Heilan’ Way Symposium – Deveron Arts – 14th/15th November 2014
I'm just back from a very interesting two days in Tomintoul at The Heilan' Way Symposium, its remit being to
‘explore the human, cultural and environmental heritage of lesser known regions from near and far.’ 
After a day of walking in the early winter weather of the Cairngorms with
artist and dancer Simone Kenyon, Gavin Pretor-Pinney from the Cloud Appreciation Society and Steve Brown, Forester we were all dried out and refreshed for a day of talking; admirably Chaired by Professor Tim Ingold of Aberdeen University.
One of the highlights for me was the performance and discussion surrounding Paul Anderson's Heilan' Way Symphony commissioned by Deveron Arts. I’ve heard Paul play a number of times since moving to Huntly, and on every occasion his musicality and storytelling reduced me to tears. He told us through phrasing and tempo about the life of a drover and his beasts; colours, landscapes, views. This way of life was translated by Paul into musical form and emotional substance. I could feel the swish of the beasts’ tails, the sway of the winding route and the sound of feet on stones and in mud; his music swathed us in the warmth of a late summer evening. Musical poetry.
Inspired by Paul’s talk and performance I started to think about my project for Rhynie Man and how using a structure such as a symphony could help organise the following months work, thoughts and ideas. Combining this structure with my ceramics tutor’s call of ‘create visual poetry’ the narrative for Rhynie Man emerged.
We are in a period of absence and there is an emerging realisation that we want him back; there are only traces of his presence in the village, written in books and discussed by specialists. The second movement is an invitation; a love story over distance and with no access to technology the only way to communicate is in person, with a messenger or by writing. The next movement leads into planning and carrying out the journey home: What route will he take? Where could he visit? Who will he meet? What challenges will be ahead? How will he get to Rhynie? And finally his homecoming; how will it be celebrated and recorded, what will we dance to, dress like, eat, drink and sing? Welcome Home Rhynie Man.
 (Deveron Arts, 2014)
 (Kenyon, 2014)
 (Cloud Appreciation Society, 2014)
 (Aberdeen University, 2014)
 (Anderson, 2014)
 (Deveron Arts, 2014)
 Paul has written a Strathspay for Rhynie Woman, he performed it in the Kitchen of The Stewarts Hall at the Summer Ceilidh Rhynie Woman were hosting. We were reduced to tears with his impromptu generosity and the ‘story’ the music told through the vibration of air. He characterised the Rhynie Woman as a Strathspey, which is an exaggerated and slow tune characterised with a Scottish ‘snap’. One of the oldest and traditional forms of Scottish Dance Music. Capturing Rhynie Woman perfectly.
 Archie McColl, Ceramics Tutor at Glasgow School of Art.