Monday, 21 February 2011

Community music and arts to celebrate Culter Mills

On 12 and 13 February 2011 a collaborative community music and arts project between St Peter’s Heritage Trust, community musician Petra Vergunst and community artist Norma Hunter to commemorate the closure of Culter Mills 30 years ago culminated with a weekend of activities. The closure on 14 February 1981 meant the end of an era of papermaking in Peterculter. Eventually, Culter became a commuter village and many new inhabitants are little aware of the local history. The aim of the so-called Culter Mills Project was to celebrate the legacy of the papermill by bringing old and new residents of Peterculter together in a weekend of events. On Saturday 12 February a Chronicle Cafe was organised by Norma Hunter, on Sunday 13 February Petra Vergunst held a come-and-sing event.

Participants in the Chronicle Cafe
The song cycle The Horncall was written for this come-and-sing event by Petra Vergunst. The content of the three songs of The Horncall (Culter Burn, Together We Make Paper, and The Horncall) is inspired by the memories former mill employees shared during two workshops last autumn, information in the Heritage Centre, and the imagery in the work of local poets John Clark and Don Hills. The horncall symbolises the way the mill shaped the life of the mill employees and the wider community in Culter. With the closure of the mill, the horn was silenced. Yet, the banter between the angels from the overhaul and men from the instrument shop is alive as ever. The millsite has made way for housing, and the milldam may in the future well have a fishladder to allow salmon to swim upstream.

As a community music project, the composition process and come-and-sing event have been a means to bring people from St. Peter’s Heritage Trust, former mill employees, and the wider community together to look at how Culter paper mill has shaped Culter in the past and present, and explore how it may do so in the future. The Culter Mills commemorations have been a platform for people to meet as well as something to talk about – with family and friends, in the bus and pub. The project has thus been a means to increase people’s sense of belonging to Culter as both a community and place. 

To learn more about the Culter Mills project you may wish to look at:
The Horncall
Community music - music for communities
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Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst