Chris Packham To Bring Out Nairn’s Wild Side In 15th Book And Arts Festival
19th June 2018
TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham is set to headline the 15th Nairn Book and Arts Festival (11th – 16th September), organisers announced today.
Packham, a passionate and often outspoken conservationist who is best known for his TV work on popular series such as Springwatch and The Really Wild Show will appear on the last day of the Festival, part of an ambitious line-up including the National Theatre of Scotland, Canadian country singer Tia McGraff, popular ensemble The Blueswater, former Edinburgh Poet Laureate Ron Butlin, award-winning poet Em Strang, authors Andrew Greig, Mick Herron and Gavin Francis, and one of Scotland’s most recognised faces - STV’s Senior News Reporter Mike Edwards.
Nairn’s High St will be a focal point, with arts company Wildbird lighting up first floor windows with images of local residents in Nairn Street Scene, and shops decorating their windows in festival colours.
The theme of health and creativity runs throughout the festival’s programme: historian, broadcaster and poet Dr Richard Barnett explores the illustration of disease, author Kate Ashton tells us the secret to her success as a former writer of romantic ‘doctor and nurse’ Mills and Boon tales, and there is an exploration of Eight Centuries of Healthcare in the Highlands, from the medieval Beaton kindred, to modern-day cutting edge technology being used in contemporary medical practice. Renaissance melancholy is the theme of Overcom with Heviness, presented by Musick Fyne Soloists with Coronach, and this year’s Nairn Open Exhibition theme, Darkness and Light, was inspired by David Thomson’s autobiographical tale, in which the author spends time recuperating in Nairn.
The National Theatre of Scotland returns to the festival, bringing the acclaimed play Eve, which premiered last year at Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, telling the story of a child raised as a boy, unhappily, who went on to become one of the Saltire Society’s 10 Outstanding Women in Scotland in 2017.
The music line-up sees the return of the very popular The Blueswater, this time in female guise with Queens of the Blues; Tia McGraff and partner Tommy Parham, with folk singer Corinna Keeling supporting; and Kathleen McInnes, Fiona Hunter, Mhairi Hall and Mike Vass present Crossing Points - a musical conversation between Scots and Gaelic - for the Festival’s now legendary night of traditional music, in conjunction with BLAS Festival.
This year the Festival presents the topical ‘Sipping with Spies’ - an afternoon of insight into the Secret Intelligence Service and lives lived in the shadows, with award -winning writers Mick Herron and Charles Cumming.
A strong poetry line-up will see Em Strang reading from Bird Woman, shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize – she will be joined by former Edinburgh Poet Laureate Ron Butlin and Whitbread Award-winning poet Diana Hendry. Ron is the Festival‘s roving poet, and will pop up at various venues during the week.
Mike Edwards discusses his book ‘The Road Home’, describing his journey to explore the many towns of Inverness across the United States, while the ever popular Andrew Greig reads from his prose and poetry work, with the occasional serenade on the banjo thrown in. Gaelic language events - Ruairidh Maclean discussing his political novel The Five Leaves of the Shamrock and Catriona Lexy Campbell on the creation of rave-reviewed theatre performance, Cѐilidh - will be simultaneously translated for non-Gaelic speakers.
Mary Helen Dewar, the new Chair of the Nairn Book and Arts Festival, commented: “This is the festival’s 15th year and we’re celebrating in style with some stellar events. In addition to the wonderful Chris Packham, and our collaboration with arts company Wildbird, we present some of the country’s best authors and poets, alongside some excellent local writers. Performance in many guises features strongly; I’m delighted that the National Theatre are returning to the Festival, joining superb musicians, and award winning poets, in taking the stage. We hope that our Open Exhibition will attract artists from across the Highlands. Kids’ Day is a packed day of free events for young people, and we’re bringing some excellent authors into the area’s schools. We’ve put together an ambitious and imaginative programme this year, made possible by essential funding from Creative Scotland and the Highland Council, together with many local sponsors - we’re very grateful for that support.”
Author Sam Derbyshire launches her new book Trust Me, I’m a Personal Trainer at the festival, and local writing group The Pen & I will read Festival Fables - stories for children - to be streamed nightly during the Festival on social media. The Festival’s Kids’ Day is on Saturday 15th September – with free activities for young people including a mystery to solve at the Museum, storytelling and storywriting, apple pressing and fruit tasting with Green Hive, and drama adventures and mini dance sessions.
The Festival choir, open to all adults to join and led this year by Mellow Yellow Creative Arts, will present songs from well known musicals, from The Greatest Showman to Sunshine on Leith, at the festival’s Finale on Sunday night.
Festival activities start from 1st September, when students from the Moray College UHI Fine Art course take part in the fifth New Highland Contemporary exhibition at Seamen’s Hall, joined by established artist Caroline Inkle who shows a snapshot of her work in KEEK space. Nairn artist John Wilson will show his work in Owls and Acrobats, a display at the United Reformed Church, while Awakenings, a series of photographic works by the Festival’s programme cover design artist, Hannah Laycock, will be displayed at Nairn Community and Arts Centre, and BAFTA shortlisted animator Claire Lamond returns with a curated series of animated films. Jewellery designer Melanie Muir will give an illustrated talk about the use of modern materials in Scottish jewellery design.
Other festival highlights:
Ian M Evans and Luanne Mayer – The Journey to Fiction, a talk on the theme of place in fiction, and So, You have a Story to Tell? creative writing workshop for beginners
Local writer and visual artist Andrea Turner and composer/musician Tom Richardson present Song of the River, a long form spoken word/theatre piece about the River Findhorn, while a reading of A Spirited Case by Nairn U3A highlights questionable goings-on in Nairn’s King St during WW1.
Photographer Hannah Laycock will discuss how the experience of living with multiple sclerosis is portrayed in her self-portraits.
In Wellness and You, local practitioners discuss alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy and mindfulness. Featuring Morven Sermon, Margot Henderson, Maureen Wilson and Elke Ambrose. Jane Duncan Rogers discusses end of life planning in Before I Go.
Tim Honnor, a festival favourite, returns to discuss the infamous Captain Bligh.
Artist workshops with Jonathan Shearer (painting), Claire Lamond (stop motion animation), Melanie Muir (jewellery) and Sula Grigg (ceramics)
Nairn Museum will show work by local artists
There will be a Festival Club every night with live music at the Bandstand Bar
Buster Keaton silent movie with Andy May live on keyboard
Teen music and poetry open mic event
Tia McGraff will read from her children’s book Jake the Road Dawg
Roving portrait artist William Mather will be carrying out 3 minute sketch portraits in various venues throughout the Festival week.
Roving poet Ron Butlin will pop up at various Nairn venues on Thursday and Friday, and at Kids’ Day on Saturday.
Pre-Festival events: A Chocolate and Whisky Tasting fundraising event on 22 June at the Braeval Hotel and Steel Magnolias by Nairn Drama in August..