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Festival logo of a abstractly drawn yellow face reading a red book with the pages fanned out.

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WayWORD is a student and youth-led literary arts festival brought to you by the WORD Centre for Creative Writing, University of Aberdeen. Workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights are all FREE and live online and include BSL interpretation. 

Performers include Leila Aboulela, Graeme Armstrong, Claire Cunningham, Harry Josephine Giles,  Kirstin Innes, A.L. Kennedy, Val McDermid, Zakiya McKenzie, Ely Percy, Karine Polwart, Dan Schreiber, Alan Warner, Irvine Welsh, Alex Wheatle, and more!

WayWORD celebrates unconventional forms of artistic expression from LGBTQ+ documentary opera to poetry, novels, spoken word, choreography, painting, zines, animation, songwriting and comedy – something for everyone. Includes events and invited speakers working in Gaelic, Doric, Polish, Arabic, and BSL. 

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Whether online or in-person, our events are free (booking required).
Captions and BSL interpretation will be available throughout the festival.

2021 Programme:

 

A student and youth-led cross-arts festival exploring unconventional forms of expression

47 events
100 performers
from over 15 countries
working in over 13 different languages and dialects

Sunday 19th September

The Love Wall

Sunday 19th September -
Sunday 26th September

Launching 3pm Sunday 19th Sept.
An interactive online and in situ art installation, the Love Wall showcases and celebrates the multifaceted forms love can take. 

An interactive online and offline art installation, the Love Wall showcases and celebrates the multifaceted forms love can take. 
Visit waywordfestival.com/love-wall to leave a virtual contribution or Sunnybank Park to make your mark on the physical love wall installation. 

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Sunday 19th Sept. 7.30 - 8.30 pm BST
(Online)

New York Times Bestselling author (and Aberdeen graduate), Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé discusses her debut novel, the young adult thriller, Ace of Spades. 

Rumours and racism in an elite private school; Faridah describes Ace of Spades as 'a love letter to queer Black teenagers who feel powerless and alone finally finding their voices.’   

Monday 20th September
 

Listen... Outdoor Sound Art Workshop with Pete Stollery 

Monday 20th Sept. 3 - 4 pm BST
(In-person at Cruikshank Botanic Garden)

Join Professor of Electro-Acoustic Music, Pete Stollery, in Cruickshank Botanical Gardens for an outdoor workshop in soundscape listening, recording and editing sounds for a virtual sound map. 

This event has limited numbers (and a waitlist). Please sign up only if you fully intend to show up, and let us know if you have to cancel so we can offer your place to someone else. Please also let us know via the form whether you have any additional needs.

There will be an optional follow-up online editing component to this workshop to be arranged with Professor Stollery via doodlepoll on the day

Verbal Remedies Launch: Creative Writing by Medics

Monday 20th Sept. 5.30 - 6.30 pm BST (Online)

Students from the University of Aberdeen’s Creative Writing for Medics course launch Verbal Remedies IV, a chapbook of their latest writing, with readings and discussion.

Students from the University of Aberdeen’s Creative Writing for Medics course launch Verbal Remedies IV, a chapbook of their latest writing, with readings, reflections on their experiences as aspiring medics in this time of pandemic and the role of creative expression in their lives and learning.

Wirds an Soonds: Doric & Cello and ‘We Need to Talk’ Showcase

Monday 20th Sept. 7.30 – 8.30 pm BST
(Online)

Join cellists, composers and writers involved in Wirds an Soonds and ‘We Need to Talk’ in conversation with Sound Festival’s Fiona Robertson and UoA WORD Centre’s Helen Lynch

Join cellists, composers and writers involved in this fascinating project, which has ranged from collaborations between composers, musicians and writers to workshops in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray schools: Noémi Boutin, Matthew Sharp, Shane Strachan, Aileen Sweeney and Emily De Simone, in discussion with Sound Festival’s Fiona Robertson and WORD Centre’s Helen Lynch. Includes screening of short film about We Need to Talk/Il Faut Q’on Parle and new work by Aileen, Emily and Shane. In association with Sound Festival. 

Tuesday 21st September

Join this interactive online workshop with Professor Nathan Wolek of Stetson University, Florida, to learn about layers or specific features of the soundscape around you.

'Speaking of Sound': Online Sound Art Workshop with Nathan Wolek

Tuesday 21st Sept. 3 - 4pm BST
(Online)

Many people are good at listening but lack vocabularies to describe what they hear, others need help to distinguish between sounds in the world around them. Join this interactive online workshop with Professor Nathan Wolek of Stetson University, Florida, to learn about layers or specific features of the soundscape around you, and how you might speak about and take forward these impressions. Suitable for people who are visually-impaired as well as for those who are not.

Elliptical Reading with British Art Show 9 & Aberdeen Central Library 

Tuesday 21t Sept. 5.30pm - 7pm BST (Online)

A screening of British Art Show 9’s Elliptical Reading by artist Abigail Reynolds, with in conversation event, followed by audience Q&A 

What exactly is an ‘elliptical reading’ and how is it a work of art? There’s only one way to find out… 

A screening of British Art Show 9’s Elliptical Reading by artist Abigail Reynolds, with in conversation event, followed by audience Q&A 

Aberdeen Women's Alliance Virtual Witches Walking Tour 

Tuesday 21st  Sept. 7.30pm - 8.30pm BST (Online)

Alison McCall of AWA delves not only into Aberdeen's dramatic witch trials and executions, but the real people behind the stories. 

Alison McCall of AWA delves not only into Aberdeen's dramatic witch trials and executions, but the real people behind the stories. 

Discover the places and stories associated with witchcraft in the Granite City with Aberdeen Women’s Alliance’s virtual Witches Walking Tour. Screening of pre-recorded walk with live online Q&A. 

 
Wednesday 22nd September

Irvine Welsh in conversation with Alan Warner

Wednesday 22nd Sept.  4.30pm - 5.30pm BST (Online)

Eavesdrop as collaborators on recent book The Seal Club, Alan Warner and Irvine Welsh, talk life and writing (with Q&A).

In 2020 Irvine Welsh, John King, author of The Football Factory, and Alan Warner jointly published a book of three novellas: The Seal Club. Join them for a conversation about this and much more. 

Leila Aboulela: Decolonising the Imagination 

Wednesday 22nd Sept. 11.30am - 12.30pm  BST (Online)

Decolonising the Imagination: freeing reading and writing from the legacy of Empire. Leila Aboulela questions where our viewpoints and stories come from, using key African texts to help enrich our understanding.  

Decolonising the Imagination: freeing reading and writing from the legacy of Empire is a masterclass by Leila Aboulela, and welcomes anyone interested in anti-racism, Black Lives Matter and diversity, as well as writers, readers and educators who are looking for ways to enrich their practice.  

Heal & Harrow: Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl

Wednesday 22nd Sept.  6pm - 7pm BST (Online)

Singer and harpist Rachel Newton and fiddle player Lauren MacColl discuss and share some of their new multi-disciplinary work, Heal & Harrow, a humanising tribute to those persecuted during the Scottish Witch Trials.  

Exploring historical beliefs in the supernatural and modern-day parallels in our society, the project is a timely artistic response to the current campaigns for a pardon for and memorial to those accused in the trials. 

In collaboration with the writer Mairi Kidd, Rachel and Lauren bring these narratives to life, with each character represented by a short story, a visual and a musical piece.   

New Scottish Writing

Wednesday 22nd Sept. 1pm - 2pm BST (Online)

Rachelle Atalla, Gillian Shearer, Hannah Nicholson, & Jen Cooper share their work in a round table discussion with Wayne Price  

New writers on the Scottish scene and Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award-winners, novelists Rachelle Atalla, Hannah Nicholson, Gillian Shearer and poet Jen Cooper, join Wayne Price for a round table with readings of their work.

North-East Voices at The Blue Lamp   

Wednesday 22nd Sept. 8 - 10.30 pm BST, doors open 7.30pm (In-Person at The Blue Lamp) 

An evening of varied North-East voices in story, song, poetry and comedy with Shane Strachan, Sheena Blackhall, Noon Salah Eldin, Affa Fine, SC&T Youth and Iona Fyfe.  

Join us once again (after so long…) at The Blue Lamp for an extravaganza of North-East words, music and film with writers, performers and musicians, featuring Shane Strachan, Sheena Blackhall, Noon Salah Eldin, Affa Fine, SC&T Youth and Iona Fyfe.  

Young film-maker Anais Fourrier has made four Storytelling & Place short films featuring local tale-spinners and some weel kent locations, specially for WayWORD 2021. The first of these, starring North-East Makar Sheena Blackhall, will be premiered this evening, with screenings of three others to follow throughout the festival.   

 

Creative Writing & Mental Health with Jane Hughes

Wednesday 22nd Sept. 10am - 11am BST (Online)

Therapist Jane Hughes leads a writing workshop using some techniques and ideas gleaned from the field of mental health. 

Can notions around mental health assist us with our writing? Counsellor and Creative Writer Jane Hughes explores this through workshop exercises aimed at getting you thinking and writing in a new way.  

Places on this workshop are limited, with a waitlist. 

Thursday 23rd September

Life Writing Workshop: Elizabeth Anderson & Timothy C. Baker

Thursday 23rd Sept. 10am - 11am BST (Online)

A Life-writing Workshop, drawing on the work and writing habits of two great Scottish writers, Naomi Mitchison and Sylvia Townsend Warner

Elizabeth Anderson and Timothy C. Baker lead this Life-writing Workshop, drawing on the work and writing habits of two great Scottish writers, Naomi Mitchison and Sylvia Townsend Warner, to create exercises for writing about your own life. 

Abomination: A DUP Opera Screening and Q&A with director Nicky Larkin 

Thursday 23rd Sept. 2.30pm - 4pm BST (Online)

A screening of the 45-minute documentary followed by a Q&A with director Nicky Larkin.

Nicky Larkin's documentary Abomination follows the creation of The Belfast Ensemble's radical DUP Opera, which takes verbatim political statements and puts them to music.

Resistance Zines Workshop with Dead Women Poets Society 

Thursday 23rd Sept. 11.30am - 12.30pm BST
(Online)

Gather together to resurrect the words of women and non-binary poets through the creation of some funky little zines with poet Jasmine Simms and artist Lily Arnold. 

Gather together to resurrect the words of women and non-binary poets through the creation of some funky little zines. What better  to pursue our adventures in conversing with the dead? The mediums guiding your communication with the other side are two, out of the three, co-directors of Dead [Women] Poets society: Jasmine Simms (poet) and Lily Arnold (artist).  

Hysteria Writing & Performing Spoken Word Poetry Workshop 1: Writing

Thursday 23rd Sept. 4pm - 5.30pm BST (Online)

A writing-focussed workshop led by Mae Diansangu and Hanna Louise of Aberdeen-based women & non-binary arts platform, Hysteria. Open to writers of all experience levels. 

Places on this workshop are limited, with a waitlist. 

Writing Life & Death: Nomi Eve & Emily Utter

Thursday 23rd Sept. 1pm - 2pm BST
(Online)

Philadelphia author and creator of Story Medicine, Nomi Eve, in discussion with Canadian Writer-in-residence at Aberdeen’s specialist palliative care hospital, Emily Utter.

Philadelphia author and creator of Story Medicine, Nomi Eve, and Canadian Writer-in-residence at Aberdeen’s specialist palliative care hospital, Emily Utter, discuss their own novels and stories, and their experiences with writing in a healthcare setting. How do they write with and for people facing illness or even the end of life?   

Sea Shanty Workshop with Chris McShane 

Thursday 23rd Sept. 5.30pm - 7pm BST (Online)

There’s life beyond The Wellerman: learn some new sea shanties and write one of your own with Chris McShane (hosted by SC&T Youth

Chris’s approach to musical participation is inclusive and he welcomes anyone onto his courses, which appeal to those who’ve wielded their instruments or voices in anger before, and also those who’ve put it off all their lives.

 

The idea of this workshop is to learn some popular shanties and have a go at writing a modern version that we could later perform and record.

Writers Showcase with Pushing Out The Boat & Leopard Arts

Thursday 23rd Sept. 7.30pm - 9pm BST (Online)

An evening of performances from veteran and emerging writers published on two highly regarded Aberdeen-based literary and arts platforms.

Join us for an evening of performances from veteran and emerging writers published on two highly-regarded Aberdeen-based literary and arts platforms, Pushing Out the Boat and Leopard Arts  feat. Elsewhere to Be Polish Scots writing 

From poetry to spoken word to theatre, from Scots and English to a smattering of Polish there is something truly for everyone!  

 
Friday 24th September

British Sign Language (BSL) Workshop

Friday 24th Sept. 10am - 11am BST
(Online)

Join British Sign Language (BSL) teacher Mags McNulty in a 1 hour BSL workshop for beginners. You will learn basic greetings, colours, and other phrases. A fingerspelling handout will be provided before the event.

Places on this workshop are limited, with a waitlist. 

Cultural Translation: 

Friday 24th Sept. 2.30pm - 3.30pm BST
(Online)

Avni Doshi, Booker-shortlisted author of Burnt Sugar, activist poet and dramatist Raman Mundair, and writer, researcher and activist Preti Taneja discuss writing across cultures and languages, and share their work. 

Avni Doshi, Booker-shortlisted author of Burnt Sugar, activist poet and dramatist Raman Mundair, and writer, researcher and activist Preti Taneja discuss writing across cultures and languages and share their work. 

 

Whether depicting toxic mother-daughter relationships, exploring the social consequences of the ‘war on terror’ or restaging King Lear in contemporary India, these writers explain how not to get lost in translation. 

Join British Sign Language (BSL) Teacher Mags McNulty in a 1 hour BSL workshop for beginners. 

Karine Polwart

Friday 24th Sept. 6pm - 7pm BST
(Online)

Karine Polwart, multi-award-winning songwriter, folk singer, composer, theatre-maker and author shares her work. 

Karine Polwart is a multi-award-winning songwriter, folk singer, composer, theatre-maker, and author. Join her as she shares some of her work and discusses her multidisciplinary experience in conversation with University of Aberdeen Professor of English and Scottish Literature, Tim Baker, and English and Film student Katerina Gort.  

Climate Change with STEM poets 

Friday 24th Sept. 11.30am - 12.30pm BST (Online)

Members of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Poets group and the Scottish Writers Centre, John Bolland, Mandy Haggith & Eveline Pye make climate realities clear and present with poems that draw on biophysics, engineering, ecology, mathematics and more…    

Members of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Poets group and the Scottish Writers Centre, John Bolland, Mandy Haggith & Eveline Pye make climate realities clear and present with poems that draw on biophysics, engineering, ecology, mathematics and more…    

Hysteria Writing & Performing Spoken Word Poetry Workshop 2: Performance Technique

Friday 24th Sept. 4pm - 5.30pm BST
(Online)

A workshop focussing on performance technique led by Mae Diansangu and Hanna Louise of Aberdeen-based women & non-binary arts platform, Hysteria. Open to all experience levels. Participants may perform at Saturday’s Hysteria open-mic night, featuring headliner Harry Josephine Giles. 

Writing Comedy with QI's Dan Schreiber 

Friday 24th Sept. 7.30pm - 8.30pm BST
(Online)

Dan Schreiber, from the UK’s most listened to podcast No Such Thing As A Fish shares his insights into writing and producing comedy 

QI’s Dan Schreiber, co-host of the UK’s most listened-to podcast No Such Thing as a Fish and producer of award-winning shows on TV and Radio, talks about the processes of writing comedy for TV and radio and answers your questions.

World-building Through a Poetry Lens with Natalie Linh Bolderston

Friday 24th Sept. 1pm - 2pm BST
(Online)

Join award-winning poet Natalie Linh Bolderston as she discusses worldbuilding, the art of constructing an imaginary world, through a poetry lens. 

Join award-winning poet Natalie Linh Bolderston as she discusses worldbuilding, the art of constructing an imaginary world, through a poetry lens. Bolderston will use her work as a "worldbuilding case study" and will take time to read some of her poetry. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the event.

Storytelling & Place 2: Dunnottar with Grace Banks

Friday 24th Sept. 5.15 pm BST
(Online)

Young French film-maker Anais Fourrier follows North-East storyteller Grace Banks

One of four films made by young French film-maker Anais Fourrier following North-East storytellers Grace Banks, Sheena Blackhall, Pauline Cordiner and Jackie Ross around Aberdeenshire as they tell their lively tales in situ. 

 
Saturday 25th September

Animation Workshop

Saturday 25th Sept. 10am - 11am BST
(In-Person at Aberdeen Kings College Campus)

A beginners workshop in animation led by  recent graduate of  Limerick School of Art and Design Finn Nichol.  His practice is a multi-disciplinary enquiry into storytelling.

Finn will draw on his own experimental animation to conduct a workshop exploring the process of creation and storytelling for animation.

Places on this workshop are limited, with a waitlist.  

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Visions of Beauty: Uncovering Art 

Saturday 25th Sept. 2pm - 4pm BST
(Online)

Uncovering history and contemporary practice in Aberdeen Art Gallery with Live Face Art Demonstration by 2018 UK Bodypainting Champion Ulianka

Join Aberdeen Art Gallery's Amy Thomson and face and body painter Ulianka Maksymiuk for a collaborative event looking at paintings in Aberdeen Art Gallery to explore ideas of beauty with a panel led discussion; includes live face art demonstration and Q&A

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Storytelling & Place 3: Kincardine O'Neil with Jackie Ross

Saturday 25th Sept. 5.30pm BST
(Online)

Young French film-maker Anais Fourrier follows North-East storyteller Jackie Ross

One of four films made by young French film-maker Anais Fourrier following North-East storytellers Grace Banks, Sheena Blackhall, Pauline Cordiner and Jackie Ross around Aberdeenshire as they tell their lively tales in situ. 

Nan Shepherd Event: Writer Zakiya McKenzie & Composer Colin Riley 

Saturday 25th Sept. 11.30am - 12.30pm BST
(Online)

Writer Zakiya McKenzie and composer Colin Riley discuss words, music and the natural world, and the influence of Nan Shepherd.

Nan Shepherd’s legacy continues to live on not only through her work, but also through its reinterpretations in contemporary contexts and forms. Join writer Zakiya McKenzie and composer Colin Riley for an artistic exploration of Nan Shepherd, words, music and the natural world.

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Writing & Nature: Alice Tarbuck and Jessica J. Lee

Saturday 25th Sept. 2.30pm - 3.30pm BST
(Online)

Authors Jessica J Lee and Alice Tarbuck discuss the purpose of nature writing in our changing climate, exploring issues from wellbeing and witchcraft to identity and environmental crisis.

What does it mean to be a nature writer in our changing climate? Join authors Jessica J. Lee and Alice Tarbuck in conversation about human-nature relationships in literature - covering topics including nature and identity, wellbeing, witchcraft, and environmental crisis.

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Val McDermid

Saturday 25th Sept. 6pm - 7pm BST
(Limited in-person tickets, and Online)

An author event with multi-award-winning crime writer Val McDermid, introducing her latest work,1979, the first in a brand-new series of novels featuring Allie Burns.  

An author event with multi-award-winning crime writer Val McDermid, introducing her latest work,1979, the first in a brand-new series of novels featuring Allie Burns.  

Winner of the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, and many other accolades and prizes, the ‘Queen of Crime’ emerges from lockdown with new stories to tell. 

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Writing & Class: Graeme Armstrong and Ely Percy

Saturday 25th Sept. 1pm -2pm BST
(Online)

Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team, and Ely Percy, author of Duck Feet, discuss the importance of language, place and class in their writing. 

Noted for their powerful prose, acclaimed Scottish writers Ely Percy and Graeme Armstrong talk about their work and the challenges of depicting working class Scotland. 

Alex Wheatle

Saturday 25th Sept. 4pm - 5pm BST
(Online)

Alex Wheatle, Brixton Bard and acclaimed young-adult fiction writer, introduces his latest novel, Cane Warriors. 

Meet Brixton Bard and acclaimed writer of young adult fiction, Alex Wheatle, and learn about his forthcoming novel, Cane Warriors, which follows the true-life slave rebellion known as Tacky’s War in 18th-century Jamaica through the eyes of one boy. 

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Hysteria: Women/Non-Binary Performance Night featuring Harry Josephine Giles

Saturday 25th Sept. 7.30pm - 9pm BST
(Online)

Hysteria women and non-binary performance night with headliner Harry Josephine Giles, Orcadian writer and performer. 

Orcadian writer and performer Harry Josephine Giles heads up an exciting evening hosted by Hysteria Aberdeen, including performance opportunities for 'graduates' of Hysteria's 'Spoken Word Writing' and 'Spoken Word Performance Technique' Workshops for WayWORD.

 
Sunday 26th September
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Bothy Ballads Workshop with Ellie Beaton

Saturday 25th Sept. 10am - 11.30am BST
(Online)

Learn some stirring North-East farming songs with BBC Young Trad Finalist Ellie Beaton (hosted by SC&T Youth)

Bothy Ballads are traditional folk songs from North East Scotland, historically sung by farm labourers on a huge variety of topics, encompassing history, comedy, tragedy, romance and everything in between! 

 

Ellie is an accomplished trad singer from Rothienorman who reached the finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2021. 

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Gaelic Song Workshop with Norrie MacIver

Saturday 25th Sept. 10am - 11.30am BST
(Online)

Learn some Gaelic songs with accomplished Gaelic singer Norrie MacIver (hosted by SC&T Youth). Beginners welcome. 

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Nature Writing Workshop with Zakiya McKenzie

Sunday 26th Sept. 11.30am - 12.30pm BST (Online)

Poet, non-fiction writer and storyteller Zakiya McKenzie leads a workshop to celebrate and explore nature in new ways through writing.

Zakiya McKenzie is a poet, non-fiction writer and storyteller, and was writer-in-residence for Forestry England in 2019 and Bristol’s Black & Green Ambassador in 2017. She regularly leads nature, art and writing workshops, including one on Caribbean storytelling for primary schools.

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Dràma na Gàidhlig le Michelle NicLeòid

Sunday 26th Sept. 1pm - 2pm BST
(Online)

The an sgrìobhadair Michelle NicLeòid agus stiùiriche aig Theatre gu Leòr Muireann Kelly a' còmhradh mu dhràma Gàidhlig agus mar a dh'fhaodadh e sgaraidhean cànain agus cultar a bhriseadh.

Bruuidhinnidh iad air buaidh a' ghalar mhòr-should air dhràma agus mar a tha suidheachaidhean eile riatanach airson obair chruthachail mar dhràma. Bidh sgrìobhadair dràma eile còmhla route (ri dhearbhadh). Thèid an tachartas seo a chumail tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig.

 

Author Michelle Macleod and Theatre gu Leòr Director Muireann Kelly discuss Gaelic drama and the ways it can break down barriers across cultural and linguistic divides. They will also discuss in what ways drama has been impacted by the pandemic and how alternative outlets for dramatic creations are necessary. They will be joined by another Gaelic drama writer TBC.  This Event will be in Gaelic.

 

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Storytelling & Place 4: Boddam with Pauline Cordiner

Sunday 26th Sept. 5.15pm BST
(Online)

Young French film-maker Anais Fourrier follows North-East storyteller Pauline Cordiner 

One of four films made by young French film-maker Anais Fourrier following North-East storytellers Grace Banks, Sheena Blackhall, Pauline Cordiner and Jackie Ross around Aberdeenshire as they tell their lively tales in situ. 

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Neurodiversity, Disability & Creativity

Sunday 26th Sept. 2.30pm - 3.30pm BST
(Online)

Featuring creatives in dance, visual art and poetry, this panel explores the intersections between creative work, and neurodiversity and disability with Jill Boyd, Claire Cunningham and Nuala Watt.

Join visual artist Jill Boyd, dance and performance-maker Claire Cunningham and poet Nuala Watt for a panel discussion that focuses on lived experience of neurodivergence and disability and the ways this fuels and informs creativity.