EVENT: WIGTOWN BOOK FESTIVAL
By Anne Errington
During the ten-day artistic residency at Wigtown Book Festival, there were so many interesting people, ideas and events. Early on the first morning the Confluence team were interviewed by the Bookshop Band as part of the ‘Breakfast Chat Show’.
The space quickly needed to be turned into ‘Cafe Morocco’. Photography, rugs, throws, cushions, lamps and low tables were added, and the smell of mint as Houssain made Moroccan mint tea, delicious! The tea pouring ritual became one of the highlights of the event; people loved watching Houssain pour from a height and listened to it filling small tea glasses.
I told a collection of stories from Scotland and Moroccan Storyteller, Mehdi El Ghaly told ‘The Three Brothers and the Three Chests’ via video. There were Confluence questionnaires on our 7 themes and we chatted to visitors and asked them the questions, collecting research for the project.
We all spent a lot of time in the Writers’ Retreat, chatting to authors and guest speakers and asking them for their thoughts and stories around the 7 themes. For one, water was “Dangerous - the sea will have you in a minute.” For another, “ It twinkles like shining, showgirl’s spangles”. Number 3 was “Yes, no, maybe!” Happiness was to be with friends, to have no worries but “ It is so fleeting.” Some interpreted Money as feeling rich when spending time with friends or being outside, or “ The clarity of your single diamond”. People felt they were always running out of time which led nicely on to silence, where one needed time to create a silent space in our noisy, speedy, information packed age. Old seemed to be a difficult one for everyone, people mainly talked about old stories a few touched on favourite old clothes, or thinking about becoming old.
Each of us took part in the festival in different ways. Houssain and Scott were on the panel for a discussion on Gavin Maxwell’s “Lords of the Atlas.” Houssain took part in the YA Wigtown: The Festival vs Writers 2017, the two sides competed in some serious games of Charades, Pictionary and Articulate!! The YA group then invited Houssain to be on a panel of a debate on the struggles for equality. Houssain and Laura documented the residency with their cameras. Laura went to various talks and discussions and I took part in the outreach program and visited Dumfries prison, this audience had their own interpretation of the theme, time! l also had the opportunity to tell Celtic stories at the local school.
The last Saturday ‘Cafe Morocco’ was set up again, the smell of mint filled the air. Stories were told and Mehdi was present again, by video, with his story ”The Guerrab (The Water Seller)”. Our Café event was quickly followed by another which we all attended, ‘A Taste of Syria’’, the wonderful smell of spices surrounded us, and the sound of voices as people met and exchanged stories from different parts of the world.
Lastly we all went to the Wigtown Debate, where we asked the people on the panel ”What are the Stories of the Future?” The reply was “ We will weave our stories together.”