About Me

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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Recognition At Last for The Two Roberts

Robert MacBryde & Robert Colquhoun in Regent Street, London, early 50s. Baron Collection. Hulton Archive

The Two Roberts: Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two), 73 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DE, 0131 624 6200 Admission £8/6 

This review appeared in The Herald newspaper's Arts supplement on 29th November 2014
©Jan Patience

ROBERT Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde were two working class lads from Ayrshire who enrolled at Glasgow School of Art (GSA) on the same day in September, 1933. 

After a couple of months travelling up and down to their respective homes in Kilmarnock and Maybole each day by steam train, The Two Roberts, as they were quickly dubbed, found digs together in Glasgow. They quickly become a couple with a fiery relationship that, despite social mores and legal restrictions of the day, was neither hidden nor denied.

This partnership lasted for three decades until Colquhoun’s death at the age of 47 in 1962.

Robert Colquhoun was tall, dark and handsome; attractive (and it is said attracted) to both men and women, with a tendency to drift back and forth into cycles of depression. A natural foil, Robert MacBryde’s innate gaiety drew fellow artists and writers into their circle, like moths to a flame.

Both were widely considered by their peers at GSA to be the most talented artists of their generation.
Scotland was never going to be big enough for the Roberts and in 1941, both having been deemed unfit for active service, they moved to London. There, they found themselves at the centre of a Bohemia of their own making, counting among Soho drinking cronies; artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Keith Vaughan, and John Craxton, as well as poets, Dylan Thomas and George Barker.

Throughout the early 1940s, they found inspiration for their art in the devastation around war-torn London and, in contrast, the countryside beyond. MacBryde, with his eye trained on the main chance, quickly developed a market for their paintings, which in the early years of the war were influenced by the Neo-Romanticism style of lyrical landscape painting as typified by Graham Sutherland and John Piper.

In 1943, the Roberts met Polish artist, Jankel Adler, a friend of Picasso and Paul Klee, who encouraged them to paint from memory and to examine their Scottish and Celtic roots.

Adler also had an interest in texture and his post-Cubist predilection for dividing objects into patterned forms inside a black grid – almost like stained glass – was much emulated by MacBryde. Adler’s favourite subjects; cats birdcages and beggars on crutches also found their way into both Roberts’ work.

By 1946, Colquhoun was being described in influential BBC periodical, The Listener, as the ‘most promising painter England [sic] has produced for a long time,’ while Vogue declared them ‘Tomorrow’s Names’ in the same breath as theatre director, Peter Brook, artist, John Minton and Joy of Sex author, Alex Comfort. The British Council, the Contemporary Art Society and The Museum of Modern Art in New York all acquired their work.

Although it makes for a good story, The Golden Boys legend, which saw the Roberts go from bright young things to dissolute alcoholics in the space of two decades, has done them a disservice by turning two painters who were deadly serious about their work into a caricature.

This exhibition places it all in context, while revealing the sheer magnetism, energy and originality which lies beneath their work.

Beautifully curated by Patrick Elliot, it features 60 paintings, 70 drawings and monotypes, and an array of photographs and personal papers. 

The perceived wisdom is that Colquhoun was the better painter, but looking at the work displayed here, it’s clear both men were on a level playing field.

It’s interesting to see unresolved works here, such as Colquhoun’s The Lock Gate (1942) and MacBryde’s Farmhouse (1941), which both toy with Neo-Romanticism. In figurative paintings such as Encounter (1942) and Thea Neu (1943), the influence of Wyndham Lewis is clear on Colquhoun.

Stand-out work includes paintings and monotypes (a painterly printing technique Colquhoun learned from Adler) dating from 1944 through to around 1951. During this period, the Roberts shake off war-time drabness in their approach to colour and start to experiment with texture. In Colquhoun’s case, his figurative work takes on a darkness, which bubbles up from within a painting. Works such as The Performer (1947), are fused throughout with a warm zingy palette. 

Colquhoun’s figures are usually pictured in pairs from the waist up, with meaty hands floating mid-air and heads tilted to the side. All angles and angst, much of it autobiographical. Perhaps in a nod to his bisexuality, in his painting, The Lovers (1947), the MacBryde ‘figure’ has morphed into a woman.

MacBryde’s preoccupation was always domestic; still lifes, like Still Life with Cucumber (1948), are lush and acidic with a soupcon of priapic tension in phallic fruit and vegetables nestling side-by-side.

Performing Clown (1946) shows MacBryde is comfortable with figures too although there’s sadness in the autobiographical nature of this work. 

Colquhoun was a near-genius at creating monotypes. Two Irish Women (1946), is on shown in a small section devoted to works he made following a trip to rural Ireland with MacBryde.

In this stunning version of a not-so-hot 1958 painting, Women in Ireland, (not on show here), two totem-like women are wreathed in blue-black shawls. The sootiness surrounding the figures reveal Colquhoun on fire with the innate possibilities of the figure and teasing out texture. 

In 1951, with their fame receding as buyers’ and gallery owners’ attention turned to the US and abstract expressionism, the Roberts moved to the Essex countryside, where in exchange for looking after George Barker and his partner, writer, Elizabeth Smart’s’ four children, they received free bed and board.
They enjoyed success at the end of 1951 with a commission to create collaborative designs for a new ballet at the Royal Opera House, but gradually, their lives spiralled into a haze of alcohol-induced penury and homelessness. 
As you walk into the last room on the ground floor of Modern Two, filled with late work, you hear an almost musical Scots voice talking about how he loves the ‘citrrrrussssy’ nature of a lemon. Suddenly, 48 years after he was killed by hit-and-run driver on a Dublin street while he danced a jig, MacBryde is before your very eyes.
He is followed by the darker presence of Colquhoun, telling you that artists convince themselves ‘everything is going fine but at the back of your mind, something is fundamentally wrong.’
This 10-minute-long  black and white film made by Ken Russell for the BBC Monitor series in 1959 is a gift.
It’s when you round the corner to be met with the series of monotypes in white, black and red, which Colquhoun was working on when he died in MacBryde’s arms three years later, that you begin to get a cumulative sense of what the Roberts were really about.

Not before time.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Our Friends in the #XpoNorth

Musician & broadcaster, Roddy Hart, at last year's festival 


Scotland’s leading creative industries convention is to take on a new name in 2015.

XpoNorth will pick up the reins from popular annual Inverness-based creative industries festival, goNORTH, in June next year. 

The re-branded festival will take place on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th June, 2015, in venues across the Highland capital.

A creative melting pot devoted to crafts, publishing, screen and broadcast as well as music, XpoNorth 2015 will be attended by leading creative industry insiders, who will take part in workshops and masterclass sessions over the course of both days.

Like its predecessor, XpoNorth is free for the public to attend. It will include the influential new music showcase, which sees music stars of tomorrow take to stages across Inverness on both nights of the festival, as well as the prestigious XpoNorth film showcasing programme, now a key platform for emerging film and documentary makers looking to make their mark in a fiercely competitive arena.

XpoNorth, is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the European Regional Development  Fund (ERDF) and is headed up by former BBC drama producer, Amanda Millen.

Millen, a fluent Gaelic speaker and native of Lochaber, said: “This is a very exciting development for the creative industries in Scotland. The original festival started out in 2000 as a platform for musicians from the north of Scotland to be heard by the wider music industry in the Highlands.

XpoNorth has since grown and developed into a unique and much-anticipated event in Scotland's cultural calendar. In 2014, more than 1300 people working in a wide cross-section of creative genres, attended the festival in Inverness, compared to just 500 people in 2011. 

“Rebranding as XpoNorth offers us the ideal opportunity to tell the world what we do and what we are all about. The new name reflects XpoNorth’s broad scope across the creative industries. 

“Since 2007, we have been building the screen and broadcast elements of the festival and XpoNorth is now an unmissable event for anyone serious about forging a career in these fields. It’s been exciting for me personally to be able to screen films from around the world, as well as offering a platform for Highlands and Islands-based filmmakers to have their work seen.

In 2015, we’re expanding the open call for submissions and developing our curated programme in partnership with European film festivals. 

“In the last few years, the craft and publishing elements have added an exciting new dimension to XpoNorth, supporting some exciting emerging businesses in the fields of fashion and publishing. 

“Across the Highlands and Islands, there are some incredible success stories, such as fashion designers, Kirsteen Stewart and Catriona MacAllister, jewellers Gilly Langton and Eileen Gatt, as well as knitwear and textile designers, Hume Sweet Hume

“We will continue to bring leading industry players in the field of fashion, music, gaming, screen, broadcast and publishing to our daytime panels and workshops. Further details of the 2015 programme will be announced in January.”

Singer turned film director, Richard Jobson, who took part in an entertaining Q&A at last year’s festival describes XpoNorth as ‘the perfect platform to meet film-makers, musicians, designers and writers.’

The former frontman with Fife-based Punk band, The Skids, is currently working on two major film projects based in the Highlands and Islands, including a thriller set in the Cairngorms, called Helter Skelter. He describes his other film project is a ‘poetic meditation’ on North East-born writer Nan Shepherd’s classic book about The Cairngorms, The Living Mountain.

He said: “The informality and relaxed nature of XpoNorth in Inverness, makes it easy to get to know the people who are attending. 

“From casual meetings at the festival, I have enrolled young sound designers, camera technicians, and even a couple of actors into my next couple of projects, which are both set in the Highlands. I hope to continue my relationship with XpoNorth in both a creative and training basis, bringing all my experience and new ideas to the table. It's a special event in a special place.

The festival will cover four genres under the collective banner of XpoNorth

XpoNorth Crafts/Fashions/Textiles and XpoNorth Writing and Publishing 
Supported by Emergents, the network which co-ordinates HIE industry networks for craft, fashion and textiles as well as writing and publishing. It is managed by Pamela Conacher and Peter Urpeth, who both bring extensive experience in their respective fields of craft, fashion and textiles, and writing and publishing, to XpoNorth.

XpoNorth Screen and Broadcasting ScreenHI under the leadership of Amanda Millen, also director of XpoNorth, has been nurturing and developing the HIE’s Screen and Broadcast Industry Network for the last four years. ScreenHI will continue to do this under the new XpoNorth name, offering experiences, job opportunities and industry networking to businesses in the Highlands & Islands.

XpoNorth Music is managed by former goNORTH music producer Alex Smith with Ironworks Group directors, Robert Hicks and Caroline Campbell. It has been established as the new Music Industry Network for the Highlands and Islands and will be delivered by Ironworks Group. The 2014 festival showcase schedule in Inverness included much-lauded emerging artists such as Neon Waltz, Baby Strange, Ella The Bird, Hector Bizerk and Broken Records.


Twitter: @XpoNorth

For further info or interviews please contact Jan Patience on janpatience@me.com 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness...

McLean Museum & Art Gallery, 15 Kelly St, Greenock PA16 8JX
01475 715624
Saturday 22nd November – Saturday 20th December, 2014
Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm


AN archive created by artists and musicians who have been exploring the heritage of Scotland’s once-mighty sugar industry is set to be handed over to the people of Inverclyde.

Sugar Archive, which is currently on display at The McLean Museum and Art Gallery in Greenock represents the culmination of a year-long public art project chiefly inspired by the A-listed Sugar Sheds at James Watt Dock, Greenock.

The Absent Voices Sugar Archive is an actual and virtual collection featuring a range of mediums, from paintings to drawings, stained glass, photography, poetry, film, songs and soundscape. 

The archive, which includes a brand new poem reflecting the loss of the sugar industry by Scotland’s national poet, Liz Lochhead, and a short filmed soundtrack of the Sugar Sheds, called Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness, will be formally handed over to the McLean Gallery when the exhibition ends on 20th December.

Artists involved in the Absent Voices collective are: 
Alan Carlisle, Alastair Cook, Alec Galloway, Ryan King, Yvonne Lyon, Kevin McDermott, Anne Mckay & Rod Miller.

The exhibition highlights a broad range of work produced by the group as well as visual art, music and film-based imagery produced in collaboration with the wider community in Inverclyde. 

The sugar industry shut up shop in Greenock in the late 1990s after more than 300 years continuous operation in the town.

Lead artist in this Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) funded project, Alec Galloway, was inspired to create the project by his own family connections to the sugar industry in Greenock.

He said: “By focusing on the historic sugar sheds at James Watt Dock in Greenock, the artists have created a lasting archive of material for current and future generations to come.

“As well marking the importance of the sugar industry in Scotland, the archive shows a remarkable outpouring of creativity on the part of each and every artist involved.

“We have all been inspired and delighted by level of community participation in Absent Voices’ workshops and also the way in which the project has reached beyond Inverclyde. It’s been fantastic to see national figures such as Liz Lochhead, and fellow poet John Glenday get involved through the wonder of Alastair Cook’s innovative ongoing Filmpoem project.

“We worked with schools and community groups, conducted drawing and photography tours of the sugar sheds and songwriting workshops at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock.

“Through all these events, the level of interest in Absent Voices grew and grew. There was a real desire from the wider community to discover – or rediscover – the stories which surrounded sugar refining in Inverclyde. It re-enforced our feeling that it was important to create this archive.

“My family all worked in the sugar industry and it has been very moving for me personally to see this project unfold. One of the artworks I have created is a glasswork featuring my grandmother, Mary Galloway, who worked at The Glebe, a well-known sugar refining warehouse, in the 1920s. 

“I’ve also been working on glass-works relating to my great-grandfather, Alexander Cochrane, who was killed when Walker’s refinery in Greenock took a direct hit during the Greenock Blitz of 1941.”


ALASTAIR COOK Photography and filmmaking

During the summer of 2014, award-winning artist, Alastair Cook, was artist-in-residence at Dutch Gable House in Greenock as part of Absent Voices. He was commissioned to create four projects for Absent Voices: Every Memory, Everything We Have Ever Missed, McArthur’s Store and three new films for Filmpoem
He has also collected and curated the creative response to the sugar sheds in a new book, titled Absent Voices. This book shows the new work of a number of Absent Voices artists, alongside others who visited over the past year, with new poetry and writing by Scotland’s National poet, Liz Lochhead, as well as fellow Scots poets, John Glenday and Jim Carruth (Glasgow Poet Laureate), among others. The book will be available at the exhibition in the McLean Museum.
Throughout October 2014, Alastair exhibited Every Memory at The Beacon Arts, unveiling In order to win, you must expect to win, a new series of documentary and portrait photography with Greenock Boxing Club, alongside new large format photography for Absent Voices. 
From September until November, he exhibited Everything We Have Ever Missed at Dutch Gable House, showing large format print photography for a book with accompanying work by poet, John Glenday. 
Alastair produced double exposure photographs made using 35mm film: there is no digital trickery, the film is sent through the camera twice, hiding the resulting images until processing. All this work was made in the Sugar Sheds; working with the poet in Greenock over a period of months. Limited numbers of the book will be available as part of the exhibition.
To reflect Greenock’s origins as a fishing village, Alastair is also exhibiting McArthur’s Store at 6Art in Greenock, running concurrently with the Sugar Archive exhibition at the nearby McLean Museum. McArthur’s Store is a series of wet plate collodion tintype portraits of fishermen who work from McArthur’s Store, a creel store on the Old Harbour in the small east coast fishing town of Dunbar. This photographic process dates from 1851 and was used until the 1880s. 
Alastair was also commissioned to make three new films for Absent Voices: Alba, Greed and The Fishermen and the Weather Wife. These films will screen in Greenock at a special event to be announced.
ALEC GALLOWAY Glass artist and painter

Greenock-born Alec has a deep family connection with the sugar industry in his home town. An award-winning stained glass artist and lecturer in architectural glass, most of his glass creations develop from ideas taken from sketches and observational drawing. As part of Absent Voices he has looked at how the craft of traditional stained glass has declined as an expressive art form and contrasts the profile of stained glass in the 21st century with Victorian Scotland when the art form flourished. 
Alec hosted stained-glass workshops in Greenock in which participants were taken on an historical journey to observe windows in the town made by the finest exponents of the art-form; including Edward Burne Jones, William Morris and Gabriel Rossetti. His hands-on workshops went on to explore traditional glass painting techniques, with students creating their own works in the spirit of those important artists.
He has also explored his own personal links to the sugar industry which employed most of his family from the 1900s onwards. This included researching the story of his great grandfather’s death while working at the Walkers refinery on the night of May 4th 1941 when Clydeside was targeted by German bombers during the blitz.
Alec has unearthed images and stories relating to this incident and produced a very personal body of work  exploring themes linked to both family and the wider sugar trade.
As well as creating works in glass and paintings, he has projected images shown directly on the interior walls of the sugar shed building.

Alan and Ryan, who play in The Alphabetical Order Orchestra together, began working on a soundscape for Absent Voices at the beginning of 2013. Focusing on the community, history and the trade that connects them, they set out to give the Sugar Sheds ‘a voice’. 

Using the sounds of the building, the rhythms of the trade and lives of the people who passed through the doors (including Ryan’s grandfather, Jim King, who worked at the sheds), they have researched the sounds the building makes. 

Ryan says: “We’ve taken sounds we've bounced around its walls and recorded them. We've interviewed and collected interviews with members of the community, and had discussions to understand what life was like around the dock and in the sugar trade. We enlisted the help of sound engineer and musician, Jim Lang, and another member of our band, Gary Deveney. 

Together we formed an experimental and exciting group approach to writing and recording. We have recorded music in the studio and taken it to the Sheds and sent it out into the building and re-recorded it, used fusions of Caribbean and Celtic rhythms, and evoking moods and atmosphere though sound. Ultimately we hope to encapsulate the sound of the sheds to record the past, present and future of the building as a soundtrack, giving it a voice.”

YVONNE LYON Singer and songwriter

Greenock-based singer-songwriter, musician and teacher, Yvonne, has been busy writing new material based around the sugar industry while encouraging aspiring songwriters of all ages to make and create their own songs.
Together with Anne Mckay and Kevin McDermott, she took part in a series of workshops with P5/6 at Whinhill Primary in Greenock throughout March/April 2014. The theme was The Folk Of The Sheds, bringing characters that would have worked in there in 1900s to life through songwriting and visual art. 
She said: “We have been encouraging imagination as a form of learning about the history of the sheds and touching on subjects such as the slave trade, trade triangle, working songs and folk songs of Africa, Scotland and the Caribbean. To date, five original songs, incorporating English, Gaelic and Scots have now been recorded with the P5/6’s as featured singers.”
The children also showcased their songs at an Absent Voices pop up event at the Beacon to resounding success. 
In collaboration with fellow AV artist, Alastair Cook, Yvonne composed a Filmpoem score to poems by Angela Readman. 
She hosted songwriting workshops for the community throughout September to encourage songwriting as a form of uncovering stories related to the sugar industry; looking at working songs, slave songs, folk songs as forms from which to write. Compositions are also being recorded to form part of the archived work.
KEVIN MCDERMOTT Singer and songwriter

Born and raised in Maryhill, Glasgow, Kevin started working life as an apprentice with Yarrow Shipbuilders before signing to Island Records and going on to forge a successful career as a musician with his band, The Kevin McDermott Orchestra, and as a solo artist. His anthemic Voices (from 2008 album, Wise to the Fade) has become the theme song for Absent Voices as the year of creating the Sugar Archive progressed.

Currently working on an album of songs which draw inspiration from the global reach of the sugar industry, Kevin has played several gigs this year, including one with Pretenders guitarist, Robbie McIntosh as part of Celtic Connections 2014 in Glasgow, and at The Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock.

He has also performed at two primary schools, Whinhill and All Saints, both based in Greenock. At Whinhill, Kevin took part in songwriting workshops with fellow Absent Voices artist, Yvonne Lyon and Anne Mckay, while at All Saints, he was involved in a sugar inspired project which saw the pupils making ‘sugar loaves’ and creating murals. 


Gourock-based Anne has collaborated with various community groups in Inverclyde, ranging from primary-aged children to the elderly. 

Working with All Saints and Whinhill Primary Schools, through drawing and painting, children produced murals and 3d sugar loaves, investigating their heritage, through images and by looking at artists, Stanley Spencer and Joan Eardley, and depicting scenes relating to the sugar industry. 

Together with with fellow AV members, Yvonne Lyon (and guest Kevin McDermott), the Whinhill project incorporated music and art as a means of describing the Folk of the Sugar Sheds.

Anne lead a number of Walking Drawing Tours of the Sugar Sheds with Rod Miller as well as hosting figure drawing, portrait classes at the McLean Museum, using their exhibition as source material.

Mural workshops were undertaken with Your Voices Community Care in Greenock. This group included middle-aged to elderly locals who have bee dealing with such issues as depression. 

Anne also interviewed and drew 100-year-old Bertie, who worked in the sugar sheds as a boy. In her own own work for Sugar Archive, Anne is considering those who worked in the sugar industry and the processes involved in the refining process. Her work features the workers as spirits and their interaction with nature. She is also collaborating with poets,  who are writing poems based on her personal AV drawings.

ROD MILLER Painter and photographer

Together with fellow Absent Voices artist, Anne Mckay, Rod has worked with P6/7 pupils at All Saints PS in Greenock on a project in which the children made ‘sugar loaves’ from sugar paper and painted them with designs/stories/images. 

The inspiration for this was a series of talks which he delivered on the history of sugar from its initial discovery, ensuing world wide trade and its implications for slavery and the effect it had on our local town.

Anne Mckay and Rod also led Walking and Drawing Tours of the Sugar Sheds at James Watt Dock, together and then separately. On these tours, Rod gave a talk on the history of the building and challenged the participants to record the building using different drawing techniques such as thumbnail sketches, line drawing, shadow drawing and full detailed drawing using graphite and charcoal.

Rod also held figure drawing classes with models posed and dressed based on historic photographs of sugar refinery workers. Various drawing techniques were used including line drawing speed drawing, with attention to perspective and body proportions.

He also led photographic tours in and around the sheds.

Rod has been working on a series of oil paintings as his personal contribution to the Absent Voices archive. Influenced by his research into the history of sugar story, these paintings have a surrealist narrative which talks out the less-than-savoury aspects of the sugar story.

The A-listed red-brick and cast-iron former sugar warehouse sits alongside Greenock’s Titan Crane at James Watt Dock, Greenock. A local landmark with its distinctive zig-zag exterior, it not been used for sugar-making since the 1960s. 

Prince Charles is a known supporter of retaining it and even visited the building in 2002 to add his voice to a campaign to save it from demolition.
Despite several attempt to demolish it, and a fire which almost destroyed it in 2006, it is now wind and watertight.

The building was used as a venue during the 2011 Tall Ships Race, which opened many eyes to its potential as a space which could be used for public events. It was also used during part of Glasgow2014, the celebration of culture which ran alongside The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year.
Built between 1882 and 1886 to designs by Walter Kinipple, the 700-ft long sugar warehouse was constructed in four red-brick sections with arches and pilasters in yellow brick. 
It is recognised as an example of early industrial architecture, with an unusual feature of a colonnade of cast iron columns forming a sheltered unloading area next to the quayside. Currently owned by Clydeport, the warehouse operates as a storage facility in tandem with the James Watt Dock Marina.
Absent Voices is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Inverclyde Council and Riverside Inverclyde.
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in Scotland, said:
“The sugar sheds of Greenock are a symbol of the central role the town once played in the world’s sugar industry, an industry which brought with it jobs, housing and economic prosperity. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to be part of a project which brings the community together to explore, record and celebrate this important industrial heritage and the legacy that it leaves in the town today.”

Trade began between Greenock and the sugar exporting colonies of the West Indies around the early 1730s, but very little of what was imported stayed within the area. Glasgow had been refining sugar since the 1660s, and so much of what was brought ashore at Greenock and Port Glasgow was shipped up river by cart. 
It is possible that there were a number of small refining industries operating in the area at this time. However, the first commercial refinery was not established in Greenock until 1765, at the foot of Sugar House Lane, close to where the Oak mall now stands. It was built by Mr Mark Kuhl, and employed just a handful of men. Other refineries quickly followed and by the 1820s there were at least eight operating in the area. 
By the 1870s, there were 14 or 15 large refineries in operation, producing a quarter of a million tons annually and employing thousands. At this time, there was no town in the Empire, outside of London, carrying out the trade so extensively and Greenock earned the title of Sugaropolis, sugar capital of Scotland.
The sugar industry in Greenock came to an end when sugar giant, Tate & Lyle, closed its Westburn Refinery in 1997.


Friday, 31 October 2014

Opportunities for Creative West Highland Bees

I am the media point of contact for ScreenHI, a fantastic organisation which develops screen and broadcast industries in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Screen HI is currently delivering a six-month long programme of events for Honeycomb - Creative Works, a new EU-funded initiative aimed at helping would-be creative entrepreneurs across the western seaboard of Scotland.
ScreenHI is headed by the dynamic Amanda Millen, a former BBC Scotland drama producer and Highland lass who is passionate about developing talent in her native land. There are lots of opportunities afoot. So stay tuned...

Deadline for both awards - 17th November 2014

THE final round of Honey Pot seed fund was launched last week. This is available to networks throughout in the Honeycomb – Creative Works network of Lochaber, Skye, and Lochalsh, Argyll and Bute. (Honeycomb also covers Arran & Cumbrae, North Ayrshire mainland, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway and the six southern border counties of the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland). The fund has also been opened up to applications from the Western Isles.  A great opportunity to get your idea or project up and running, we particularly would like to see this pot of money, potentially £50,000, spent in Scotland.  
The Create Award is targeted at existing ideas/projects that require additional support to take them to the next level - the Proof of Concept. Create is designed to help digital content freelancers or companies to further establish the commercial potential of a concept and fully develop and test their ideas. Eligible projects could receive up to £5,000 in funding.

Captivate Award will support collaborations between the creative and other business sectors to apply digital content knowledge, skills and technologies for innovation focused projects.  Applications are now being invited from digital content freelancers or companies in the film and broadcast, music technologies, animation, games development or interactive media industries to collaborate with another business sector, other than the digital content sector e.g., Health, Tourism, Big Data. Eligible projects could receive up to £20,000 in funding.

Applications representing cross-border, cross-regional collaborations from within the eligible
INTERREG IVA Region are particularly welcome. Read the guidance notes and apply here for either or both of these awards.
19th & 20th November, Talla Mòr, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye
Trainer:  Christina Burnett, Wide Eye Pictures
THE Engine Room Pitch is a unique workshop, which takes place over two days providing a project development and pitching experience for documentary/factual filmmakers and producers seeking UK and international commissions and market intelligence.  Intense, friendly and practical, the Engine Room Pitch develops real projects and trailers, which are then presented to two commissioning editors for feedback.  It is also an exceptional networking opportunity too.

Created by leading international pitch trainer Christina Burnett of Wide Eye Pictures, the format has been delivered across the UK and Ireland and also in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.  Many successful films have been developed, some of which have been commissioned as a direct result of the workshops.

You can attend either as a pitcher with project, or as an observer.  To apply for either please send a ONE PAGE proposal for a doc/factual project and a CV (both in PDF format) 
to Amanda Millen. This course is FREE to attend.

All projects which are submitted by the deadline,
Wednesday 11th November 2014 by 5pm, will be considered and those which are selected to pitch will be notified in advance of the workshop.
25th & 26th November, Cairnbaan Hotel, Cairnbaan, By Lochgilphead, PA31 8SJ

Trainer:  Glynn Henderson, Action Media Safety
THIS is an accredited Health & Safety course that really is a must-attend for anyone working within the live events and television and film industries.  You will walk away with an industry recognised certification that is often required for working in production and live events.  The Production Safety Passport (PSP) is an industry-led scheme to support the mutual recognition of health and safety training in the Creative Media Industries.

Your Production Safety Passport is the record of your health and safety training at all the places you've worked and can be viewed online by employers to see what risk assessment and health and safety training you've already done.  From a moral and legal point of view this course will give you an awareness of the risks involved in the production industry as well as why and how we need to manage them.
Register now to attend this FREE course.
WE are planning future events for our networks on the west coast and would like to hear from the animating community. What can we do to support you and the development of your craft? 

We have good contacts in the industry and would like you to tell us what kind of events you want to see.  It could be anything from specific training, mentoring opportunities and networking events to developing business skills and commercial viability.

get in touch and help us brainstorm by telling us your ideas.
There are many more not-to-be-missed opportunities for you to develop your creative business in the coming months so stay tuned for updates. ScreenHI and Honeycomb are planning...
  • Sync and Copyright session for musicians with ThinkSync
  • Insurance and Legal session looking at the contractual issues faced in production
  • How To Guide to Live Streaming… 
Dates and details as soon as they are finalised.

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