Project aims

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Imagining Natural Scotland seeks to encourage cross-sectoral engagement and knowledge exchange, among environmental historians, scientists, ecologists, artists (in the widest possible sense of the word), 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 how do they represent Natural Scotland in 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 creative producers, artists, writers and curators 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?

Project Elements

The project will begin in early 2013 with a series of information sessions and workshops around Scotland, presenting and discussing a range of different representations of Natural Scotland from the arts and popular culture, led by speakers from both cultural/curatorial and scientific/historical backgrounds.

The information sessions and workshops will be filmed and presented online, ensuring wide accessibility; further contributions to the material will be encouraged through blogs (etc). This online presence will grow and gather together the key themes and material of the project, and become an important creative hub in itself.

An open call for team proposals for a number of arts projects will be made at the workshops and online. Projects can focus on any aspect of the arts and popular culture, using media of the team’s choice including (but not exclusively) literature, graphic novels, film, fine arts, TV, drama, music, graphic design, interactive media, landscape design and performance arts.

We are seeking collaborative interdisciplinary projects (i.e. projects involving individuals from both cultural and ecological/scientific/historical backgrounds) that critically examine the relationship between ‘Natural Scotland’ and its cultural representations. Awards available for both small teams and community groups. Full details can be found on the Projects page

The workshops and the online presence will function to promote the call and to bring potential proposers together from different disciplines and sectors. Funding for the successful project proposals will be announced in the spring and early summer.

A major conference at St Andrews on 27 August will present, profile and discuss some of the project work in progress, and related work and research: speakers from arts, cultural and academic sectors will give TED-style presentations ( of their work and insights. Exhibitions, screenings (etc) will present some of the artworks.

A landmark publication will present the completed creative work and accompanying narratives to provide a visible and tangible record of the project and to promote further debate into the future.

It is also hoped that academics involved in the project will submit papers on the topic to academic journals.

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