The 12 recipients of a new £16,000 fund to commemorate the centenary of Scottish writer Muriel Spark have been revealed.
A co-ordinated, collaborative programme of events across Scotland’s creative and cultural community will be held on 1st February 2018 to mark the centenary of Dame Muriel Spark’s birth. She died on 15th April 2006, aged 88.
The Muriel Spark 100: Endless Different Ways Small Grants Fund is providing awards of up to £1,500 to individual writers, artists and groups looking to celebrate the work, contribution or legacy of Spark, with £16,000 awarded overall.
The money is being used to create new work exploring different aspects of Spark’s life, travel and residencies linked to places or ideas which were significant to her, or the development of other ideas inspired by Spark and which emerged from the artistic and creative community in Scotland.
The creative practices of the successful applicants run across literature, theatre, music and visual arts.
Theatre company Tidy Carnage will develop a one woman show based around a therapy/advice session from Spark herself, and actor Belle Jones and musician Beldina Odenyo will fuse spoken word and music to craft a response to Spark's short story "The Go Away Bird" - featuring issues which are as relevant to women today as a century ago.
Musician Jessica Danz will use the funding to arrange Spark's poetry into a song cycle built around the centrepiece of the human voice, to be premiered during the Hebridean Book Festival in October 2018, while artist Kristian Smith will undertake a residency in Italy to create photographic work connected to place and incorporating themes from Spark's life, to be presented in a public exhibition in Scotland.
Reflecting Spark's work as a poet as well as novelist, St Anza International Poetry Festival, running from 7th to 11th March 2018, will celebrate this by taking quotes from the introductions to Spark's 22 reissued titles, asking respected poets to respond and then presenting these works to festival audiences. Meanwhile, writer, poet and researcher Hannah Van Hove plans to celebrate the experimental elements of Spark's work by writing an experimental essay where memoir is interspersed with an imaginary conversation between Spark and fellow writers Christine Brooke-Rose, Ann Quin and Anna Kavan.
Aberdeenshire writer Shane Strachan is to use the funding to explore Spark's time in Bulawyo, Zimbabwe, with three new short stories. He will draw on the extensive Spark archives and also his own experiences visiting Bulawayo, Aberdeen's only non-European twin city. The short stories will be published by Zimbabwean publisher amaBooks and a public reading will be performed, followed by a discussion, at the Suttie Arts Space in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in conjunction with Grampian Hospital Arts Trust in Autumn 2018.
The full list of funding recipients are: Jessica Danz, Janice Galloway, Belle Jones and Beldina Odenyo, Raymond MacDonald, Theresa Muñoz, Tracey S. Rosenberg, Kristian Smith, StAnza Scotland's Poetry Festival, Shane Strachan, Tidy Carnage, Hannah Van Hove and Morna Young.
Jenny Niven, head of literature, languages and publishing at Creative Scotland, said: “We have been absolutely thrilled by the imagination, thoughtfulness and originality with which writers, artists, musicians and performers across the country have responded to this opportunity to explore what Muriel Spark’s work means to them in a contemporary context.
"The range and breadth of projects we’ve been able to support through this versatile fund is terrific and the murielspark100 program will be enhanced immeasurably by the new work. It is enormously important to us that the centenary program is forward looking as well as engaged in Muriel’s legacy and these projects do just that by giving rise to brand new and completely original work.”