In 2009-10 the GMB Writing Fellowship holder was writer Nalini Paul. During her Fellowship year she focused on themes of memory, migration and landscape. She delivered writing workshops for adults and young people and collaborated with story-tellers, visual artists, musicians, archaeologists and the RSPB.
Launch of Skirlags
In October 2009, Nalini launched her first poetry pamphlet, Skirlags (Red Squirrel Press), at the Pier Arts Centre. It was later shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award 2010.
In December 2009 Nalini teamed up with RSPB Area Manager Eric Meek for a weekend of bird-watching and writing workshops and held monthly writing workshops at the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall. A further bird watching/writing weekend took place in May 2010.
A Neolithic Weekend was held in March 2010, when World Heritage Site rangers Sandra Miller and Elaine Henry led tours of the ancient sites and gave talks in Stromness Library in conjunction with Nalini’s writing workshops. A joint talk and workshop with underwater archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones also took place.
Voice Literature Festival
Along with the Board of the GMB Fellowship, Nalini was involved in setting up the 2010 Voice Literature Festival. Writers from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Assynt visited Orkney to give readings and lead workshops.
St. Magnus Festival A Johnsmas Foy: In Search of Home
In Search of Home was a stage production devised and written by Nalini and directed by Aimée Leonard. It incorporated Nalini’s poetry; songs written and performed by Aimée Leonard and by Brian Cromarty of Saltfishforty; themed silk screen prints by Christina Sargent; and dance by members of the Orkney Traditional Dance Association. Two performances were given at the St Magnus Festival 2010.
Exhibition in Stromness Library: Return to Light
Return to Light was an exhibition held in Stromness Library in September 2010. Contributing artists responded in a variety of media to Nalini’s themes of migration, memory and landscape. The exhibition featured photographs by Rebecca Marr; paintings and mixed media by Diana Leslie; work in stone and tapestry by Ros Bryant; wall hangings and papier mâché by Christina Sargent; and bird sculptures created from photographs and discarded white goods by John Vincent.
Publications: Navigating Home and Setting Sail
Navigating Home, edited by Nalini Paul, was launched at the Pier Arts Centre in September 2010. An anthology of poems and prose submitted by people all over Orkney (among them young writers from Westray Community School), it included writing initiated in workshops held over the year. Ilustrations and cover artwork were by artist and musician Christina Sargent and book design was by Iain Ashman.
Setting Sail was the culmination of Nalini Paul’s workshops at Stromness Primary School, where she involved children in writing stories and poems in response to extracts of music.
Poetry and Photography
In March 2010, Nalini and photographer Rebecca Marr gave a joint presentation of poetry and photography to residents at St Peter’s House in Stromness. Nalini read her own work and a selection of poems by George Mackay Brown, while Rebecca showed images created for Art and Agriculture (2007), the project she undertook during her year as artist-in-residence at the Pier Arts Centre.