CIYC: Freya Taylor and Amy Harrison

In this blog post, Freya Taylor and Amy Harrison reflect on their Creative in your Community project.

Postcards from the Beach


We originally planned to do something around the Rosemarkie Beach memorial benches. However we soon realised the delicacies of the project. Therefore, we decided to focus on the beach in a more general aspect and the atmosphere it provides for our local community, which we felt had been particularly evident in lockdown. We decided that we wanted to create a short music and dance film to share with the community. Our piece was inspired by Rosemarkie Beach. When writing the music we thought lots about the different sounds at the beach and we wanted to compose a piece that reflected the calm nature of the beach. Choreographing the dance, we again wanted to focus on the beach. We also knew that we wanted to film at the beach, as it is an incredible natural setting, and would help people to understand what our project is all about, and we filmed in mid-November. When discussing community involvement, we decided to include postcards to get members of the community to tell us about what Rosemarkie Beach means to them. They were placed at Rosemarkie Beach Cafe and Avoch Post Office for people to fill in. In the end, our project turned out quite different from our original plan although still with the same values.

Throughout the process we have both learned so much. For both of us this was the first project, that we organised ourselves. I think the most valuable thing we’ve learned is to keep things simple, and by doing this how much more effective the art can be. We’ve learned about how to work with our community, in a way that meant they were involved but felt no pressure. We both knew very little about the technicalities of running a project, things like permission and safety. We now know how to do a risk assessment, how to write a budget, to always ask for consent and to be very clear about what you’re doing, which is valuable information for future projects. And we’ve also learned just how much time goes into organising a project.

Both of us benefited hugely from this project as it not only gave us some paid work at a hard time for many artists, but also gave us the opportunity to dance and play music together, when all the normal groups that we do this with weren’t able to happen. We involved a young local artist and gave her work during this time. We asked a local sound engineer to record for us, and whilst he asked us not to pay him, he said that it was so lovely to be part of something again, and that he was delighted to be back in the studio. The Beach Cafe has also benefited from our project as they have said that they now know exactly what people love and appreciate about the beach. We’ve had an amazing response from the local community, who have given us feedback about the project. Many have said how lovely it is that things are still happening despite the pandemic, and people have enjoyed telling us about their memories of Rosemarkie Beach on the postcards.

We have found the mentoring from Robbie Synge incredibly helpful. It’s been great in terms of helping us to organise a time frame, budget and risk assessments, and has also helped with choreographic prompts for the final piece. He was also very helpful right at the beginning, making suggestions to help us focus on our final outcome of the project. He’s been a great teacher, and has given us lots of tips for organising future projects, as well as providing us with a couple of new contacts.

We also found the Creative Conversations to be really beneficial. The first one in particular, about the ethics of interviewing and inclusion, helped us to think about what our project would look like, and who would be involved. It’s been great to meet other young artists, albeit on Zoom, and find out what art looks like for different people in the Highlands. For our future art pieces, it’s been really interesting to find out what others have done, in terms of University, as a hobby and all the different ways that they’ve taken their art forward.

We have absolutely loved doing this project, and are so grateful for the opportunities it has provided to create and share the art we love.