these writers and in the process will reveal some of the elements of the theory-practice of geopoetics. 
Q & A and discussion.

12.10 I want to gae back to this source: sustaining futures at 60 degrees North Catherine J McCullagh
Based on practice-based research with people in Orkney and Shetland we will explore how connecting around the cultural expressions of living with and from the sea sustains a place for Northern Isles folk in our world. It will include excerpts from new collaborative films in which people from throughout each archipelago share their own words, music and artworks.

12.50 Lunch

13.50 Workshops
Opening Our Eyes Artist workshop Susannah Rosenfeld-King 
This workshop will explore the formal elements of the environment of Wiston Lodge by connecting to line, shape, colour and texture through writing word as drawing tasks. We will draw these via both conventional tools such as pencil, charcoal, ink, frottage on paper as well as in plein air with landscape materials, air-actions and collaborations.
What about the Geology in Geopoetics? Patrick Corbett and Dorrik Stow Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh 
This workshop aims to explore the earth and ocean images we use in poetry  ours, yours, and samples from some of our favourite poets. Taking a Geddesian approach to this intersectional opportunity, we wish to promote sympathy for geology, whilst harnessing a natural synergy with poets. 
Ruination and Decay Mandy Haggith
This workshop will explore how we can respond creatively to ruins and other signs of the past and ponder the ways that the natural processes of decay make space for new life, ideas and inspiration.  

15.20 Break and informal networking

15.50 Presentations

15.50 Silent Gestures: Joseph Beuys and Martina Kolb Martina Kolb
A visit to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2013 is the starting point for an autobiographically infused presentation. Works by Joseph Beuys will include multiples Silence (1973) rooted in the culture of the semi-nomadic Tatars, Celtic culture and Native American culture. It concludes with reflections on another gallery visit to the Beuys collection in the Lenbachhaus in Munich.

16.30 The Melting Pot Megan Hollingsworth
My participation in the conference will be part of an extended visit (my first ever, perhaps first and last) to the UK. In a poem I will read there is reference to glossolalia or xenolalia and the process of Pancha Karma (an Ayurvedic treatment in which the individual is 'melted down' inside to be made anew). These personal references play with the present heating of the oceans and changing life zones.

17.10 Break and informal networking 

18.30 Evening Meal

20.00 Informal Ceilidh 
Barnhill Norman Bissell
Readings of extracts from his newly published novel Barnhill about the last years in the life of George Orwell on the Isle of Jura and elsewhere. Some humorous, some serious - as in his desperate struggle to finish Nineteen Eighty-Four - all containing fresh insights into the complex man who tried to live self-sufficiently on Jura and whose work is becoming more and more relevant. Q&A and discussion.
The Tone Poets Alan Gay
The quintet comprises mandolins, mandola and guitar. Poetry speaks to the heart through the use of language. Tone Poets aim to capture this experience through music and its many moods and harmonies. The repertoire is eclectic: traditional, light classical, baroque, pop, Latin, Greek.
The Mother Country Helen Moore
A poetry reading from her forthcoming poetry collection, The Mother Country including words in Dharug, an indigenous language native to the Sydney region of Australia. It will explore legacies of the British Empire in Australia and Scotland, alongside personal, social and ecological dispossession.

Sunday 16 June

9.00 Free time to explore and be creative

11.30 Workshops
Plants that draw themselves Tina Scopa
The purpose of this workshop is to discover delight, surprise and wonder in the forms and pigments of plants we call weeds. It will begin with a walk to collect the plants, noticing how and where they grow, which we will use to make very simple prints on to paper where the plants will draw themselves, so no drawing or art skills are required.
Touching the Earth / Voicing the Land Helen Boden
This workshop will involve close listening to ambient sounds  running water, wind, birdsong . . . in a playful attempt to catch, vocalise and transcribe their sonic signature. Well also work with our own bodily rhythms  breath, footfall to produce some performance and text art incorporating any unfolding themes during the conference.
Perception Practices: Stone Ways Claire Pencak 
This workshop explores our relationship to stone and ground through embodied practice. We will work in the company of stones through a series of structured movement improvisations to allow stone ways to shape our moving and our mind and to discover what we can learn from stone about ourselves. No previous movement experience is required. 

13.00 Lunch and informal networking

14.00 Plenary Session: Feedback from Workshops and Presentations

15.00 Presentation

Scotland 2040: An Outline of a Future Gerry Hassan 
Scotland and the wider world face enormous questions about the future and sustainability of humanity and planet earth. Scotland 2040 will examine the terrain of the present and change we have gone through, and look at the drivers and dynamics which will shape the future. It will pose that what is required is a mass imagination which engages in futures literacy by bringing to the foreground peoples capacity to think about and imagine the future.

15.40 Plenary Session: Follow Up and Future Plans
Questions, Answers and full Discussion.

16.30 Close