Imagining Natural Scotland | Creative Scotland

L - R: Big Willow by Patrick Doherty; Claire Cunningham (photo: Sven Hagolani)
L – R: Big Willow by Patrick Doherty; Claire Cunningham (photo: Sven Hagolani)

Imagining Natural Scotland is a major new interdisciplinary project for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013. Initiated by Creative Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of St Andrews, it will explore the interplay between the natural world and its representation, and promote deep collaboration and knowledge exchange between the creative and scientific sectors.

Significant funds are available for creative project work, leading towards a major international conference in St Andrews on 27 August 2013, and culminating in the publication of a landmark book about the project.

Creative Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, is now seeking proposals for collaborative interdisciplinary projects (i.e. projects involving individuals from both cultural and ecological/scientific/historical backgrounds).

Projects should take place during 2013, and should preferably be under way by August, to allow work-in-progress to be presented and discussed at the Imagining Natural Conference on 27 August 2013 at St Andrews University.

Collaborators will also be asked to reflect in writing on the experience of working in collaboration for inclusion on the Imagining Natural Scotland website as well as the planned Imaging Natural Scotland publication. It is also hoped that participation by academic team members may generate academic papers for relevant academic journals.

Two different award levels are on offer:

Small Team Projects

Awards of up to £6000 will be made to small inter-disciplinary teams. Teams must include at least one practitioner from any creative arts background and at least one practitioner with a background in the natural sciences or environmental history who will contribute to and reflect upon the project and collaborative process from a scientific and/or academic perspective.

Larger Team Projects
 
Awards of up to £10,000 will be made to larger projects, involving a similar team to that detailed above as well as working with a wider group or community (e.g. school group/s, students, local community, professional network, etc).

Project Themes

Projects can focus on any aspect of the arts and popular culture, using media of the team’s choice and should explore the following key questions:

  • How have the arts and popular culture represented natural Scotland, in the past and the present?
  • How do these artistic and cultural representations shape our responses to the natural world on an emotional, intellectual, social, public and environmental level?
  • What can we learn about the ‘real’ natural Scotland from these imagined environments? Can these representations provide useful evidence or insights for environmental historians and scientists?
  • What can artists and creative practitioners learn from ecologists, environmental scientists and historians?
  • What lessons can we learn from our responses to representations of natural Scotland for future policy and practice in environmental planning and management?

Information Sessions

Imagining Natural Scotland kicks off in March with a series of public information sessions to introduce the project, explain the funding guidelines, encourage debate, and provide an opportunity for creative and scientific practitioners to network and develop ideas.

Sessions will take place in Inverness, Oban, Dumfries, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh between March and April 2013. Full details including dates, venues, guest speakers and booking links will be posted on the Imagining Natural Scotland website as soon as they become available.

Each session will feature:

  • Detailed information on how to apply to the Imagining Natural Scotland fund.
  • A presentation, open discussion and Q&A on a particular aspect of Natural Scotland’s representation in the arts and popular culture; featuring guest speakers from both the environmental and creative sectors.
  • Time for networking and meeting potential collaborators.

The sessions will be also be filmed and presented on the Imagining Natural Scotland website for comment and reflection.

Application Criteria:

  • High quality of proposal and of creative activity.
  • Evidence of collaborative partnership across environmental and creative organisations or individuals.
  • Extent to which the proposed project meets the key aims and addresses the key questions of Imagining Natural Scotland (see below).
  • The extent to which the project takes account of environmental sustainability.
  • Evidence that you will document, monitor and evaluate your project appropriately.
  • Plans for sharing the learning from your project, in particular the commitment of project leads to present aspects of their work on the Imagining Natural Scotland website and at the conference in St Andrews.

Project Aims:

  • To promote cross-sectoral engagement and knowledge exchange, among environmental historians, scientists, ecologists, artists (in any artistic discipline), creative producers and curators.
  • To promote critical interest in artistic and cultural representations of natural Scotland, in academia, the cultural sector and in the wider community.
  • To increase the access of Scotland’s writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, curators and other creative practitioners to some of the insights into natural Scotland yielded by the natural and social sciences; and thereby to inspire their work in future.
  • To promote cross-sectoral connectivity and awareness, and to facilitate further cross-sectoral engagement beyond the lifetime of the project.

Key Questions:

Funded projects will explore creatively the following questions:

  • How have the arts and popular culture represented natural Scotland, in the past and the present?
  • How do these artistic and cultural representations shape our responses to the natural world on an emotional, intellectual, social, public and environmental level?
  • What can we learn about the ‘real’ natural Scotland from these ‘imagined’ environments? Can these representations provide useful evidence or insights for environmental historians and scientists?
  • What can artists and creative practitioners learn from ecologists, environmental scientists and historians?
  • What lessons can we learn from our responses to representations of natural Scotland for future policy and practice in environmental planning and management?

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