World Storytelling Day, on Wednesday 20 March, will be marked in Edinburgh this year with inspiring events honouring one of Scotland’s finest contemporary storytellers, Andy Hunter, who was a pioneer for how storytelling can help navigate a world of climate and communication chaos by reconnecting to nature.
Re-Storying Our Planet follows Andy’s environmental journeys across Scotland and his evocation of ‘spirit of place’ through film and performance. The event brings together storytellers Alette Willis and Allison Galbraith, who connect four stories from their book Dancing with Trees, with specific locations on film.
Lizanne Henderson, cultural historian and expert in Scottish traditional beliefs, will respond to the theme, and further discussion will be led by filmmakers, Tracey Fearnehough and Holger Mohaupt.
The evening performance is preceded by afternoon workshop Mapping the Stories: People and Place, led by Alette and Allison.
On Saturday 23 March a further workshop Stepping Stones – Changemaking will explore how communities of people and place are formed through storytelling and sharing, led by storytellers Beth Cross and Alexander Mackenzie.
These events have been supported by Andy Hunter Bursaries, funded in memory of Andy Hunter who died in 2015, by his wife Anne Hunter. A further project exploring storytelling approaches for children on the autistic spectrum, led by storyteller Beth Hamilton-Cardus will begin in April.
Chief Executive of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS), Donald Smith states:
‘These projects and events reflect the flourishing state of live storytelling in Scotland. Grounded in millennia old traditions, Scottish storytellers are innovating to find new audiences and new ways to engage and create.’
The Andy Hunter Storytelling Bursaries are administered by TRACS with the support of the Scottish Storytelling Forum.
Andy combined his love of storytelling with his love of cycling to create ‘Storybikes’, a business that aimed to enable people to sustainably travel and explore, hear stories along the way and thereby have an impact on the participants and on the place. Andy believed strongly that by learning more about a place we could enhance our perception of it and likewise that places are changed by our being in them.
His concern for the earth and environment were pivotal to this idea. Travelling in a way that was sustainable i.e. predominantly cycling but also walking and travelling by train, enabled him to take time to see the world around him, to explore and to forage. Andy would often return from a trip with something he hadn’t set out with. Whether it be acorns to roast, grind and make acorn coffee with, Himalayan balsam to make syrup with, elderflowers or berries to make wine with or pieces of wood to make a fire or carve a spoon with, Andy augmented his storytelling with artefacts and lived knowledge of places.
This way of working allowed Andy to enrich his own and others experience and understanding, to go deeply into the landscape and to pay attention to detail, whether it be in a story or in a place.
Andy often quoted a stanza from the poem ‘A Southern Night’ by Matthew Arnold who lamented the increased pace of life in the words:
“And see all sights from pole to pole,
And glance, and nod, and bustle by,
And never once possess our soul
Before we die.”
By contrast, Andy’s philosophy was to take time for people, for places and for the many causes in which he believed. He saw that storytelling gave people a chance to be still, the opportunity to look, to listen and to discover the heart and history of place.
Mapping the Stories: People and Place
Wednesday 20 March, 2pm – 4.30pm | £16
Re-Storying Our Planet
Wednesday 20 March, 7pm – 9pm | £8
Stepping Stones – Changemaking
Saturday 23 March, 10.30am – 4.30pm | £24