About SKALD Festival / Read more about SKALD Festival

The original Skalds were poets who weaved their stories in the halls of the great Viking Age. This Skald too has a story to tell. We hope it becomes the voice of all those in the far north who have the courage to create; words, pictures, sounds, fabrics and films so that others can enjoy.

This Skald wants to help construct a vibrant, competitive and sustainable creative economy in Caithness and Sutherland, building on the energy and traditions of its remote, rural communities and its global connectedness.

Most notably, this first Skald Festival wants to attract and showcase creative talent born and bred locally; individuals who have used their imagination to make original and authentic content, and this first Skald wants to attract like minded individuals who want to be part of the adventure.

Join us.

Schedule / Our two day schedule

3 Writers Reading – Margaret Mackay, Moira Dearness & Catherine Byrne

Six Caithness novelists, a direct result of the Creative Writing course at North Highland College UHI.

Opening of Festival by Helen Mackay, George Gunn and Alistair Murray with light refreshments

Play ‘Blackout’ with Donna Swanson and cast Q&A

Blackout by Davey Anderson, directed by Donna Swanson and peformed by Thurso Players juniors featuring John MacGeachie 'A small room, bright lights, white walls, a metal door. Oh my God! Imagine you wake up in a jail cell and you don't know how you got there.'   Blackout is the true story of a 15-year-old boy charged with attempted murder who tries to piece together the events in his life that have brought him into a secure care unit and threaten to keep him there. This short play packs a big emotional punch with its stylistic economy and razor-sharp storytelling.

Film ‘Play me Something’ with Timothy Neat (Director) Q&A

Play Me Something: 1989, 72 mins. Shot on the Isle of Barra and in Venice, this film stars John Berger, Tilda Swinton, Hamish Henderson and Liz Lochhead. Its about a farmer who loses his overalls because a tree octapus seduces him... At the airport on the Outer Hebrides island of Barra, a small group of people await the delayed plane to Glasgow on the Scottish mainland. Among the local passengers is the Stranger (John Berger). He tells a long story about the North Italian peasant Bruno (Charlie Barron) on his first time visit to Venice on a weekend trip. This story within the story, about Bruno falling in love with Marietta (Lucia Lanzarini), is taken from John Berger´s own Once in Europe (published 1987). The film moves between the meeting of the two of the inner story and the interaction of the waiting passengers of outer story, which includes a hairdresser setting off for a job on the mainland (Tilda Swinton) and a singer (Margaret Bennett). And finally the aircraft arrives. "a work that plays with the form of cinema and delivers a pan-European love story (one that, incidently, helped kick-start Tilda Swinton’s career)" Chris Dolan, The Herald (17/11/07)

Films ‘Time to be Sleeping’, ‘Wool and Widows’ and ‘Sea Glass’ with Alistair Murray (Producer) Q&A

Time to Be Sleeping – written and produced by Alistair Murray, directed by Charlie Wilson Wool and Widows – written by Sharon Gunason Pottinger, produced by Alistair Murray, directed by Charlie Wilson Seaglass – written by Donna Booth, produced by Alistair Murray, directed by Charlie Wilson (All the above shorts feature local actors Donna Swanson, TC, William Simpson, Marney Bruce, Kerry Tait, James Robson and Rhea Booth alongside Peter Rogan) Big Box Network is a film company based in the Highlands and Islands with a long term remit to conceptualise and produce quality and commercial screen output to international audiences. To ensure success they (Alistair Murray and Charlie Wilson) have been preparing the ground carefully, working on a long term plan and adopting an independent path with a premium placed on developing local resource capacity and initiating global networks. The first self funded short Time to be Sleeping was released in 2012 using cast and crew who had never been on a film set before. Since then Big Box has worked on a number of locally based projects including Wool and Widows and Seaglass and has been instrumental in facilitating the development of the forthcoming UHI film degree. Having recently optioned five feature scripts and secured Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) status, Big Box is about to commence funding for its first feature production, Sisters Curse, which is now under development.

George Mackay and his exhibition of Eejits in foyer

eejits by Caithness cartoonist George Mackay.,  Drawing inspiration from people around him, people around the world as well as the wonderful, small and remote part of the world he comes from, George has hundreds of eejits especially for your viewing pleasure! So what is an eejit…..? An eejit is an idiot, a fool, a gormless ignoramus. An eejit is a creature who doesn’t know any better. Born in the Highlands of Scotland, these weird and wonderful creatures are even rarer than the famous haggis. Due to their incredibly stupid nature and natural curiosity, they have now been collected together for their own safety. A curious collection of creatures, a menagerie of misfortunate misfits gathered together for the entire world to see.

3 Writers Reading

Six Caithness novelists, a direct result of the Creative Writing course at North Highland College UHI.

‘Third Star’ with Adam Robertson (Actor and Associate Producer) Q&A

Third Star: (2010, 92 mins) James and his three closest lifelong friends go on an ill-advised trip to the stunning coastal area of Barafundle Bay in West Wales. What follows is a touching and comical adventure dealing with friendship, heroism and love.

Lunch (included in ticket price)

Session with Kenny Lindsay and George Gunn reading Gaelic and Caithness poems

Snippets of ‘A Musical Map of Caithness’ with Gordon Gunn Q&A

Gordon Gunn Musical Map of Caithness:  An exciting album release that takes you on a musical journey round Caithness with multi-instrumentalist Gordon Gunn and friends. Funded by Creative Scotland, the map is a celebration of local culture, history, nature and landscapes, telling the story of the county by combining short local narrative with modern celtic instrumentals and songs. Each piece of instrumental music written by Gordon Gunn and the songs co-written by Gordon & George Gunn.

Industry Panel Discussion

Industry Panel Discussion on how to enter the creative industries Chaired by Alistair Murray (Big Box) and comprising Skald participants George Gunn, Colin MacDonald, Timothy Neat, Adam Robertson, Iain Hamilton (HIE Head of Creative Industries) and Charlie Wilson (Big Box and Programme Leader H&I Film Making at North Highland College UHI).

Nibbles

‘The Dunroamin’ Rising’ with Colin MacDonald (Writer) Q&A

The title refers to the Dunroaming Evening Tide Nursing Home where former revolutionary leader Ian Sinclair is now an 88-year-old resident. In protest at the proposed closure of the home, the old socialist firebrand embarks upon a hunger strike that ends up having wide-range repercussions. With thanks to Eden Court, the BFI, Caithness Horizons and with thanks to BBC Scotland for permission to broadcast.

Student Bands in Central Bar, Thurso

All Skald Festival goers are invited to an after event party at the Central Hotel in Thurso after 2130hrs featuring North Highland College UHI student bands from the creative music courses at Alness. Our HNC Music Performance course is run at the Alness campus of the North Highland College which is apart of the UHI network. This course is run in parallel with the HNC Sound Production course, which is also based at the Alness Campus. 'First' thing in out 'fIrst' class on our 'first' day the SKALD ‘after party' project was handed to both Sound Production and Music Performance students, so they were thrown straight in at the deep end! Thrown together into groups full of new faces, different genres and styles collaborated and clashed creating an intesteing blend of music. By marrying old and new traditions, we've come up with interesting spins on traditional Scottish tunes and and more modern music birthed from these roots. While honouring the musical heritage of our culture, North Highland College UHI endeavours to provide the ideal environment for individuals to flourish 'together' giving breath to new life. With this comes a fresh set of ideas and styles which allow our roots to thrive and find greater relevance in the present day.

George Mackay and his exhibition of Eejits in foyer

eejits by Caithness cartoonist George Mackay.,  Drawing inspiration from people around him, people around the world as well as the wonderful, small and remote part of the world he comes from, George has hundreds of eejits especially for your viewing pleasure! So what is an eejit…..? An eejit is an idiot, a fool, a gormless ignoramus. An eejit is a creature who doesn’t know any better. Born in the Highlands of Scotland, these weird and wonderful creatures are even rarer than the famous haggis. Due to their incredibly stupid nature and natural curiosity, they have now been collected together for their own safety. A curious collection of creatures, a menagerie of misfortunate misfits gathered together for the entire world to see.

Speakers / Read more about our speakers

Adam’s first job after leaving Thurso High School was screwing lids on freezers at Norfrost Freezer Factory in Castletown. Then he moved up the career path to cleaning the

George Gunn

Writer

George Gunn is from Thurso in Caithness where he lives with his wife Christine. In (2013) he published his 8th book of poems "A Northerly Land". He has had over

Kenny Lindsay

Playwright, poet, writer and actor

Kenny Lindsay is a playwright, poet, writer and actor in both Gaelic and English. He was Writer in Residence 2014/15 at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the

Alistair Murray

Writer and Film Producer

Caithness based businessman Alistair Murray first discovered the creative industries as a radio presenter for the Jim and Ali Show, which has been broadcasting its own brand of madness

Colin MacDonald was brought up in Dornoch and Wick. He has written more than 30 hours of television, including the single films Sharpe’s Honour, The Dunroamin Rising, Blue Murder, and

Timothy Neat

Scottish writer, film maker, photographer, teacher and art historian

Timothy Neat is a Scottish writer, film maker, photographer, teacher and art historian. Brought up in North Cornwall, he was a boarder at Launceston College 1955/63. After an Honours

Gordon Gunn

Musician

Gordon Gunn has been described as "one of the most exciting and innovative fiddle players of the times." Born & brought up in Wick, Caithness, Gordon was taught by

Iain Hamilton

HIE Head of Creative Industries

Iain Hamilton is Head of Creative Industries with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which entails working across the different sectors that make up ‘Creative Industries’, and looking at how we

Donna Swanson

Actor and Film Director

Having joined Thurso Players' in her teens, Donna has been an on-stage panto favourite ever since and uses her skills now to inspire others to follow in the limelight. 

Charlie Wilson

Film-maker

Charlie Wilson is an independent film-maker based near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. He has worked as an actor and director in theatre, film and television for over

Tickets / Book your tickets online

All Day Pass

£7.00

All day pass

Concessions

£3.50

Day Ticket for Students and OAP’s

Latest Blog / Get all the latest news from our blog

ETEC Announced as main venue

We are proud to annouce that the ETEC building at North Highland College UHI will be the main venue for the SKALD Festival 2015.

Location

ETEC Building, North Highland College, Ormlie Rd, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7EE

Get directions

Financial Contributors and Sponsors / We are grateful for the support of our financial contributors and sponsors