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Highland Seashore festivals and creative arts competition for schools

5th February 2014

Photograph of Highland Seashore festivals and creative arts competition for schools

Lochalsh artist Paddy Luc's Kelpie appears on the Highland Seashore project festivals page to inspire entrants for the Schools Seashore Competition.

2014 will see communities and coastal regions across the Highlands have the chance to celebrate the history and unique environment of their shorelines through a number of festivals featuring music and art. Local school pupils will also have the opportunity to get creative, with a special competition using artwork, short stories and poetry to express various themes of the seashore.

The Highland Seashore Project was launched in February, 2013 and is a three year project aimed at encouraging understanding and appreciation of our delicate seashores, the life that depends on them and the impact the sea has had on Highland culture, heritage and the arts. It is run by The Highland Biodiversity Partnership and has been funded by The Highland Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Crown Estate Marine Stewardship Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Part of the Highland Seashore Project is to encourage local people to get involved in all things seashore whether it is natural history, the heritage of the coast or the impact of the seashore in local communities today. To this end the project is funding eight regional arts festivals covering the seven coastal regions of Caithness, Sutherland, Easter Ross, Wester Ross, Skye & Lochalsh, Lochaber, and Inverness & Nairn. Festivals will vary reflecting the local communities unique histories and heritage, but can include ceilidhs with local musicians, songs, poems, stories and artwork that have been inspired by the sea and coast.

Paddy Luc, an artist who has provided workshops at the 2013 Seashore Roadshows, said The Seashore project wants everyone to feel the benefit of what the project is aiming to do, stimulate a greater love for our coasts. The festivals can help those who know our shores well, share all of that experience with others who live and work around them.

The project will work closely with the Councils Countryside Rangers and with local community groups, arts trusts or local museums. To get involved or if your local community group or museum wants to work with the project on the festivals please go to the project web site at and go to the festivals page.

To start things off, the project is running a Schools Competition. There will be three categories: Artwork, Short Stories and Poetry. Each category will have three age classes (Primary 4-7, Secondary 1-3 and Secondary 4-6). Letters to all the coastal regional schools went out on the 20th January with instructions on how to enter. All local languages and dialects are encouraged and the competition is open to entrants exploring not only themes based on seashore natural history but also the marine folklore and history of their region.

There will be seven regional judging panels comprising a local Artist, Writer, Councillor, Ranger and Local Biodiversity Group Member. Prizes will be awarded for first (15 token), second (10 token) and third (5 token), and the winning entries (plus any additional highly commended entries) will be displayed in the Festival venues. To bring the festivals to a close the winning entries will be printed in a 'Book of the Highland Seashore'. Closing dates for entires will be the 30th of May, except for Lochaber which will be the 4th April with the festival scheduled for the 18th May as part of 'Wild Lochaber', the week long outdoor festival.

Janet Ullman, Highland Seashore Project Coordinator said This is where we can let our hair down and just wallow in nostalgia for the sea and shore, all those sunny memories of building sandcastles, finding your first beadlet anemone or your granny terrifying you with tales of malevolent kelpies can be fed in to the competition. The festivals are going to be community celebrations of the coast with artists, musicians and performers. There is so much local talent, let's get inspired by all things marine.

To find out more please contact Janet Ullman on janet[AT]

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