ABERDEEN.- Artist Jacqueline Donachie is to create a new temporary public artwork in Huntly town centre, and harpist Catriona McKay and composer Alistair MacDonald are to give a very special performance in the local woods on Mid-summer’s weekend. Both projects are the culmination of artist residencies with Deveron Arts and will be among the highlights of SLOW DOWN, three days of events focusing on cars, bikes and the environment. (19-21 June 2009).
Donachie’s artwork will take the form of a multi-coloured drawing on the streets of the North-East Scotland town. The making of the drawing on the afternoon of 20 June is set to be a real family affair as it will be created by hundreds of members of the community and visitors including Donachie, her husband – the artist Roderick Buchanan - and their three sons.
“My aim is to get at least 100 people to take part in the project each of whom will attach a small device to the wheel of their bikes that will leave a chalk trail as they travel along,” she explains. By using a variety of different coloured chalks the cyclists will create a multicoloured ribbon through the town, which will also serve another purpose. “There has long been talk of creating a safe bike lane in Huntly,” adds Donachie, “but nobody knows what it would look like. Hopefully this drawing will show us all.” The route that Donachie has identified, and which all the participating cyclists will follow, is the culmination of a series of conversations with Huntly residents on where they would like a town cycle lane to be. The route will end in Battlehill Quarry, a magical place at the edge of Huntly, where Donachie will install the Slow Down Camp Kitchen to serve high tea.
Meanwhile later in the afternoon of 20 June the acclaimed Celtic harpist Catriona McKay will give three special performances of A See of Green in Battlehill woods together with the electro-acoustic composer Alistair MacDonald. MacDonald has “sampled” the woods recording the day-to-day sounds that animate the space. From these he has composed a sound-scape to be played as part of the performances integrating past samplings with the actual sound-scape and live improvised music from Catriona. Together these will reveal a new, hybrid world of human and environmental sound.
The creation of the community drawing will necessitate the closure of a number of roads in the town centre and the musical performance will throw the spotlight on the role of woodlands as both a leisure resource for the community and a vital part of the local ecology. Together these events will kick start a debate to be continued in an international symposium on the afternoon of 21 June.
It is widely recognised that an increase in walking and cycling for short journeys in urban areas can significantly reduce traffic congestion, improve the quality of the urban environment, promote improved personal health, and contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions. However, how would this work within a rural town where access to vehicular transport is essential? What impact might restrictions on car access have to a town centre already suffering the “double whammy” of competition from two major supermarkets and the economic downturn? How do we balance the needs of the local economy with wider environmental imperatives? Chaired by journalist, cultural commentator and editor of www.stv.tv Robert Dawson-Scott, the symposium brings together international voices in the environmental debate - Griet Scheldeman, Douglas Ritchie and Peter Brandauer - with local contributors from Aberdeenshire transport planning and the Huntly business association.
The weekend of events, which includes walks, talks, cycling events, workshops and more, culminates in a mid-summer’s evening walk up the Clashmach, with its stunning views over the surrounding countryside, and a solstice bonfire.