The Origin: University of the Highlands and Islands

The Origin: University of the Highlands and Islands

24-25 June 2021

As part of Ben Judd’s Stanley Picker Fellowship project The Origin, a series of workshops, performances, talks and tours took place at Stanley Picker Gallery, a boat moored in Kingston Upon Thames and online throughout June and July 2021.

On 24 June, a short online programme of events was devised by Senior Lecturer Anna-Wendy Stevenson, featuring BA Applied Music and MA Music and the Environment students and graduates from the University of the Highlands and Islands. The programme highlights the development of innovative and world reaching university music courses led from an island context and included a talk, performances, a Gaelic singing workshop, and the premier of a short (7 min) film, Land of Our Kin.

24 June 2pm Talk by Anna Wendy Stevenson

Anna Wendy Stevenson gave an online talk about her work. Anna Wendy is Senior lecturer and Programme Leader for the University of the Highlands and Island’s innovative BA (Hons) Applied Music degree. A fiddler and composer, she has performed and delivered workshops in traditional Scottish music world-wide and curated and directed events for a wide range of organisations, communities, media groups and festivals in the UK, Canada, USA, Australia and Europe. 

24 June 2.30pm Film Screening & Gaelic Singing Workshop

Chloe Steele, UHI graduate and traditional Gaelic singer and piper from South Uist, screened Bann nam Baghasdal, a short film documentary capturing the unique culture and lifestyle in two townships in South Uist, Scotland and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Following this, Chloe taught us a traditional Gaelic song.

24 June 3.30pm Screening of Land of Our Kin

Land of Our Kin is a reflection on community and building communities online, across island, rural and urban contexts during Covid, through the delivery of a creative brief commissioning new music to celebrate Community Land Scotland’s 10-year anniversary. This case study is a beautiful examination of building resilience and togetherness among an internationally distributed, multi-genre music student cohort.  Beginning the academic year in the thick of the pandemic, the group topped and tailed the calendar with blogs for the University’s research theme ‘The Edge’ – starting with considering what being part of a community meant and how creativity would be employed to encourage collaboration within the widely spread cohort. Students collaborated to write and record a song ‘The Land of Our Kin’ and wrote the following blog capturing and reflecting on the process: The Edge: music, community & creativity – “The Edge”. The music was intended to be performed at Scottish Parliament, but unfortunately restrictions prevented this. However, such was the success of the final output, Community Land Scotland commissioned independent film maker Dave Tarvit to make a short film about this remarkable story which will be premiered during this online event to coincide with The Origin.

Ben Judd’s Stanley Picker Fellowship project The Origin reflects on Britain’s island status, both literal and metaphorical, and how islands shape the communities that live there. The Origin brings together the communities surrounding the Stanley Picker Gallery – from Kingston University students and academics to local networks, charities and residents – and asks them to imagine a classless, stateless, humane society based on common ownership. A temporary community, an experiment in living, a fictional island group. This collaborative project culminates this summer with an installation at the Gallery, a boat on the River Thames and a series of performances, workshops and events – a rehearsal for an alternative future.