Those weeks in lockdown added to feeling that foraging is an idea whose time has come. For fresh air, for exercise, for general wellbeing, for nutrition, and for a clean fresh flavour, wild food that you gather yourself has so much to enjoy. We join forces with four mainland Scottish regions to present a varied mix of activities, including island outings, and walks along sections of the St Magnus Way, with chefs to advise us as well.
The sea runs through just about every aspect of life in Orkney, whether the winter gales leaving dried salt on the windows, or sparkling summer light on the water. For the Year of Coasts and Waters we have a varied mix of many aspects of the sea – of gale-lashed fishing vessels, of singing seals, of tidal turbines of today, of women who hear the music of the sea and women who build ships to sail on it. We also link up with islands worldwide in a special presentation of community developments in energy.
There is superconductivity to whalesong, Arctic seaweed and Galapagos seabirds, Svalbard’s seas and Colombia’s mountains. There is papermaking, orca sighting, beachcombing, the story of women in shipbuilding, and the boats of Hudson’s Bay … and much, much more in a very full programme of events with what we hope will be something for everyone.
Set off with us on an island visit – to Hoy and the sands of Rackwick, and to Graemsay and Sandside Bay, and wild plants along the way. At the Vintage Rally you can see some beautiful examples of vehicles and engines, and meet some of the people who have carried out labours of love on them.
Stories from science lead into a wide range of music to accompany events. There are composers from the 17th century, and composers of today. There’s music from the time when modern science was being formed, and music of today influenced by seal and whale song. And there is music from the North Atlantic, from Orkney and Shetland, and northwards to Iceland and Greenland.
Music and marine life come together in Message in a Bottle, with images and animation, around the theme of the sea and the life within it. Elsewhere in the programme, the old selkie legend provides an image of transformation, needed today to seek ways of creatively transforming the mass of litter on beaches into something beautiful.
Orkney’s Coasts and Waters is the theme of Orkney Camera Club’s exhibition for this year, with a fine range of scenes. There is an opportunity to see the sea breaking on North Ronaldsay shores with a retrospective exhibition of the work of the artist Ian Scott.
We’d particularly like to mention the Riches of the Shore workshops, with making brushes and pigments, seeing shore creatures and photographing seaweed. There’s also the workshop on learning to identify cetaceans – whales, porpoises and dolphins. Raymond Besant will have stories and pictures of marine mammals and seabirds around Orkney’s coasts. Michael Leach’s account of the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands will also be something for family viewing, with some beautiful images.