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58° North - A Modern Pilgrimage around the Globe

12th January 2015

Photograph of 58° North - A Modern Pilgrimage around the Globe

This year, Timespan is setting out on a journey of discovery. At its heart is our own Northern identity and the ambition to learn from others who share the same latitude. We would like to invite you to join us on our Modern Pilgrimage.

We will be drawing a circle around the globe on the 58o latitude in search of creative communities that are located close to the sea with similar populations to Helmsdale in Sutherland. This is where our journey of discovery begins.

Travelling East we come to Borghaug and Lillesand in Norway, across the Baltic Sea we reach Häädemeste in Estonia. These three coastal villages share our Viking past and rich sea fishing and farming heritage. Our pilgrimage takes us across the Asian continent, and the Bering Sea to reach Hoonah, a city of 800 people in Alaska. From here we continue East to Churchill, on the south-west coast of Hudson Bay in Canada, where permafrost instills arctic conditions. Inuit populations settled at these two destinations, bringing with them rich artistic traditions. Churchill is also the place where the first migrants from Kildonan arrived in Winter 1813 after a four-week long treacherous journey across the Atlantic. Completing the circle, we arrive back in Scotland, at Lochinver. Its harbour, like Helmsdale's, was thriving during the herring boom and the temperate climate allows Palm Trees to grow on this latitude. A famous pie shop suits all culinary tastes.

By drawing this circle and looking North we position ourselves at the edge of a large part of our globe that lies outwith the common perception. With the aid of modern technology you will be able to come with us and visit these villages around the globe to meet our 58 latitude neighbours and share stories and experiences.

Currently, we are preparing for this Modern Pilgrimage by reflecting on our own place and its history, and by developing the technology that will enable us to travel around the globe, and back in time. We will be inviting artists from Norway, Estonia, Alaska and Canada to contextualise the journey.

To begin this exciting Modern Pilgrimage, we draw inspiration from St. Donan, a 6th century Irish missionary, who came north to Helmsdale on his own journey of discovery. He travelled far and wide on his quest to convert the native Picts to Christianity and set up a small church on the bank of the River Helmsdale. He gave the Parish of Kildonan its name.

His 1500 year legacy has survived in place names and stories. St Donan moved on after completing his missionary work in the area. From April 2015 we will also move on to begin our own pilgrimage of discovery around the globe.

Can we re-write our history? Can we position ourselves on the southern edge of North?

Join us in 2015 on an inspiring Modern Pilgrimage.