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Health of the Sublime in the Mearns

Health of the Sublime in the Mearns is a new two year project making an interactive map online, in VR, and in real life of the lived experience of wellbeing and the sublime in the natural world and the threat to that posed by climate change. The project has received funding for year one from Creative Scotland. You can join block two of the five threads of tuition now! Learn more about the project and each course below.

About the project

I'm so excited. After more than a year of working on the application, Health of the Sublime in the Mearns has been awarded the funds to begin. It's a two year project making an interactive map online, in VR, and in real life of the lived experience of wellbeing and the sublime in the natural world and the threat to that posed by climate change. The project has received funding for year one from Creative Scotland. ​

 

Partner organisation

I've partnered with Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network (MCHLN) to bring a programme of arts activity to their clients, volunteers, and staff. The remit of MCHLN is to support the wellbeing of people age 50+ in Kincardineshire and the Mearns. Clients range in age from early 50s to early nineties. ​

 

Background

My experience of shielding and isolation from other people in the North and Highlands of Scotland for most of the past two years has mostly been spent in total sensory immersion in nature. Incremental changes in water, plants, animals, atmosphere, and most especially sound, highlighted gains made when humans drastically changed their behaviour, forced by Covid-19. I was without a usable studio for most of that time and was so fortunate to spend the first lockdown on a 13,000-acre, nearly human-less remote landscape in the Highlands. This experience has formatively changed my practice and life. I have since relocated to rural Aberdeenshire, surrounded by animals, birds, trees in a pastoral idyll. One that is being fast destroyed by frequent winds 40-50+ miles per hour and frequent storms completely decimating woodlands. The woods and mountains are where my experience of wellbeing is at its apex. I want to share this heightened experience of wellbeing in the natural world and bring focus to the threat to this experience climate change poses. And thus Health of the Sublime in the Mearns was born. ​

 

The project

Participants will be able to join five programmes of tuition. The creative activities give participants tools, skills, and heightened awareness to document their well-being experience through audio, video, writing, making, and for some, virtual reality. Some housebound clients will be given training in making their own immersive experience of the natural world in virtual reality as a basis for their documentation. An interactive map based in online and VR is made of these participant-generated artworks. This map informs my own new body of multi-disciplinary work in video, performance, virtual reality, sound, installation, and sculpture. I will develop site-specific artwork inspired by the lived experience of wellbeing and site-specific climate crisis threat to these participant decided sites. Performances, installations, and sound works will be inspired by, made with, and potentially participant-made, will further poetically articulate the lived experience of wellbeing from immersion in the natural world. Delivery of the programme largely piggybacks on current methods MCHLN has in place already to deliver services, with additional methods where needed. This year-long programme of creative activity will be offered to staff, volunteers, as well as clients of MCHLN, helping to achieve one of MCHLNs goals of providing more opportunities and well-being for their volunteers. ​

 

In the second year a new interactive overlay map, of the exact same area in the year one map, will show the direct threat from climate change to these specific sites of well-being with performances, video, and other artistic outcomes informed by data in map 1 and 2 as clickable links, immersive experiences, existing online, in VR, and a physical manifestation to be exhibited. ​

 

The aims

I hope through this project to foster skills to heighten awareness of wellbeing so clients can access those feelings more often, in the natural world and outwith it; to bring new means of connection between clients, staff, and volunteers of MCHLN and the wider community focusing on our individual and shared experiences of the world and our interdependence with each other and the planet; to empower each participant with respect for, to have confidence in, and value their distinct voice and experience by helping them hone multiple expressive skills, including self-critical assessment, as well as digital skills, and multiple methods of sharing that voice and experience with other participants and more widely. ​

 

Climate change is affecting the livelihoods of Mearns people now. This area is highly agricultural, has nearly 30 miles of coastline, forests, and mountains. It is hoped this project will lead to less impactful, wasteful, and carbon-heavy behaviours and activities in participants lives, and also larger organisations, companies, farms, and ideally governmental change.

 

Course information

 

All courses are free of charge. The courses run for seven-week blocks and we are just about to start block two. Don't worry if you can't make every session; no one did in block one! All courses led by interdisciplinary artist and project leader, Carrie Fertig, except for nature writing, led by award-winning author Janis Mackay. All of the courses are a safe supportive space to try something new or hone your skills. You are 50 years old or older, live in or near Kincardineshire, and are or are willing to become a client of Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network for the duration of this project, which costs nothing and has no obligations.

Nature Writing

 
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Courtesy Janis Mackay

Nature Writing

Meets on Zoom Mondays 2:30-4:30pm 5th September-17th October, 2022

Nature Writing is taught by award winning author Janis Mackay. She is a gentle, encouraging teacher, and deeply experienced in giving workshops. Each session has two exercises. We begin with a brief check in to see how we are all doing and then usually with a poem based in nature by a famous author layered on an image and take our inspiration and write for 10-15 minutes. Then we share what we wrote, and it is from this sharing that confidence and skills are built. Then we do the same with prose from a different famous author, and again write for 10-15 minutes, and again share. All sessions focus on your personal experience of nature, often recalling a recent walk you took, or perhaps something from long ago. Numbers are limited to ensure the safe, encouraging, treasured space that these sessions hold.

 

Video + Imagery

Video + Imagery

Meets in person Thursdays 2:30-4:30pm 8th September-20th October, 2022 in Stonehaven. Different location each week. Concentrates on making imagery as both practice and documentation of wellbeing in the natural world. We will shoot & edit video, make photos, drawings, and collage with natural and tradition materials.

Video and Imagery is taught by interdisciplinary artist Carrie Fertig, project leader of Health of the Sublime in the Mearns. She is an enthusiastic, encouraging teacher, and deeply experienced in giving workshops. All sessions focus on your personal experience of nature, and take place outdoors, unless weather is dreadful. Numbers are limited to ensure the safe, encouraging, treasured space that these sessions hold.

 

Audio

Audio

Meets in person Mondays 9:30-11:30am 5th September-17th October, 2022 in Stonehaven. Different location each week. Concentrates on making audio recordings as both practice and documentation of wellbeing in the natural world. We will make field recordings and learn how to edit them, layer them, and we have the opportunity to make podcasts for three radio stations, Mearns FM, and two with global reach in Glasgow.

Audio is taught by interdisciplinary artist Carrie Fertig, project leader of Health of the Sublime in the Mearns. She is an enthusiastic, encouraging teacher, and deeply experienced in giving workshops. All sessions focus on your personal experience of nature, and take place outdoors, unless weather is dreadful. Numbers are limited to ensure the safe, encouraging, treasured space that these sessions hold.

 

Art in Nature

Art in Nature

Meets in person Thursdays 9:30-11:30am 8th September-20th October, 2022 in Stonehaven. Different location each week. Art in Nature is the most interdisciplinary thread of the project. We might make temporary sculptures and installations in the landscape with natural materials we find there, interventions in the landscape by altering in a non-harmful way, the natural world around us. We might use sound, our bodies, and we will learn how to document our work and help each other to do so. We will learn about Land Art, Environmental Art, and build a supportive atmosphere to try out new things to highlight the wellbeing we get by being immersed in the natural world and what we want to preserve. Art in Nature is taught by interdisciplinary artist Carrie Fertig, project leader of Health of the Sublime in the Mearns. She is an enthusiastic, encouraging teacher, and deeply experienced in giving workshops. All sessions focus on your personal experience of nature, and take place outdoors, unless weather is dreadful. Numbers are limited to ensure the safe, encouraging, treasured space that these sessions hold. Click on the  buttons below for some examples by famous artists.

 

Sign up for Block 2 Health of the Sublime in the Mearns

You are invited to take part in a deep dive into your wellbeing. You can participate as much as you want or not at all. This project was made for you to find greater contentment, peace, stillness, to increase your creative abilities and confidence in your own voice and vision, to learn more about your environment, and the agency to protect it. By the end of the project you will be more connected to and more confident in the value of your place in your community. Your information will only be shared with Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network and will never be sold to any party, nor is this a sign up form for my newsletter. This form is only for sign up to a course on Health of the Sublime in the Mearns.

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Virtual Reality (VR) is a highly supported course available to largely housebound non-smokers. Please make another selection if this does not describe you. VR participants receive many one-to-one tuition sessions and are further supported with audio, video, drone footage, and scans as building blocks to build their own immersive experiences of the natural world. Learn more here: Virtual Reality

Thanks for applying to one of the courses! We'll get back to you very soon.

Your information will only be shared with MCHLN and will never be sold to any party, nor is this a sign up form for my newsletter.

This form is only for sign up to a course on Health of the Sublime in the Mearns.