This month’s big news is the launch of Creatives, a vibrant, thought-provoking and innovative digital publication that promotes, reimagines and is inspired by the beauty of the Scottish landscape. Through writing and visual art, our aim is to offer a platform for creators to connect with audiences all over the country, and to provide a space for artistic and exploratory spirits to collaborate, develop their crafts and motivate others to explore the natural world.
Through writing and visual art, our aim is to offer a platform for creators to connect with audiences all over the country, and to provide a space for artistic and exploratory spirits to collaborate, develop their crafts and motivate others to explore the natural world.
A year ago, at the height of the pandemic, we could travel no further than five kilometres from our homes. However, while many in Scotland had no physical access to the Highlands, there were no restrictions on navigating these places imaginatively. I remember, alone by my bedroom window, reading nature poems and classic tales of Scottish climbing, or perusing photographs of the country’s fascinating landscapes. I’d peer outside across the cobbled street and replace the row of tenements with the Black Cuillin of Skye, the chimneys with the Aonach Eagach’s knife-like ridge, and the city’s pigeons and gulls with grouse. I remember, too, while running in town one morning, stopping in front of Sir Walter Scott’s monument and wondering how small it stood in comparison to the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney. Writing and art were our vehicles for exploration, providing us with open spaces, clean air, snowclad hills, roaring rivers, sea cliffs, lochs and remote bothy nights. They gave us birdsong and the voices of the trees; they allowed us to contemplate these landscapes as they lay in brief repose.
Creatives is in part a response to this confluence of the country’s artistic and natural spheres, but it is also a call to diversify the current body of published works. Although the past few years have sparked a renewed interest in Scottish nature writing and art, they have simultaneously exposed a gap in the publishing sphere. We are familiar with traditional mountaineering feats—triumph amidst hardship, perilous summits—but these stories do not represent the full range of communities that enjoy the outdoors. Different personal objectives and circumstances, physical and mental capabilities and modes of travel affect the way we interact with the environment, and we want to capture and collate these myriad experiences and perspectives.
Every activity fosters a unique understanding of the landscapes we navigate, but the places themselves contain rich geological and cultural histories, and bring forth their own challenges and pleasures. Experiences in the outdoors vary among individuals, but each begets a physiological response, and for the artist, these intense sensory moments often generate insight. In The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd observes that there comes a time when we value a ‘task that, demanding of [us] all [we have] and [are], absorbs and so releases [us] entirely’. An acute awareness of and attention to the earth—its sounds, smells, textures, subtleties—occurs during this immersion; later, during the creative process, the artist is once again temporally subsumed within the landscape, their words or brushstrokes borne out of the place they originated.
At the heart of this artistic exchange is a fundamental gesture of gratitude to the earth, which promotes critical empathy. By publishing an array of creative works and making them freely available, our aim is to render this exchange cyclical, so that engagement with creative works that are inspired by the natural world will generate new insights and the outdoors might be enjoyed in a more inclusive and creative way.
Carn Ealer – Carn an Fhidhleir
Mountain of the Fiddler by Merryn Glover
She plays the rock
with the bow of the wind
for the stars to dance
Creatives is now open for submissions, and we would love to hear from you. We accept works of fiction, nonfiction, nature writing, poetry, interviews, visual art and film, and encourage both emerging and established creators to submit work, especially those from underrepresented communities. To find out how to submit, please view our submission guidelines.