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Highland children show Scottish Parliament the Big Picture

Issued: 12 Jun 2007

Children from an Isle of Skye primary school will present their collaborative community art project to members of the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 12th June) at a reception held in Edinburgh.

The visual arts and performance project, titled "An Dealbh Mòr - The Big Picture" is a Gaelic/English production celebrating the Isle of Skye. The project was organised and run by the children of Lasair Ealain involving pupils and teachers at Bun-sgoil Shlèite - Sleat Primary School on the Isle of Skye in collaboration with leading artist Julie Brook and Kath MacLeod, An Tuireann (Arts Centre in Portree, Isle of Skye) Education Officer.

The project is the first major undertaking of Lasair Ealain (Gaelic for 'Blaze of Art') - a committee of school children from Sleat Primary School who helped raise £84,000 to fund the project.

Their long term aim is to set up and manage innovative, ambitious and exciting art projects in collaboration with professional artists of differing disciplines.

Minister for Culture and Gaelic Linda Fabiani said: "It's great to see our young people celebrating such a vital strand of our heritage, culture and language as part of their education. Everyone involved - especially the children - must be congratulated for their efforts in producing such an artwork as An Dealbh Mòr - The Big Picture.

"Schools can play a vital role in the regeneration of Gaelic and I look forward to seeing more of the benefits to local communities and to Scotland that come from projects like this."

Julie Brook, the Lead Artist said, " The desire to express ourselves creatively begins at an early age through drawing. At the heart of An Dealbh Mòr lies the steady rhythm of the working expeditions outside, over the first 7 months. The children's relationship with the landscape, and their response to it, grows. They are literally getting fitter. Their hand and eye are freer, their perceptions deeper."

Councillor Hamish Fraser, Chairman Highland Council Gaelic Committee said, this is an extraordinary visual arts performance project run by the young people, they are being inspired by the language, landscape, technology, environment both built and natural, transport services, and the residents of their own communities in the South end of Skye. Dealbh Mòr has left a rich legacy for Sleat."

Speaking at the event, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Chairman, Matthew MacIver said: "This is a wonderful project that brings together Gaelic education, community and culture. These are some of the main areas of the first National Plan for Gaelic that the Bòrd launched recently and it's imperative that we encourage projects like An Dealbh Mòr if we are to sustain and develop the Gaelic language in the months and years to come. Bòrd na Gàidhlig helped fund this project and I'm pleased to see today just how successful and inspiring it is."

In the organisation and running of An Dealbh Mòr, the pupils worked in collaboration with four artists to celebrate the landscape of South Skye. Between April and October 2005, the students went out every week around South Skye with artists Julie Brook, Kath MacLeod and Sarah Jane MacIntyre to draw the landscape from observation.

After that the children made large charcoal drawings and also worked in water colour. A very successful interim exhibition of these drawings and paintings was held at An Tuireann, Isle of Skye. Lasair Ealain then organised and ran a workshop to teach the public what they learned, which included taking them out for a day's drawing. This event was so popular that they have been asked to do it again. The students then began working on an enormous painting - the peak of this part of the art project - that was placed on the floor of the cafeteria area of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College in Skye.

Maggie Maxwell Head of Equalities, SAC said," This is such an excellent example of the best of contemporary art practice in visual arts and performing arts, linking with the Scottish Executives priorities in Gaelic and education. The sort of example you would hope that 'cultural entitlements' may lead to...."

Working in collaboration with movement director Clare Pencak, composer Piers Hellawell and the visual artists, the students performed on the painting with the audience looking from the balconies above. The performance explored the geological evolution of Skye, and included re-enacting the volcanic explosions that formed the Cuillin.

An Dealbh Mòr is supported by The Highland Council; Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Prògram Leader + nan Eiliean Siar, An Eilein Sgitheanaich is Loch Aillse Comhairle Ealain na h-Alba; An Tuireann; Comunn na Gàidhlig, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig; Urra Trèanaidh Telebhisean Gàidhlig; Determined to Succeed; and SEALL.

Lasair Ealain are touring their exhibition and a documentary of the project to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Portree, and Stornoway.

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme