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Highlands and Islands Enterprise Commission

This month saw the installation of the Caithness commission from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which is the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency. The MofBF (Museum of British Folklore), was delighted to take part in the Royal National Mòd festival and the museum's director, Simon Costin designed a piece of work which celebrated Gaelic Songs and poems from the area. It took the form of a gigantic open book, the pages of which were formed of six plasma screen's. A series of short shadow puppet films were made to illustrate the chosen texts. Costin says that, 'Many years ago I lived in an area of London called Bermondsey. My neighbour was an elderly woman called Jinty Gilmour. She was born on Orkney. Over endless cups of tea she would tell me about her childhood and one of the stories she told stayed with me. When quite young she and her sisters would make simple paper-cut characters and then, in the summer months, hang a sheet in front of a window and in the winter it would be set in front of the fire. They would then enact various traditional Scottish folk stories that they had been told by their Grandmother. The simple and immediate nature of shadow puppets has always appealed to me, as it is a form of visual story telling which anyone can perform'.

John Macleod, President of the An Comunn Gàidhealach, one of the oldest and most respected Gaelic organisations and founded in 1891, gave a speech at the unveiling on Oct 7th.

Steven Cooper, Sandra Murray, Simon Costin, John Macleod, Susan Purvis, Rachel Skene.

The museum would very much like to thank Steven Cooper for kindly loaning his shop front for the installation, Sandra Murray for getting Simon involved in the project in the first place and being the perfect hostess while staying in Inverness. Also John Macleod for his support and lastly Susan Purvis and Rachel Skene from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for all their support and organisational skills.

Once the Mòd has finished it is planned to tour the book to local schools and community centre's where children and adults will be encouraged to make films to illustrate their own stories and then show them on the book. The commission marks the start of 6 planned regional exhibitions and installations which will appear in 2011 across the UK.