Speygrian Wild Connections: Tanera Mor

01 Aug

Last week I journeyed to the remote Scottish Island of Tanera Mor for a Speygrian Wild Connections course.

An informal course to help you to slow down, 

reconnect with nature and discover your creative potential

That’s what the leaflet said. So how did it go? An island with no roads (and no rabbits) seemed a perfect place to relax and unwind until I discovered there was no wi-fi. I KNOW, that should be a good thing but I was leaving at a busy time, threads were hanging unfinished and I’d taken my lap top with me, in the hope of getting a few of them tied up. I did my best with my phone, submitting interview questions, speaker information and a blog. And then, I resigned to the lack of digital connectivity and let go, a little…

In the first workshop I was slightly taken aback when asked to draw my soul. I looked around to see frantic scribbling, everyone else seemed to know exactly what their soul looked like, drawing it was easy. I thought, in an effort to let go I should have a go and when I did, well I quite enjoyed it, in fact I didn’t want to stop to do the next exercise. Here’s my soul, the middle bit is a mirror. I’ll leave you to interpret the rest.

As we began our week’s creative journey, we began to share our lives with one another. The oldest person on the course was almost 80, Betty Tindal.  A complete inspiration with bright eyes, Scotts poetry and bags of enthusiasm. The youngest person was in their twenties, Rosie who was over from the Mull and Iona Community. A wonderful mix, 15 in total.

Each day started with a meeting. Someone shared a thought for the day followed by practical information. There was a time for appreciations and time for suggestions for improvement. We then had the option of writing workshops with Author Christian McEwen. This was followed by a short book making exercise with Jan Kilpatrick. Then it was free time, groups went off to explore Tanera Mor‘s wild hills and lochs. Most came back in time for the art workshop that ran every day from 3 – 6pm. At 6ish it was time for Jean’s Tai Chi class (I had a go, I clicked lots and wasn’t very smooth) and at 7.30pm dinner was served (or a bit later depending on the meal and the skill of the cooks, we took it in turns). After dinner we sang songs or learnt a dance. It varied. There were days when some went kiaking, others went swimming. People continued their writing or artwork in their own time, it was up to the individual.

I enjoyed the variety of the art workshops, printing, fabric painting, book making, sculpture. All expertly demonstrated by Jan who doesn’t see herself as an expert, if a print comes out as a messy sploge, that’s fine, just print over it and make something beautiful later. This relaxed teaching technique put people at ease. Lessons learnt during printing became my thought for the day when it was my turn to facilitate the morning meeting. I talked about how life (like printing) is sometimes unexpected, it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to, it’s a mess but we’re to remember that nothing is wasted. The picture you continue to paint over the top is all the richer for the layer upon layer behind it, it incorporates the mess, the splodges and ends up beautiful. That’s what life is like to me (and printing too).

So finally, my highlights:

  • I came face to face with a Bonxie. The Great Skua, king of the seagulls and he almost hit me on the head several times as I filmed him, scary and exhilarating. I’ll blog the video soon
  • I had time to stop and take things slowly, no giant list of ‘to do’s’ like normal
  • I jumped off the pier into the freezing water and loved it (once I’d jumped). Thanks to those who persuaded me to jump and swam with me in the crystal clear water
  • I laughed lots, there were times when people were crying with laughter. It’s good to laugh
  • I had time to really look at the cotton grass. I filmed it, photographed it, wrote a poem about it, painted it onto fabric and printed its shadow using the sun. It was a pleasure to have the time to look that closely at something
  • I discovered Pablo Neruda‘s wonderful book of questions
  • I practiced my banana me beautiful fringe show to an audience of 15 and got written feedback from every person, really useful, thank you all!
  • I gazed upon layer upon layer of mountains and mist
  • I lino printed loads of banana slugs for my banana me beautiful fringe programme
  • Meals, I loved the meals, tasty food and great chat with a wonderful bunch of inspiring women

Speygrian is aimed at artists, scientist and outdoor educators. I first discovered Speygrian three years ago when I attended a Creative Connections course on the Island of Colonsay. I met some totally inspirational facilitators, Kenny Taylor and Gerry Cambridge. I wrote about that course and my facilitators (including a poem about them) here. I’ve also been along to some of the networking weekends, I wrote a bit about the last one (time travel, tepees and finding your element) here. The next networking weekend is in November and includes puppetry workshops with Creeping Toad. I’ve already booked my place, why not come along?


Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Education, Environment, Events, Writing


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4 responses to “Speygrian Wild Connections: Tanera Mor

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