About OISF Festival 2018

This was the year when the numbers took off further than ever. There were over 200 people to hear Rachel Dowse’s talk on starlings, and for the genetics day with Jim Wilson and his team, the Baptist Church was packed all day, with in addition a big turn out of people to hear afternoon talks running in parallel in the Town Hall.

Part of the increase was due to the number of groups coming. The talk on starlings was part of a collaboration with ASLE – the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment – who brought their biennial postgraduate conference to Orkney for the Festival. Prof. Jim Wilson brought his genetics team from Edinburgh to combine a study retreat and awayday with Festival presentations. Prof. Karim Labib did something similar with his research group from Dundee, and Prof. Alexander Lenz brought a mix of staff and postgraduate researchers from Durham.

Then there was the music, with the St Andrews New Music Ensemble putting on three concerts with a team of instrumentalists and singers, part of the university’s Music Planet series highlighting its strengths in music and environmental science. With musicians from Ireland as well, with local musicians and actors, there was a rich mix of music and dramatised lectures.

There were various opportunities to enjoy Orkney food and drink, at the opening lunch and at the afternoon tea at Skaill House, and at the daily lunches at the Peedie Kirk with the One O’Clock Toasts all highlighting notable Orkney women as we look forward to the publication later this year of the new edition of The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. We heard about the making of whisky and gin in Orkney and elsewhere in events organised by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

The Year of Young People 2018 provide the opportunity for so much, not only in varied events but also in the development of a new look for the Festival with the team of young people who emerged to chair and introduce all the events. Young people from Orkney and elsewhere were to the fore in various events, including reports on the progress of hydrogen technology for transport and on electricity generation from kites.

There was also the Heriot-Watt Year of the Sea and a range of events on marine life and resources. There was a workshop on seaweeds, limpets and barnacles, and a walk to the Brough of Deerness, to see wildlife and study microscopic plankton. There was a report on the Arctic permafrost and the story of Shackleton’s Antarctic journey.

And there were speakers and visitors from many places, across the UK and Scotland and travelling in from the North and South Isles of Orkney, and from many countries, from Ireland to Italy, Iceland to Uzbekistan, Slovenia to the Netherlands, Canada to Australia, Ghana to New Zealand.

All were warmly welcome, and made possible a memorable seven days in September

PROGRAMME 2018

YOYP 2018

The Year of Young People 2018 provide the opportunity for so much, not only in varied events but also in the development of a new look for the Festival with the team of young people who emerged to chair and introduce all the events. Young people from Orkney and elsewhere were to the fore in various events, including reports on the progress of hydrogen technology for transport and on electricity generation from kites.

MUSIC EVENTS

Then there was the music, with the St Andrews New Music Ensemble putting on three concerts with a team of instrumentalists and singers, part of the university’s Music Planet series highlighting its strengths in music and environmental science. With musicians from Ireland as well, with local musicians and actors, there was a rich mix of music and dramatised lectures.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM EVENTS 2018

One of the highlights was Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse (2001, Physiology/Medicine) in conversation with Dave Gray of BBC Radio Orkney. Another one was a dramatised lecture about the life of Paul Dirac, pioneer of quantum theory and arguably, in the title of the presentation, ‘The Strangest Man’. Dirac’s biographer, Dr Graham Farmelo, told the story, with David Sumner and Ragnhild Ljosland taking the parts of Dirac and his wife.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2018 FAMILY DAY

How far can a model car run on hydrogen? You start by connecting up the leads and seeing the hydrogen come bubbling up out of water – and oxygen too. And it was a day when you could make paper from natural materials, paint a 3D-printed butterfly or steer a Mars rover. You could learn to use an astronomical telescope, or make a cloud chamber and see particles from outer space.

Like the Corn Cut Down by the River

A 19th-century calculation of the tides in the area confirmed the chroniclers’ details. The story of the battle and the tide was depicted on 9 September 2018 in the 28th Orkney International Science Festival in Like the Corn Cut Down by the River, with Orkney Children’s Theatre Club, readers Dave Grieve and Ragnhild Ljosland, and singer Lorcán Mac Mathúna accompanied by Daire Bracken (fiddle) and Eamonn Galldubh (pipes and flute).