Magnetic North Blog
Our next Space Time retreat will run from 23rd-27th February 2018 at the Swallow Theatre in Dumfries and Galloway and the application process is now open. Experienced artists from any art form are welcome to apply by the deadline of 5pm on Friday 22nd December.
Space/Time is a paid creative retreat for experienced artists from all disciplines that asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”
It aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we will explore how creativity can be nourished and how artists can continue challenging themselves to develop.
The residency combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection and work. It is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.
You can find out more about how to apply here.
Our next Space / Time residency - a creative retreat for experienced artists - begins on Friday at Cove Park on the west coast of Scotland.
Space / Time aims to refresh the artists taking part, and to give them the space and time to reflect on their own creative practice. The residency is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.
Here is a brief introduction to the artists coming:
Tam Dean Burn
Tam has been an actor and performer for 45 years. Born in Leith, he performs regularly with the London art radio station resonancefm.com. His acting work includes: Tutti Frutti,
Home Edinburgh (National Theatre of Scotland); Mary Stuart (Donmar Warehouse and Apollo West End); The Cutting Room and Filth (Citizens, National Tour and Calgary, Canada). Television work includes: Longford (Channel 4); River City (BBC); Taggart (STV).
A visual artist (mainly in carved natural stone) based in rural Moray, Mary's practice includes studio work, commissions for public places and education work. All of her practice is concerned with how we relate subjectively to our physical world. Trained at Edinburgh College of Art, her professional experience has included public commissions, including artwork at Bennachie, Aberdeenshire; Mallerstang, East Cumbria and Mugdock Country Park, Milngavie. She has worked with high profile architects like Page/Park (Eden Court Theatre) and Malcolm Fraser (Scottish Poetry Library), and with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust and Historic Environment Scotland.
Lynda is a playwright and dramaturg from Cork, who has been based in Glasgow for the past 12 years. She writes plays and mentors other writers and creatives. Her play Futureproof had an Irish tour earlier this year, and The Interference premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in collaboration with Pepperdine University. The Interference was also revived in California this year, and is currently playing at the Hollywood Fringe. Lynda is developing plays with Magnetic North, Stellar Quines and MACCT students from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland.
Elaine has been working as an artist for the past 20 years in a number of disciplines: installation, performance art, dance; and over the last eight years in film. Her film work is informed by an interest in and experience of movement. The films she produces are developed from a relationship with and an interest in a particular person. Over the past four years she has specialised in working with people with dementia, drawing on her experience of working in this field with dance throughout her career. Her next film will explore the impact of dementia on a relationship.
The first recipient of Magnetic North Artist's Attachment award Hanna Tuulikki is a visual artist, composer, and performer who works with the voice. Her approach is relational and place-responsive, and she is interested in how sound, gesture and language frame our connection with our environment. Though she works across different media, the voice is central to her practice – her first love is to sing and she composes for and with the voice, creating tapestries of a cappella sound that sit at the heart of live performances, films and audiovisual installations. Over the past few years, she has begun to blend her musical compositions with gesture and costume.
The next Space / Time retreat will be held in February 2018. Application information will be available in early December - join our Artist Development mailing list to receive details.
In researching famous fathers and sons it became evident that the majority had followed similar career paths. Peter and Kasper Schmeichel, both premier league winning goalkeepers; Martin and Charlie Sheen, both actors with a history of substance abuse; God and Jesus, kind of the same person so couldn't really be more alike; Donald and Donald Trump, both insufferable arseholes.
There is, of course, an evolutionary imperative in copying your father and learning how to read and negotiate the world. Those proto-humans who, from an early age, did not copy the hunting and evading techniques of their parents, did not, in most cases, live long enough to procreate and pass those disobedient genes on. They were not selected for.
Indeed, I remember as a child wanting to be a minister because it was what my father did. I remember thinking that it was a worthwhile pursuit and taking pleasure in the knowledge that showing such respect would make my dad proud of me and perhaps bring us closer - the primal urge to copy and survive still present, but evolved further to include more sophisticated human emotions.
But there comes a time when the child must rebel, and this too is rooted in evolution. The child needs to learn to fend for themselves so that when the parents die they are capable of surviving in the world and finding a mate to start the whole circle over again. Those creatures who, at a certain point, did not break free from their parents, did not, in most cases, live long enough to procreate and pass those overly clingy genes on. They were not selected for.
And so here we are, impossibly caught between two desires, to cling on and to let go; to copy and to create; to honour and to reject. How do we negotiate this dual purpose? How do we keep our parents happy whilst also living our own lives? If your father wanted you to do something that wouldn't really cost you much, like sprinkling some water on a child's head and telling a wee lie about how you plan to bring them up, would you do it? Which impulse would you follow? Respect or rebellion?
I know which way I'm leaning, but if you come see the show you might be able to help me decide once and for all.
On tour October-November 2017.
How can I try to explain,
Cause when I do he turns away again
It's always been the same, same old story
(Father and Son, Cat Stevens, 1970)
Every father I know or have worked with, has, to a greater or lesser extent, but usually the greater, wanted to do the best for his children. What is hard to come to terms with is the sheer weight of the opposite. That is, fathers depicted as unlistening, uncommunicative, distant, tyrannical, I could go on (‘feckless’, ‘deadbeat’).
You would think that seventy years after Edmund Gosse’s description of "the hush" around the stern father and lonely son "in which you could hear a sea anemone sigh", that things would have changed for the better. The World Wars of the first half of the 20th century may have made men more taciturn about their feelings but, surely, the loosening of role-divisions over child care and the lessening of demands on men to be the sole breadwinner that came after, ought to have made a difference in how fathers and children got along with each other. Not so for Cat Stevens.
As a Scottish father, I am pained by accounts of unloving fathers that turn away. More so when they are Scottish. There is no end of memoirs about abusive Scottish fathers from, for example, comedian Billy Connolly, author Alan Burnside and actor Alan Cumming. Clearly there are troubling (and troubled) Scottish fathers but the sheer volume of their depiction, seems to have led to the creation of a widely held view of all Scottish fathers. Cruel fathers of the type played by Peter Mullan in the film Neds (2010) and described by Andrew O’Hagan:
Those Scottish fathers. Not for nothing their wives cried, not for nothing their kids. Cities of night above those five o’clock shadows. Men gone way too sick for the talking. And how they lived in the dark for us now. Or lived in our faces, long denied. And where were our fathers? We had run from them (Our Fathers, 1999).
Such characterisations of men stretch back many years and continue to be repeated. So, I have not only been pained by such accounts but I have also been spurred to find out as much as I can and to write about the day-to-day micro-challenges that men can face when trying to be good fathers. If you dig deep you can find contra-accounts, stories, for example of the Dundee house fathers of the 1920s. But these accounts are in a minority.
What’s the answer? Every time children (of all ages) are asked about their fathers, the one consistent thing they say they wish they could have (or have had) more of, is his time. Fathers don’t have to do anything or buy stuff they just need to be with their children. And when they are far away or absent for whatever reason, children need to know he has kept them in mind. Not much of an answer but it costs nothing and can move mountains.
On tour October-November 2017.