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Festival in the Field returns to Alness on Saturday as Unexpected Garden activities continue to blossom with broad line-up of talent and activities

By Hector MacKenzie

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Belal from Syria on oud. Picture: Gary Anthony
Belal from Syria on oud. Picture: Gary Anthony

THE Festival in the Field series continues in an Easter Ross town with an open invitation to all to attend the free event.

The Unexpected Garden is a collaboration that involves Dingwall-based arts organisation Feis Rois and local volunteers.

The patch of land at Teaninich Industrial Estate has been transformed as part of a community project to encourage people to grow and cook their own produce.

The Festival in the Field series ­— running on Saturdays up until September 10 – are a combination of music performances, workshops and food.

Feis Rois posted: "Come and join us for our next Festival in The Field event from 12pm - 4.30pm this Saturday. We have a jam-packed programme of music, food and workshops for people of all ages every Saturday in August.

"We also have a Growing Club every Thursday. All welcome!"

RELATED: 180 people turn out for Festival in the Field

What's on this Saturday

Invergordon artist Liam Ross is the musician in residence at the event. Picture: Callum Mackay
Invergordon artist Liam Ross is the musician in residence at the event. Picture: Callum Mackay

Musical Storyboards

12pm – 1pm (and repeated 3pm – 4pm)

Led by musician, Liam Ross and storyteller, Lizzie MacDougall, this workshop is open to anyone who would like to take part – young or old. There is a deep well of local stories in the Highlands and using Lizzie’s Highland Story Quilts – beautiful quilts made from fabric scraps that celebrate stories, folklore and the magic of storytelling in bringing people together – you will create a soundscape, or soundtrack, for a local story.

The music created will be played live to Lizzie telling the story. No previous music experience required!

Floral Printmaking

12pm – 4.30pm

Throughout the afternoon, join Emerging Creative Producer, Haley Shepherd to create a print to take home. You will explore the garden to choose the flowers you would like to use for your individual print. Open to all ages.

Woodland Adventures 12pm – 2pm (and repeated 2.30pm – 4.30pm)

Open to young people in P4-7, you might learn some easy knots to construct your own natural shelter with scavenged materials; put up (and chill out in!) a hammock; have a snack under your own tarpaulin shelter; make rope ladders or tyre swings; create musical instruments from sticks and branches; use clay to make “tree faces” - guardians of the woods with special powers; bring out your inner detective to spot clues to solve nature’s murder mysteries… and more!

Wear suitable clothes for being outdoors - remember sun cream and a hat for warm days and waterproofs and wellies if it is wet. Join Julie and Gregor for some minibeast hunting and craftwork.

Places are limited for this workshop. Book a space in advance by emailing Haley.Shepherd@feisrois.org or you can chance your luck on the day!


Belal Shtat

12pm - 12.45pm

Belal Shtat is from Syria and now lives in Dingwall. Belal has been playing the oud for several years and, as is often the case in Scottish traditional music, he learns by ear and doesn’t read music. Belal is self taught and will share his beautiful native Syrian music in the Unexpected Garden.

Rachel Hair

1.00pm – 2.00pm

“A superb Highland Harper” (BBC Radio 2) Rachel Hair is ““One of the UK’s finest contemporary Celtic harpists and tunesmiths” (Songlines).

Originally from Ullapool, she learnt to play the clàrsach through the work of Fèis Rois, has released 6 critically acclaimed albums and regularly tours throughout the world both as a soloist and with her guitar duo partner Ron Jappy.

Liam Ross

2.15pm – 2.35pm

From Invergordon, Liam is currently Musician in Residence in the Unexpected Garden in Alness. He has been leading workshops and composing new music in response to the growing. Liam is a superb fingerstyle guitarist and a highly versatile musician. He recently gained an MA in Music and the Environment from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Fèis Rois Ceilidh Trail

2.50pm – 3.30pm and 3.45pm – 4.30pm

The Ceilidh Trail is a professional development opportunity for outstanding young traditional musicians, providing them with the chance to participate in a summer tour, with support from a team of professional musicians and specialist tutors. Having performed in venues across Scotland and at major festivals including Belladrum, Sidmouth Folk Week and Cambridge Folk Festival over the past four weeks, this year’s cohort are finishing their 2022 tour in the Unexpected Garden this afternoon.

There are 12 musicians taking part in the 2022 Fèis Rois Cèilidh Trail.

They will perform in two groups:

Highland musicians Eoin Cumming (Gairloch), Freya Taylor (Black Isle), Anna Scott (Skye) and Sheena Peteranna (Uist) are joined by young musicians representing Fèis Rois partner organisations, Cassie de St Croix from Wales and Charly Curry-Brown who was nominated to take part in The Ceilidh Trail by Cambridge Folk Festival.

The second group includes Jamie Clarke (Invergordon), Matthias Hamilton (Inverness), Kate MacLeod (Inverness), Calum MacKinnon (Skye), Elissa Hunter-Dorans (Inverness), Iain Hyslop (Avoch).

Event information here.

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