Sgeulachdan na Mara / Sea Stories - an online cultural map of the sea is based around the island of Barra, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The project explores the intimate relationship between people and place and seeks to make visible the rich cultural knowledge that exists in the seas around Barra. It has been developed in association with Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay (VABV) and involved school pupils interviewing local Barra fishermen and the older members of the community. The website was launched on Barra on Saturday 16th November 2013. The project received major funding in the form of a Creative Scotland ‘First In A Lifetime’ Award and additional funding from Comunn na Gàidhlig.
Sea Stories grew out of research undertaken by social ecologists Ruth Brennan and Iain MacKinnon and audio-visual material generated by artist Stephen Hurrel for the publication Dùthchas na Mara / Belonging to the Sea (Authors: MacKinnon and Brennan. Photographs: Hurrel). On the Gaelic speaking islands of Arranmore (Donegal, Ireland) and Barra (Outer Hebrides, Scotland) the fishermen believe that their livelihood and way of living is being threatened by powerful governmental forces who are not listening to them. In Barra, the dispute centres around two proposed marine Special Areas of Conservation designations while in the islands off Donegal (including Arranmore) the dispute is around the Irish moratorium on drift-net fishing for salmon. The publication was funded by Colmcille and was launched at the Clan MacNeil Gathering on Barra on 15 August 2012.
Clyde Reflections (33mins, HD Video, 2014) is a meditative, cinematic experience based on the marine environment of the Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland. The film features underwater and microscopic footage, combined with voice recordings of people who have a close relationship with, or specialist understanding of, the Firth of Clyde. These include a retired fisherman, a marine biologist, a diver, a marine conservationist, a spiritual leader and a physical oceanographer. The film premiered at CCA in November 2014 and was installed in the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow for six weeks in Summer of 2015. The project was funded by Imagining Natural Scotland, a Creative Scotland funded project during Year of Natural Scotland 2013.
Producing Seascapes (25:52mins, HD Video, 2016) sets out to explore how visions of coastal environments and seascapes differ between European, national, regional and municipal planners, as well as local people and visitors. In this case study, based around the Northern Bohuslän archipelago and coastal region on the west coast of Sweden, we wanted to find out to what extent the Swedish planning approach takes into account how people value their marine environment. This pilot project was developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Scotland and Sweden, consisting of art-science team Brennan and Hurrel from Scotland, working with Prof. Andrea Nightingale, University of Gothenburg and SLU Uppsala, and Linus Karlsson and Elina Anderson from the University of Gothenburg.