Creative in Your Community 2020

We have invited emerging artists aged 16 – 25 to be Creative In Your Community!

The Highland Youth Arts Hub is supporting 19 emerging artists with:

  • an award of £1,000 each
  • 12 hours of mentoring from a professional artist
  • the opportunity to take part in a series of Creative Conversations




Mentored by Anne MacLeod

Jade Hutchison

Jade is a theatre maker based in Inverness, who is going into her final year of Drama and Performance at UHI. She likes to connect stories from history and folklore with performance to create an engaging and new experience for audiences that may not reflect the typical theatre experience.  

“This funding is going to help me create an experience where the audience can simultaneously learn about Scottish mythology and spend time in nature. Based around the Ness Islands in Inverness I hope to draw a connection between the land and the people of Scotland from where these stories came from.”

“I feel ecstatic about being selected, I am so thankful for the opportunity to explore and develop who I want to become as an artist.”

Jodie Sandiford

Jodie Sandiford is a writer and aspiring composer from near Aviemore, Scotland. She writes epic fantasy novels, and short bits of music when the mood strikes. In September, she’ll begin studying at Aberdeen University to become a music teacher, but will always find time to scribble stories somewhere!

“This funding will help me to collate a magazine that celebrates how art can raise awareness about disabilities and mental health, both for creators and consumers. Hopefully, the magazine will also help other artists to build their platforms in the wake of everything going on in the world today.”

“I’m so amazed to have been selected for this project: I’ve always dreamed of my writing being taken seriously, but this has made it feel so much more real. And a little scary – but definitely in a good way!”


Mentored by Jenna Watt

Mathilde Darmady

Mathilde is an accomplished actor and aspiring director. She studied art at school winning the top prize for her near-life-size animatronic drag queen puppet. She has used Starters at Lyth Arts Centre to share performances she has made. Mathilde writes multi-layered plays that feature strong characterisation and dynamic female roles. She is Caithnessian and loves living in the Far North.

“This funding will help develop “UnCaged” which tells the story of two young people coming out of lockdown who have contrasting views on life, lockdown, and art. It looks at the importance of respectful discourse leading to an understanding of one’s fellow humans despite what feels like having wildly opposing views.”

“I am thrilled with the opportunity that Creative Scotland has given me. And I can’t wait to share my finished project with an audience.”

Keira Smith

Keira Smith is a graduate from the Drama and Performance bachelor’s degree at UHI Inverness. She has been active in amateur theatre companies for 10 years, starting in her home city of Aberdeen before moving to Inverness. Keira thinks that performance can be an empowering tool for marginalised voices and wants to express that in her work.

“This funding will help me devise a small anthology of short monologues and stories about the LGBTQ+ experience in the Highlands, in an effort to show the struggles of individuals in the community as well as celebrate and uplift these people and shed light on their experiences.”

“Being selected for this group was a welcome surprise. Obviously with the current situation, being a young person going into this industry feels more daunting than ever. I am so thankful for HYAH giving me this platform and these resources to start creating.”

Jack MacGregor

Jack is a director, playwright and maker of documentary theatre living in Inverness. He considers himself a research-led creator of work that focuses on cultural and historical fringes.

“This funding will help me develop a stage play set in the city of Inverness – exploring the unique cultural profile of the city, its inequalities, its place in Scotland, and imagine what its future may be.”

“I am so thankful to be supported by the Highland Youth Arts Hub in my work as a playwright. The Highlands have a rich history of counterculture expressed in our history and art, and I hope I can live up to that in some way by telling the story of Inverness as it exists today. More than this, I recognise this project will allow many contributors and artists to connect across the region and project the profile of the Highlands to a national and international platform.”


Mentored by Julie Fowlis

Ilona Kennedy

Ilona Kennedy is a fiddle player from the highland village of Kincraig. She grew up learning music through her local Fèis and went on to study music in Benbecula. She has been very fortunate to have learned from some incredibly influential traditional players who have gifted her repertoire, stories and the confidence to develop her own highland style. Ilona is a member of the band Hecla who are due to release their debut album ‘The Scenic Route’ this year.

“This funding will allow me to collect music from the Badenoch and Strathspey area of the highlands and make it available to anyone who wishes to access it worldwide. The project will give me the opportunity to spend time researching the traditional and contemporary music of the place where I grew up and will allow me to connect with musicians and composers who have shaped my playing. I hope that the resource will be a comprehensive representation of the music of our time and will be added to as more melodies and lyrics are composed.”

“I feel very lucky to be part of this highland based project and to give the music that has been produced in the Badenoch and Strathspey region an accessible platform.”

Chloe Bryce

Originally from Easter Ross, Chloë developed her grasp of Traditional Music through her involvement in the Fèisean movement. She went on to study Fiddle and Gaelic Song at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with First Class Honours.

“This funding will help me to deepen my knowledge of the North Highland Fiddle Tradition and to, ultimately, create an online learning resource centred around the preservation of the music, language and culture of Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness.”

“I am delighted to have been selected to take part in the Creative In Your Community project. As a recent graduate, the changing circumstances in the music industry have been daunting. However, taking part in this project will allow me to continue my musical and professional development. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to connect with other artists and to contribute to the preservation of the music, language and culture of my local community.”

Iain Hyslop

Iain Hyslop is a folk singer and guitarist from Ross-Shire. Having attended Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealteachd, Iain lives in Glasgow studying at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has performed widely across the UK and Ireland with the National Youth Choir of Scotland and Fèis Rois and performs on the current Glasgow folk scene.

“This project funding will assist a short promotional music video showcasing Gaelic and Scots culture, as these shared themes reflect on my personal ancestry – in the life of my great, great grandfather, a journeyman ship’s carpenter, as he travels between Arran, Stornoway and Glasgow in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.”

“I am thrilled to be involved with this year’s Creative in Your Community project. In future, I think this process is going to be really useful for my development as I gain new experience in solo performing and interacting with other creative individuals over the duration. This is a unique opportunity to engage in new areas in Scottish culture and create new music that offers an interesting perspective on the crossover between the diverse Gaelic and Scots traditions.”


Mentored by Joanne B Kaar

Hester Grant

Hester Grant is an Inverness-based visual artist, who grew up in Dumfries and Galloway. She graduated from Moray School of Art with a degree in Fine Art in 2016. Her practice explores the concept of “obscenity” and works across a variety of different mediums.

“This funding will help provide money for art books and postage costs to form an art theory library to support the running of my online art theory and writing book group and provide payment to artists to put on virtual art writing workshops.”

“I am so excited to be chosen for Creative in Your Community 2020. This funding is a fantastic way to bring young people together in the Highlands and I am so honoured to be part of it!”

Isabel McLeish

Isabel McLeish is based in the North-West Highlands and graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Contemporary Art Practice. Isabel will be starting her MA in Art and Social Practice this year and she is also a certified guide in the Japanese practice of ‘Shinrin-yoku’ or ‘Forest Bathing’.

“This funding will help me to develop a collaborative textile project in combination with a series of slow walks in my local landscape. The project will focus on slow, contemplative and handmade processes, connecting to nature and ideas around sustainability by using low impact, local products and the upcycling of goods.”

“I am delighted to have been selected for a place on the Creative in your Community project. I look forward to receiving the support and guidance from my mentor and the opportunity to develop a collaborative textile project in combination with a series of slow walks in my local landscape. I wish to continue to develop my artistic practice in a rural context with a focus on engaging with local communities and for the projects to have a positive social impact and this opportunity will enable me to do just that!”

Sara Oussaiden

Sara Oussaiden is a 16-year-old S6 student from the Isle of Skye hoping to study at Art School in 2021. Although primarily Fine Art focused, Sara loves experimenting with ways to express her creativity through a variety of mediums such as Sculpture, Photography, Theatre, and Literature. 

“The funding and mentoring offered through this opportunity will help me in the development and creation of my project – “From Inside”. I aim to produce a mixed media interactive installation that will prompt an open discussion in my community surrounding changes (both positive and negative) in mental health over lockdown.”

“Although a little nervous to carry out such a big project I’m so excited to have been selected and to have the support and mentoring to ensure I can carry out the project to the best of my ability. On top of all this, I’m really looking forward to meeting with the other selected young creatives and seeing how the different issues they’ve raised are expressed.”

Taylor Black

Taylor Black, 19, works as a barista in a coffee store in Fort William, but his passion lies in all things fashion, art & design. During high school, Taylor put his all into his art class, knowing from a young age that this is the field he belonged in. Taylor describes his decision to leave high school at the age of 15 to enrol in an NC fashion design course at West Highland College UHI as the best decision he could have made.

“This funding will help me raise awareness for mental health illness in small towns, which is so important to me. The funds will also help me get my name out there from a brand point of view, as coming up with my own project from start to finish about something I am so passionate about really helps me put my stamp out there to help showcase the abilities I have been developing these past few years.”

“I am overcome with excitement to be selected for this project! It almost feels like my first debut as artist designer in the fact that this is such a huge opportunity to focus and show what I can do. I love the whole process of developing a project from start to finish, and to have creative visions come to life with people that believe in what I am doing, along with guidance from a mentor, I am so thankful for.”


Mentored by Thomas Hogben

Gillie O’ Flaherty

Gillie O’ Flaherty grew up in Scourie and Ullapool on the north west coast. He plays guitar and piano and is about to
enter his first year studying Scottish Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Gillie has a real passion for photography and more recently I he has been creating videos of himself playing music during Lockdown. Gillie is also a keen sailor and cyclist.

“This funding will help develop my skills in video making using my own musical compositions. I want to create a video on the theme of ‘Sailing’ to inspire younger people from the area of Loch Broom to give sailing a go.”

“I am really excited to be a part of this project and to be mentored by Thomas Hogben to develop my film making skills and blend this with my own music compositions.”

Ruairidh Gollan

Ruairidh Gollan is a graduate of the University of the Highlands & Islands BA Applied Music course and the NCETM in Plockton. He currently is a freelance musician, teaching the fiddle and accordion and performing with the Calum McIlroy Trio. He is also on the Board of Fèis Rois.

“This funding will help me to create an 8-10 minute multimedia film about the perspectives, stories and opinions of the community of Edderton featuring the people of Edderton, video footage of the area and it’s landscapes and a newly composed and recorded soundtrack.”

“I am thrilled to have been selected to take part in this project. I’m excited to learn more about my local community and create a new piece of work that the people of Edderton can call their own. I am looking forward to learning from Thomas Hogben and hearing about the 17 other creations.”

Rowen Henderson

Rowen Henderson is student filmmaker from the Scottish seaside town of Nairn. He has a passion for youth involvement and portraying how young people feel, which often feeds into his work. This year he is doing the first year of a film production degree at Edinburgh Napier University.

“This funding will support me in the creation of a short documentary piece exploring how young people are engaging with climate change in their communities. This film will provide a platform for young peoples voices, opinion, actions and emotions towards climate change to be seen and heard.”

“Opportunities like this are so transformative for young people, I feel so lucky to have been selected and hope that I can take full advantage of this to bring the most that I can to the project.”

James Bauld

James Bauld is a flute and whistle player from Dornoch. He went to school at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, and now studies music at the University of Highlands and Islands. 

“I plan to create a short film on hospitality, and how this has changed from what my grandparents and their friends do in a close knit island community, to what we do modern city life welcoming people from all backgrounds.”

“I’m incredibly grateful for this brilliant opportunity to write some new music and develop my creative skills from an inspiring film maker.”


Mentored by Robbie Synge

Emma Ralph

Emma Ralph is a designer and animator based in Inverness and Glasgow, where she studies Communication Design at the Glasgow School of Art.

“Inspired by experimental filmmakers Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute, I will be exploring visual responses to sound, working with found sounds from the Highland landscape. Teaching basic frame by frame animation through various workshops, the work will culminate in a final exhibition and/or online showcase.”

“I feel really grateful to be a part of such an ambitious project and would like to thank Highland Youth Arts Hub for this opportunity.”

Amy Harrison & Freya Taylor (joint project)

Amy: “I am 16 and live on the Black Isle. I have done Highland dancing for 12 years, adding contemporary later on. I am also a keen fiddle player having played often since I was 8. I am really excited to work on a project combining my interests and involving the community.”

Freya: “My name is Freya Taylor. I’m 16 and live on the Black Isle. I play the fiddle and piano, and have done for the past 10 years. I also do bits of contemporary dance and am very excited to put together a project which involves both the arts and the community which I have grown up in.”




Anne MacLeod is a Highland writer whose work reflects the land, the people and the changes wrought by time and history. Her novel The Dark Ship tracked the Great War and its aftermath throughout the 20th century. Her poems are known from Salzburg to Cape Breton. She believes in words.

Jenna Watt is a multi award winning theatre maker originally from Inverness, her previous works include; Faslane, How You Gonna Live Your Dash and Flâneurs. Utilising both a directing and playwriting process, her current works explore the relationships between society, sustainability, land management, climate change mitigation and ecofeminism.
Joanne B Kaar is a research based visual artist who combines fact, fiction and folklore, often incorporating traditional craft techniques. As both participant and instigator of arts and heritage projects and collaborations, Joanne is the recipient of a Museum Galleries Scotland and Creative Scotland ‘Iconic Artists in Iconic Places’ award. She has worked in Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland, USA, Canada, Estonia, Catalonia and exhibited worldwide.
Robbie Synge is based in Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms. He makes performance, film, objects and other things rooted in choreographic thinking around the body and its meeting points and touch with people, objects and the natural and built environment.
Thomas Hogben is a Scottish based filmmaker with a passion for telling stories in an interesting and thought-provoking way. He has worked as a documentary DP on a number of BBC projects as well as had his work showcased at festivals around the world.
Julie Fowlis is an award winning singer, composer and voice artist who has performed on stages worldwide and worked on films for Disney Pixar and Dreamworks. Her own artistry is rooted in the wild landscapes of the Highlands and Islands. Scotland’s inaugural Ambassador for Gaelic, she is also an honorary Doctor of Music.