Funding boost for ambitious arts hub

Arts and nature can be used as a tool to make communities stronger. A new research arts hub on Mull is working on finding ways to make this happen.

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An experimental arts hub on the Ross of Mull has won 12 months of funding to help save the planet.

Artists Miek Zwamborn and Rutger Emmelkamp moved from the Netherlands five years ago and live and work at the project based in the tiny settlement of Knockvologan just outside Fionnphort.

Thanks to financial backing from Creative Scotland, this month sees the start of their NOWHERE – NOW project inviting other artists and creatives over the next year to come and share their talents and skills to shape a sustainable way of life that could benefit nature, land and humans.

As well as artist residencies, the project will provide a space for gatherings, workshops and exhibitions, a permaculture garden and a land re-wilding scheme at Tireragan.

Rutger, a former professor of art in Amsterdam, believes bringing together art, design, literature, nature studies, gardening, foraging and cooking can build up resilience and bring balance back to what is an unsettling world.

‘It could help us restore part of the communal whole; humans, animals and plants,’ he said.

The Creative Scotland grant will help Rutger and Miek lay the foundations of a research base investigating ways arts can contribute to burning issues globally and closer to home. ‘It is an art programme with a socially engaged characteristic,’ he said.

‘It’s about dreaming and sketching a better more sustainable and durable future that we would love to be in. We are still newcomers on Mull, learning about living here. Locals know better but fresh eyes can be helpful and that’s what we are trying to be,’ added Rutger.

The first residency will be London craftsperson and bushcraft master Caroline Ross who will be working alongside Miek to try and make hand-made ink and paper from seaweed to create pieces of art.

Others future residencies will include Japanese artist and chef Hisashi Shibata, currently living in the Netherlands, and will end with a concert led by a Dutch composer.

There will be open Sunday events throughout the year when the public will be invited to visit and take part in workshops, watch film screenings, join in discussions or enjoy musical performances.

The first open event to introduce the project was on Sunday June 6.

Caption: Arts and nature can be used as a tool to make communities stronger. A new research arts hub on Mull is working on finding ways to make this happen.