Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Farewell and homecoming

A wave. A roll of the sea that emerges and evaporates like flashes of memories. Waving. A gesture of the hand to say farewell or welcome home. The two interpretations of waving, as a noun and as a verb, are intimately connected. People who sail the sea to fish, hunt whales, and emigrate are waved goodbye and welcomed back home. Voyages may be short or long. Sailors may return home or never turn back. Fisherman and their wives may wave at departure and homecoming. Whalers and their families do so when they embark on sea journeys of up to six months. The waving of emigrants when they turn their back to Scotland in search for fortune in the New World may be much more laden.

Jini Rawlings' exhibition WAVE/ING in Aberdeen Maritime Museum explores the connections of wave as a noun and as a verb. Inspired by journals of Aberdeen trawler skipper Alfred Craig of the 1940s and the journals of Elizabeth Jane Oswald of the 19th century, Rawling sailed to Iceland to film some of the places referred to in these writings and formulate her own response. She captured her experiences in three poetic video installations.

In response to this exhibition I will facilitate a workshop in which we explore traditional Scottish songs of farewell and homecoming of people who travel the seas to fish, hunt whales and emigrate. This drop-in singing workshop for families with children aged 8 and over, will take place in Aberdeen Maritime Museum on Wednesday 18 July from 2 to 4 pm. For more information, contact Aberdeen Maritime Museum at 01224 337700.

Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Warp and weft

During the past five centuries life in Dundee was geared by the weaving industry. The life stories of men and women formed the weft in the warp of time. In some respects, this fabric of life in Dundee has been different from that in other towns and cities. With the introduction of machine weaving during the Industrial Revolution, the lower wages for women meant that mill girls replaced men in the jute mills, their husbands now staying at home to look after the children. Being breadwinners gave women a voice. In the community music project Warp and Weft, I will work together with Dundee Heritage Trust to compose a piece of music for voice that relates the story of Dundee women, and that will be rehearsed and performed at a public event at Verdant Works on Saturday 27 October. This project, commissioned by Dundee Heritage Trust with money from Dundee’ Weaver Craft, will start with a memory sharing weekend to inform the story on which the composition will be based.

Dundee Heritage TrustThis memory sharing weekend will take place on 25 and 26 August at Verdant Works. Dundee women are encouraged to bring their daughters, granddaughters, mothers and grandmothers along to share their stories about the way the jute industry shaped their lives in the mills and at home. There will be a special exhibition to celebrate 500th anniversary of Dundee’ Weaver Craft and workshops that will explore the characteristic sounds of the jute mills, invite former mill girls to tell stories inspired by objects related to the mills, and share traditional Dundee weaving songs.

Links to other blogs on the Warp and Weft project:
Sound talk
The story in brief
Alternative voices
Singers and players wanted
Friday night

Still a young girl 
Higher wages
Among them
Earn a wage

Copyright text and image Petra Vergunst