Sound memorial to the fishermen of the East Neuk

The East Neuk Festival (ENF) has commissioned internationally acclaimed composer and sound artist, Scanner, to work with pupils of Waid Academy in Anstruther on its Big project for 2018.

Friday, 1st June 2018, 12:43 pm
Updated Friday, 1st June 2018, 12:46 pm

They will create a sound memorial for men of the East Neuk fishing industry lost at sea.

It will be performed on Thursday, June 28, at 6pm in Waid Academy, and then be installed at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.

No physical memorial to these men currently exists – something that retired local fisherman, Ronnie Hughes, is campaigning for.

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His mission to secure a monument in Pittenweem is the key inspiration behind this year’s Big Project.

ENF has partnered the Scottish Fisheries Museum and Waid Academy to create a memorial in sound which will draw on field recordings, marine hymns, oral histories and statistics and data about fatalities at sea.

Pupils from Waid are working with the composer, contributing their own recordings and ideas to the piece that will be given its final form by Scanner.

All proceeds from the premiere will go to the Pittenweem Fishermen’s Memorial Association fund for creating a sculptural memorial.

Scanner – British artist Robin Rimbaud – works in the world of sonic arts, producing theatre, concerts, installations, art and recordings that explore the terrain between sound and space.

He has created events all over the world – from an airport in Croatia to a morgue in Paris – and has collaborated with cutting edge musicians such as Laurie Anderson, Bryan Ferry and Michael Nyman, choreographers such as Wayne MacGregor and Russell Maliphant, and fashion designer Hussein Chalayan.

Commenting on The Big Project for ENF, Scanner said: “Many of my projects have tended to celebrate forgotten, invisible or overlooked aspects of the world we inhabit, in ways that embrace both the cultural and historical in a playful, engaging and thoughtful manner.

“As such this new commission is very appealing, encouraging a fuller appreciation of history of the area itself and to raise the profile through a newsworthy artwork.

“I believe that it will radiate with such important local history, and in so doing open up the imaginations of both young and old alike.

“I’m especially thrilled to be working in such a beautiful area of the country too!”

ENF’S Big Projects are annual commissions of new works by major artists who work with community musicians to reflect on themes of local importance.

In 2017 De Profundis celebrated Fife’s miners, while 2016’s Memorial Ground commemorated the men from the East Neuk who fell in World War I.

ENF Artistic Director Svend McEwan-Brown said: “Our Big Projects aim to create moving and captivating experiences for participants and audiences alike, drawing them together around themes inspired by the distinctive heritage and beauty of the East Neuk.

“None of it would be possible without the commitment and generosity of the many artists individuals who create the work and we are grateful to Waid Academy and The Scottish Fisheries Museum and Pittenweem Fishermen’s Memorial Association for their partnership this year.”

Jen Gordon, assistant curator of The Scottish Fisheries Museum, added: “Recognising the sacrifice fishermen have made in this high-risk profession has always been an important part of the story we tell.

“Addressing this issue in such a poignant and imaginative way (with the compositions and installation) is exactly the sort of interpretation the museum aspires to incorporate more of into our displays and future programming.

“We are equally delighted to be partnering with a festival which has done so much to enrich the cultural landscape of Fife, bringing new audiences to appreciate the unique heritage of this special corner of Scotland.

“To have observed the connections being made between the (at times tragic) humanity of the East Neuk fishing industry, the creative talents of Scanner and the festival production team and the raw response of local young people, then being asked to host part of the end product at our galleries has been a genuine privilege.”

While The Big Project is becoming an increasingly important trademark of ENF, the heart of the festival is still the superb chamber music concerts, talks and events arising from artistic partnerships with some of the world’s most celebrated musicians.

Over the years, the artistic relationships it has built with such artists as pianist/conductor Christian Zacharias, The Tallis Scholars, double bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, Elias String Quartet, fiddler Duncan Chisholm and soprano Mhairi Lawson, have deepened, and each time they return they bring something new and extraordinary.

Their events in this year’s programme are complemented by several ENF debuts, including star cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras who will play all of Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one Big Day of Bach, prize-winning young pianist Yeol Eum Son, lutenist Paula Chateauneuf, Turkish kemençe-player Derya Türkan, two of France’s top guitarists, Thibault Cauvin and Thibaut Garcia, and the array of notable young musicians at the ENF Retreat.

As ever, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra remains the touchstone of the festival and, following their big success last year, members of Fife’s Tullis Russell Mills band will give three rousing outdoor concerts for ‘Festivallaround’.