From 1st December 2011 - 29 January 2012 we are bringing Scotland's historical treasures to life at the National Museum of Scotland, telling stories from Scotland's geological roots to its technological future. Treasure indeed.
|26 Treasures as an inspiration by Vivien Jones
Now the 26 Treasures exhibition is over at National Museums of Scotland, we're delighted to hear ways in which the experience of taking part in the project has inspired different writers. Several are adapting facets of the project to tie in with ongoing work...
You never can tell where a writing initiative will lead. In 2011 I worked with a group of new writers...
|Treisur by Westlothiana Lizziae as written down by Aimee Chalmers
Westlothiana lizziae (340 million year old fossil, possibly of first known lizard) is shocked to find she’s an exhibit in a museum. Only when she realises her importance to the collection in the National Museum of Scotland does she relent and agree to tell her story – in guid braid Scots.
Her story of the land’s journey from the South Pole may help...
|Touching the Past by David Manderson
Why does 26 Treasures matter? Why do museums matter, if it comes to that? Why not just record everything digitally and store the real objects somewhere else, out of harm’s way?
My treasure, the Instrument of Authority in the National Museum of Scotland, records the storage of the Scottish Crown Jewels. They were lost for a century, kept in a chest until the...
|A plea for St Andrew’s Day by Sarah Burnett
November is a busy month in Scottish politics, with every political party and politician seeking to appropriate St Andrew’s Day. If the UK or Scottish governments have a constitutional point to make, it’s safe to assume they’ll do it on 30 November. This year, Westminster and Holyrood ministers will be battling to model the kilt and fly the Saltire most patriotically...
|On second thoughts ... by A J McIntosh
At school in the 1970s, I came often into the orbit of an eccentric Maths master called Charles Kelly. 'Mother' Kelly (now dead) was a man – I imagine then in his mid-60s – of undisputed intellectual brilliance. He could win chess games blindfolded, quote extensive tracts of poetry from the English canon, and draw on a wide range of classical references which most of his...
While I was working on my piece for 26 Treasures Scotland, I was also making a BBC Radio 4 programme about a place with no artifacts; the poet Wilfred Owen's last refuge in Northern France before he was killed in the last days of the First World War. It was an art project funded by the French, but by the British artist Simon Patterson, and says something, I think, about the poetics of...
|The End of Objects by Stephen Potts
Joining 26 Treasures Scotland set me to thinking, not simply about the Cramond Lioness I was assigned, but about the museum in which it is displayed, with its widely varied companion pieces.
Museums house objects from distant eras because they are usually all that survives to tell us about the people of those times and their lives. The more remote the era the more...
|Echoes o Land an Language
One of the main characters in my recently completed novel Blackthorn is a 19th Century Traveller fiddler… part of the work is written from his point of view. I wrote that section in the Scots language.
‘Scots isn’t a language,’ someone said.
‘Just do the dialogue in Scots,’...
|The Imagined Meeting of Alexander Stuart, serf, and Sir John Erskine, mine owner. Perth Tollbooth 1701 by Vivien Jones
My forehead still reeks of cooked meat. He pressed hard, their hangman, with his branding iron. Deprived of his execution fee for all four of us, he took his revenge with pleasure. It was my vow to myself to stand and not cry out in front of the crowd but I thought he might take my eye with his anger, so I pulled back and he laughed and called me 'Coward.' I sit in this cold...
|26 Treasures at the Wigtown Book Festival
Free advice: If booked to give a PowerPoint presentation in a marquee, ask if it has ‘windows’. Those latticed, PVC arches can put paid to a couple of hours’ preparation.
More free advice: If you haven’t been to the Wigtown Book Festival: go! No festival takes you captive in quite the same way. In part because of the effort required to get there....
I first joined ‘26’ in 2005. I was concerned about the inherent snobbery I encountered in some fields of writing and also, more generally, in the press. I’ve always felt that good writing does not have to be literary – that copywriters, journalists, mainstream authors, ghostwriters and advertising creatives...