Launching the Cairngorms Commonplace Book

We’re hosting a special event at the gallery this week – the launch of the Cairngorms Commonplace Book.

This project by Cairngorms Connect has been in the making over the past year. Artists Elizabeth Reeder and Amanda Thomson have worked with local communities to create a collection that creates a snapshot of the landscape.

A Commonplace Book is a compilation of writings, images, and documents collected by a gathering of people to show a place at a particular time. Traditionally they’ve held recipes, a record of plants in the area, details of walks, lists of residents or land registries, folktales, and other documents that give an understanding of a place. Sometimes they were bound, sometimes they were gathered into a folder or a box.

More than 50 people submitted paintings, photography and writing to be included. These pieces will go on display at the studio on Saturday March 23, with a drop-in event from 1pm-4pm.

The event will also create a kist to hold the submissions – a willow basket, with guidance from expert willow weaver, Helen Jackson.

Elizabeth Reeder said, “People love this place and love is a great place to start to make work. It’s an excellent motivator for action, change, and hope. We wanted to create a project that allowed individuals to create something that showed their diverse relationships to and experiences of this place. We were motivated by the 200-year vision of Cairngorms Connect, and how this landscape, and people’s connections to it, could change over time. We were also inspired by the Scottish Kist – where things that are valued are communicated to, and kept for, future generations.”

Each submission is contained on one or two sides of A4 and reflects the person’s relationship to a place within the Cairngorms Connect Partnership area.

Sarah White, Community Ranger for Cairngorms Connect and RSPB Scotland Abernethy National Nature Reserve, said “This exhibition showcases a fascinating collection of people’s varied relationships to this place. Whether written, drawn, or photographed the pieces speak on a range of topics from family history and changes seen over time, to the landscape as an inspiration for art and music as well as a place where people make their home and living. A community archive that can be built upon in years to come, as we move towards our 200-year vision.”

Cairngorms Connect’s 200-year vision charts plans to restore native woodlands to their natural limits, including high-altitude montane woodland; to restore peatlands, wetlands and rivers and to build support and understanding locally, nationally and internationally.

Amanda Thomson and Elizabeth Reeder, along with Robbie Synge, are Artists in Residence with Cairngorms Connect through the Endangered Landscapes and Seascapes Programme. Throughout their residency they have been exploring the connections between people and place.

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