CIYC: Iain Hyslop

Iain Hyslop writes about his Creative in your Community project, which explores his ancestry and Gaelic and Scots music.

The Journeyman


“The Journeyman” is a short film created as a part of the Highland Youth Arts Hub’s “Creative in Your Community” project that explores the life of my ancestor who was a travelling seafarer around Scotland over a hundred years ago.

As well as learning more about my ancestry, this project has helped me to work independently as a solo musician and with industry professionals to create a heritage film with a traditional soundtrack that focuses on Gaelic song tradition and contemporary folk song.

Initially, I thought that the outcome of the project would have been simply focused on standalone traditional music performance. However, I think that the story narrative of the finished film, writing a script and implementing archive recordings alongside former shipyard workers interviews have given me a new perspective and motivation behind performing and engaging with traditional music.

In piecing together the film, I gained some valuable experience working with a camera for footage in the final film. I was unable to find archive video footage within budget, I originally thought footage of coastal boats around the West of Scotland or a look into the urban industry workers would be great for the film aesthetic. So, I decided from discussions with my mentor to experiment with more abstract methods of storytelling by relating the journey of my ancestor to recurring themes of the sea, water and travel.

I think that exploring Gaelic song/tradition as a part of the short film has been interesting for my song practise and I would hope that this project could encourage more new Gaelic learners to get involved and help to preserve the tradition.

I really enjoyed speaking to the Clydeside workers through interviews, hearing their genuine experiences and what their working background has meant to them has been really great.

One of the participants actually now lives on the Black Isle and I didn’t realise until when I enquired to friends about getting in contact with Clyde workers as part of the film project. I hope that the story of the film that has the recurring theme of their own positive experiences of community identity will connect to potential audiences effectively.

I found recording the soundtrack enabled me to continue creating new music and meet other freelance artists that have equally been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. As my first solo artist recordings, having support from Graeme Roger on film and editing and Barry Reid on live sound and mixing/mastering has given me the opportunity to gain experience as a musician and gain experience in other practical areas like planning, organising and collaboration.

Receiving mentorship with Julie Fowlis has really benefitted my project. In the mentor meetings, advice has been clear and constructive, I think Julie’s experience has helped me to think more and overcome tough challenges that can occur when starting new creative projects. Overall, I feel that I’ve become more confident and I think that I will be able to continue to build on these skills in future freelance work.

Through Creative Conversations, I believe I’ve gained new insight into topics that I hadn’t considered in depth previously. It’s been useful to hear about new art-forms through the different participants on the “Creative in Your Community” project and the guest speakers have helped me to think more on topics like making the arts more inclusive, carbon emissions and fieldwork.


Check out Iain’s films below: