Monday 12 May 2014

Meeting in Lisbon

Last February Seeing Stories partners met in Lisbon for the second partnership meeting. The meeting this time focused more on the creative content of the project and particularly on the coming Storytelling festivals in Portugal (July), Italy (September), Germany (October) and Scotland (October-November).

Our Portuguese partners from IELT and Memoria Imaterial also introduced us to Lisbon and to those parts of the city that will host the storytelling festival in July.

We all look forward to go back to this beautiful city and to listen to its stories.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

A tour to the Scottish Borders

On the 28th and 29th of October 2013, soon after the ending of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, project partners and storytellers headed for a tour in the Scottish Borders, about 40Km south of Edinburgh.

The Borders' landscapes and the valley of the river Tweed are rich with stories, with the village of Earlston being the place where Thomas the Rhymer fell in love with the Fairy Queen, to mention one of the most popular Scottish legends.
The area was also a great source of inspiration for some well known Scottish authors such as Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg.

On Tuesday 29th we all attended the project conference "Seeing Stories - Interpreting Landscape Narrative", held at the picturesque location of Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, nearby Melrose.
Each partner presented its ideas for the development of the project activities in their countries, followed by discussions. The conference also included a tour of the surrounding area, with a view on the Eildon Hills, a stop at the village of Earlston and a visit to the mansion of Sir Walter Scott.

Earlston village - in the spot where Thomas the Rymer saw the Fairy Queen. On the right, storyteller Stewart McHardy (Scotland).
Storytellers George Macpherson (Scotland) and Regina Sommer (Germany).

Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott

Friday 11 April 2014

Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2013 "Once Upon a Journey"

Storytelling festivals in all partners' countries will represent the main outcomes of the Seeing Stories project.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2013 "Once Upon a Journey" was very honoured to showcase the newly started European cultural cooperation for the first time, hosting and actively engaging our partners from Portugal, Italy and Germany.

Held between Friday 18th - Sunday 27th of October 2013 and fully inspired by the Scottish tradition of the ceilidh and its sense of togetherness, the SISF is a 10 days celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity, gathering every year a large number of Scottish and international storytellers and musicians.

Main venue is the Netherbow theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Royal Mile, at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. Festival events always spread to many other venues in Edinburgh and Scotland and in the 2013 they included Edinburgh's iconic Calton Hill.

Our European partners had occasion to be involved in such lively atmosphere and festival audiences could enjoy storytelling performances from Italy, Germany and Portugal - being the SISF 2013 the very first one featuring Portuguese storytellers!

We look forward to take part in the storytelling festivals in Portugal, Italy and Germany, while we also start getting ready for the SISF 2014 "Once Upon a Place".

For a retrospective look on the SISF 2013 programme:

For more info about storytelling festivals in Portugal, Italy and Germany please check Seeing Stories website.

"Open Hearth" - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Netherbow theatre

"Natural Journeys" - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Thursday 20 March 2014

A bardic journey to the Isle of Skye

In June 2013, on occasion of the summer solstice, the Scottish Storytelling Forum organised a two-day storytelling trip from Edinburgh to the remote valley of Glendale, on the Isle of Skye. Here the Gaelic lore is strongly connected to the landscapes and the work of the local storyteller Seoras (George) Macpherson played a key role in preserving local narratives that were orally passed on from generation to generation.

Seoras Macpherson led us on story walks where we enjoyed a full immersion in local stories, legends and historical facts. In contrast with more popular outdoor activities such as hiking and hillwalking, these walks had the characteristic of being short, slow paced and sometimes without a specific destination. Local stories sprung up from the ground almost at every step, ranging from the legend of the flat top hills that could be seen far in the distance to popular beliefs related to the herbs that were right under our feet. It was an unusual and certainly interesting way to experience a place, where also the slow rhythm of the walk and the humbleness of the tiny anecdotes contributed to establish a true connection to it.

To conclude with an anecdote, on occasion our Skye trip Seoras Macpherson mentioned that most of the stories he knows were told to him by his father. This may naively sound like a natural and straightforward process, but what Seoras also told us was that his father would tell a story only the very moment he expressed the interest in knowing it.
This can only reminds us how being curious as well as a good listener are vital elements of preserving traditions as well as the basis for being able to pass them on through storytelling.

The Gaelic name of the isle of Skye is Eilean a' Cheò, which means Island of the Mist.

The bay of Loch Pooltiel witnessed many events, including spotting a couple of killer whales.
The story walk begins.

Flat top hills. The legend tells that the giants and little people of Glendale made them flat and they were called Sealbh mhor & Sealbh Beag (greater and lesser charmed mountains). Much later they were renamed MacLeods Tables .

This is the Bog Myrtle. It has healing powers and it also has the ability of keeping midges away...for at least 30 minutes!

Seoras Macpherson holds the flower called Blar Bhreacan Phuil. The story tells how the stone of destiny was brought to Scotland by St. Andrew, the flower being only in Glendale whilst the stone went to Dunadd.

Friday 14 March 2014

Seeing Stories - The journey begins in Florence

In June 2013 all partners met in Florence for the very first time and attended the kick-off meeting of the project, hosted by Chille de la Balanza in their venue in San Salvi.
The overwhelming beauty of this city with so many stories to tell represented an ideal set for our discussions and was truly inspirational.
The meeting was lively and intense, covering both the practical side of how to properly administer the project as well as how to develop its creative content. By the end of the day some decisions were taken and many ideas were thriving.

Exceptional finale of such an exceptional day was offered by the storyteller Giovanna Conforto - associated partner with Associazione Gruppo Le Falene - who generously hosted an informal partners' gathering in her house at the heart of Florence.

The following day we all explored the city and kept on discussing and nurturing ideas.

The journey begins and we are ready to start.

Seeing Stories people
The journey begins....