Winter’s Last (2021)

Winter's last event image with creative scotland Logo

Winter’s Last: A Celebration of Scottish Folklore, Traditions and Community Practices

Join the Taibhsear Collective as they host the last in their trilogy of explorations into Winter customs. Explore the rich tapestry and weave of Winter’s Last on the 23rd and 24th January 2021 at the Scottish Storytelling Centre Edinburgh.

We will be immersing ourselves in the chill of winter, exploring the home and hearth, domestic protection, Gillean Chullaig, winter traditions, and the spirits we have come to associate with the long-time darkening cold of Scotland.

This year we are thankful to have the support of Creative Scotland. Their contribution means that we have the resources to hold the event over an entire weekend; that’s two whole days filled with talks, networking, humour, discussion, workshops, and celebration. Our evenings will be dedicated to performances, film, and a chance to share a Wassail with each other.

We are pleased to announce some speakers, performers, and other participants already booked for the weekend including…

Speakers

Professor Diane Purkiss, who will examine the radical nature of older female figures in folklore connected with winter. Professor Purkiss will explore the Cailleach and Perchta, and their probable influence on the formation of the figure of the witch in one of the earliest demonological texts, the Formicarius of Johannes Nider. From this perspective, Professor Purkiss will go on to explore the role and maligning of old powerful bodies through menopause and beyond  and how this relates to witch trial hysteria. 

Simon Yuill, asking: What is our resonance with the Winterings that migrate to and from there on the winds and seas that encircle us? Simon explores his family, who are drenched in Winter. From his roots to their hearts and leaves. In Winter we turn to where the season brings us both darkness and light, to the very north itself. Taking this orientation, how may we understand ourselves from a Circumpolar perspective?  This stems from Simon’s current interest in looking at Scottish and Gaelic traditions in relation to Circumpolar cultures. People often speak of Scotland as being on the “margins” of Europe, but we are also on the boundaries (or transition zone) of the Circumpolar regions and there are strong resonances with traditions in Sami and Inuit culture, particularly in relation to deeper animist aspects most evident in Winter.

Storytelling

Amanda and Jean Edmiston, performing together for the first time. Mother and daughter will explore themes of winter in storytelling. 

Jess Smith, a Scottish writer and storyteller. Her work focuses on the experiences of Scottish travellers.  As of 2018, she has published six books, including an autobiographical trilogy recalling her own childhood experiences, and a booklet on Traveller Dialects (with co-author Robert Dawson). In 2014 she led a campaign to save the Tinkers’ Heart, a Scottish travellers’ monument in Argyll, Scotland.

Gauri Raje, a storyteller and anthropologist based in Scotland and India. She is fascinated by myths and their power to hold community memories. She works with different genres: folk tales, fairy tales, epics and myths, mainly from non-European regions, and autobiographical storytelling and has been increasingly working with the ways in which stories allow migrants to create a relationship with the land they settle in. Find out more on her Facebook page.

Baya Salmon-Hawk, a Transformational Storyteller from the South East of Ireland. Her passion is for pan-celtic stories and finding links through them into our world. Visit Baya’s website.

Snowy branches with Taibhsear Collective logo in front

Poetry

Lexi Knott – Lexi is a poet, silversmith & witch living in the Scottish Borders. She draws inspiration both from the ghosts of these rolling hills & the forgotten places they haunt.  Her latest poem will appear in Black Bough Poetry’s ‘Deep Time Vol 2.’ Follow her on Instagram & Twitter.

Allyson Shaw – Allyson is an award-winning poet and independent researcher living on the North East coast of Scotland. Her writing on witches and ancestors in the landscape has appeared and is forthcoming in The Bottle Imp, Rituals and Declarations, Cunning Folk, Fiddler’s Green and Thinking Horror, among others. You can visit her website and follow her on Patreon and Instagram.

Amelia Starling  – Amelia is a writer & folklorist based in North East Scotland. She writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry based on folklore and fairy tales. Her work explores connections between people, places, and stories. To find out more about her work, visit her website The Willow Web and follow her on Twitter.

Workshops

Verity Harvey-Brosnan from Botanik exploring Winter Wonderscents: Midwinter Scents that nourish and cocoon us. Join her for a curious journey into the depth of winter, through the art of olfaction. The choice of a particular fragrance is strongly linked to a season. With emotions so entwined with our sense of smell, we are naturally drawn to warm and comfy scents during the cold winter months. So what type of scents should you be looking for to brave the cold months ahead? In this workshop, we will explore a selection of five perfumery ingredients and accords you can use to create a wintery atmosphere in a fragrance. We will look at the botanical sources to gain a deeper understanding of the raw materials, and learn about the therapeutic value these oils offer. Alongside, taking a winter scent walk through experimenting with the oils to weave scent stories through creating an oil based perfume to take home with you. Follow Verity on Instagram.

Scott Richardson-Read (Cailleach’s Herbarium) and Amelia Starling will explore folk magic charms relating to protection for hearth and home. Our workshop will give you the chance to make and write your own charms, learning the traditions of using crafting, rhymes, and words in Scottish folk magic.

Stories of Scotland will be exploring Under the Merry Dancers with you all. In winters past, as enduring north winds would bring changes in the landscape, Highlanders would ceilidh together, meeting to share stories, sowens, and warmth around a peat fire. Stories would rise as though from the peat smoke, stories by candlelight and oil lamp, stories that sheltered communities from the cold through connecting them to winter’s long past. Much of the folklore that took them through winter explores people’s relationship with the darkest season: From the Gaelic Cailleach to old Norse traditions of luck and superstition in winter storms. The makers of the hit podcast Stories of Scotland will explore folklore of winter, from the long, dark nights of the North Highlands and Islands of Scotland. 

Harry Campbell, a Glasgow-based folk singer. A founding member of acapella group Muldoon’s picnic, he will be teaching and sharing songs from the Wassail tradition.

Mary Cane (PhD) “Stir up the fire to give us light, Tonight there’s going to be a fight!” Mary will run a workshop on Galoshins folk plays. This workshop will recreate the Scottish folk play, ‘Galoshins’, a hero combat drama traditionally performed in people’s homes at the turn of the year. Mary Cane, PhD researcher at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, leads the cast, drawing on costume designs and scripts from the James Madison Carpenter collection made in Britain between 1927 and 1935. Warning: there will be sword fighting, death, and showing off. 

Music

Burnt Paw: Astral-folk musician and luminous fingerstyle guitarist, Burnt Paw lives beneath Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and explores uncharted realms between psychedelic folk, contemporary folk and mythic storytelling. He’s also published several collections of poetry, loves creating his own artworks & regularly gets lost in the woods. 

For this performance, Paw will play songs that were especially influenced by his interest in folklore, mythology and magick. He’ll also be telling some stories about Scottish landscapes that inspired some of his recent recordings.

Adenine: A compelling live performer who has toured world-wide, the music of Scottish composer, harpist and sound-recordist Adenine (aka Ailie Robertson) encompasses influences from neo-classical, ambient and folk to create a nuanced sound world.

More TBA.

Visual Art

Kieran Milne: The visuals for Winter’s Last have been made by Kieran Milne. Kieran is an artist living in Glasgow, whose work using found objects and materials used in our everyday surroundings sits in a space of fragile familiarity. For Winter’s Last, Kieran has drawn on a body of work he made in 2015 on a Bothy Project residency at Inshriach. The series of images and films look at winter, isolation, and relationship to the land. He will also use these works to inform the making of new sculptures and photographic images that will be exhibited for the first time at the January event. This new collection will be focused on ritual domestic objects and historical costume.

Children’s Programme

Thanks to the support of Creative Scotland, for the first time we will be running a full programme of complimentary workshops and activities for your young people. Based on your feedback, we have developed a programme suitable for children aged 5 and over. If you would like your child to take part in this, please select the option for it on the ticket purchasing page. 

More details on the children’s programme will follow. Please note that places are limited.

Winter’s Last Tickets

Winter’s Last Tickets can be purchased below. For full weekend tickets, please add both of the day and both of the evening tickets to your basket and use the coupon code wknd at the checkout to receive a discount.

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Covid 19 – Plan B

As the dark clouds of winter roll in, we can never be sure how things will be. The safety of our community is paramount for us. We would like to reassure you we have plans in place if Covid-19 makes an unwelcome resurgence. 

In such an eventuality, we have plans in place to move the entire event online. So please bear with us as things unfold. But whatever happens, the event will be going ahead. Rest assured any tickets purchased for the weekend will cover you for the online event. You will always have a place near our hearth, no matter the weather.

If the event can go ahead in person at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, to protect everyone’s health and ensure safety throughout the weekend, we expect all of our attendees to comply with any guidance regarding Covid-19 in place at the time (e.g. social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing/sanitising hands).

We thank you for your understanding and support during these uncertain times, and we hope to see you all there!

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