Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul: Celebrating stories inspired by nature
A rich heritage of storytelling takes on new life around the country this summer when 100 stories born of nature and ‘grown’ in Scotland are given starring roles alongside the plants that inspired them. From St Columba to the Gruffalo, 1,500 years of tradition are celebrated in Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul, a one off event supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022 and presented at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and its Regional Gardens at Benmore, Argyll; Logan, Dumfries & Galloway and Dawyck, in the Scottish Borders from Friday, July 15.
Featuring well kent voices, including Emma Thompson and Tilda Swinton, alongside rising stars of the Scottish stage, Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul salutes what is good in the tradition of passing down stories through the generations, in English language, Gaelic and Scots, in prose, poetry and in song.
Works of local and national significance, historical pieces that resonate with 21st-century challenges and others written specifically for this project bring depth and richness to the offering. Whether the preference is for Asterix and caber tossing, a lost scene from the Wicker Man or evocative passages from Sunset Song, Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul promises something for everyone. Story Stations across each Garden provide places to hear, read and engage with the works on experiential journeys taken at the pace of individual visitors.
Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes at RBGE explained: “The range, depth and variety of this gathering of stories, inspired by the land and so many extraordinary plants, truly illustrates the range, depth and variety of Scottish storytelling. From Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame to Bondagers by Sue Glover, we think everyone will leave wanting more. Thanks to the Scottish Government for their funding, through EventScotland in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories, and to The Botanics Foundation for making Of Scotland’s Soil and Soul possible. We can’t wait to welcome visitors across the country to all four of our Regional Gardens to enjoy this unique experience.”
Among the audio stories will be the premieres of Windblown, Karine Polwart and Pippa Murphy’s moving ode to the Botanics’ famous sabal palm, felled a year ago, and India Alba’s musical celebration, commissioned to celebrate RBGE’s 350th anniversary in 2020.
Later in the summer, a series of newly commissioned music events will be available online. Featuring Rachel Sermanni, Hamish Hawk and Last Boy, they highlight the unique settings of Benmore, Logan and Dawyck Botanic Gardens through song, performance and spoken word.
Neil Gray, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development said: “This work by the Royal Botanic Garden, supported by £40,000 of Scottish Government funding through EventScotland, perfectly illustrates the diversity and wealth of stories – across multiple formats and genres - inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Events like these, right across Scotland, not only showcase Scotland’s literary and storytelling heritage but also that stories, old and new, can be enjoyed in all kinds of places and spaces.”
Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul runs from July 15 to October 15, during normal Garden opening hours and is free of charge at Edinburgh, with the usual admissions charges applying at the Benmore, Logan and Dawyck.
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