A highly interesting and unique exhibition, called Basking in the warmth of the reel, will take place at Ionad Chaluim Chille ÃŒle in Bowmore, from June 19th to 15th July 2009. The opening is on 19 June at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome.
Basking in the Warmth of the Reel is a truly innovative exhibition of art featuring work inspired by pipe tune titles and created by ten artists from the Highlands and Islands. Each artist was invited to contribute to the creation of this exhibition using media which include calligraphy, embroidery, oil painting, carving, photography and printmaking. The artists chose specific pipe tunes which they interpreted through their particular art and the fruits of this process form the basis of the exhibition. The exhibition features upwards of sixty different pieces and they are exhibited in conjunction with stories associated with the tunes and their composers.
The Highland bagpipe is perhaps the most international of traditional instruments. It is played and enjoyed in every corner of the world and its sound invariably evokes strong emotions whether they be of joy, sorrow or nostalgia. It has become almost the instrument of choice for celebration and for lamentation. Continue reading....
Arguably, the affinity between the Gael and the culture of the GÃ idhealtachd with the bagpipe is at its most potent. The celebrated priest and folklorist Fr Allan MacDonald wrote of his love for, and desire to be near pipe playing, and to be 'basking in the heat of the reel.' Fr Allanâ€™s words eloquently encapsulate the relationship between the Gael and pipe music and they have been chosen as the exhibitionâ€™s title.
The artists whose work is featured in the exhibition are Marion Roberts, Marion MacPhee, Kate McMorrine, Archie Maclean, Brian Poe, Andrew McMorrine, Paul Kershaw, Alasdair McMorrine and Cailean Maclean. They interpreted and illustrated such tunes as Crossing the Minch; Donald, Willie and his Dog; The Conundrum; Scarce of Fishing; and The Cockerel in the Creel.
Basking in the Heat of the Reel has already been shown to critical acclaim in Skye, Fort William, Colonsay and Glasgow. The Islay exhibition has received generous sponsorship from Caledonian MacBrayne.
There is a story behind each tune and a fine example is the story of the Cockerel and the Creel. Donald MacLeod was born in Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis. He became a piper for the Seaforth Highlanders in 1937, reaching the level of Pipe Major after only four years. During World War II, he served in France with the 51st Highland Division, was taken prisoner by the Germans at St. Valery, escaped during a forced march and managed to return to Scotland. In 1945, he piped his battalion across the Rhine during an assault crossing even though he had been forbidden to do this by his commanding officer. During his army career, he was highly successful in piping competitions. After the war, his genius as a piper brought him every competition honour, winning the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1947 and a year after he won the first of a total of eight Clasps at the Northern Meeting. A brilliant and prolific composer, he published six books of light music and a book of piobaireachd. The Man from Skye, Butterfingers, The Duck, MacLean of Lewis and Crossing the Minch were among his many compositions. This is how he described the genesis of Cockerel in the Creel:
'I composed that in Saskatchewan when I was attending one of the Summer Schools. When I was a little boy my Granny lived at Benside which is just on the outskirts of Stornoway and I remember her, and others, on Saturday evening with the upturned creel chasing the poor cockerel around the croft and when he was within distance, bang! There he was imprisoned until Monday morning because there was no way the cockerel could be employed on Sunday. Lewis people, as you know, observed the Sabbath â€“ even our animals did. But his protestations always amused me. I took many, many years to get a tune which sounded anywhere near the poor cockerel as he was put under the creel.' Donald MacLeod 16.6.1977, from a BBC Radio Interview with John MacFadyen.