World War 1 Techno Tent is centrepiece of major new exhibition in Aberdeen



 Tardis style tent transports visitors back in time at new World War 1 exhibition

An original military ridge tent from WW1 is set to play a pivotal role in a major exhibition at Aberdeen Maritime Museum which highlights the dramatic impact of the WW1 on the working landscape of this corner of North East Scotland.

Running from 12 – 26 March, Working Life to War Life, is an educational heritage project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aimed at empowering pupils from areas of disadvantage, volunteers and young people from Aberdeen, in retelling the transformation of the working lives of local people during WWI.

In partnership with the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen Arts Centre and Music Without Bars, they have taken part and assisted in workshops to help create music, audio and the physical content to transform The Tentinto an immersive WWI exhibition centerpiece which will transport visitors back to the to these turbulent times.

As well as being as an authentic and poignant symbol of the battlefield, The Tent has been given a 21st century makeover for the exhibition to bring the range of exhibits to life through an exciting mix of expressive arts and digital technology.

Explains The Tent’s creator, Scottish composer Robert Aitken: “Young and adult visitors alike will experience a hugely immersive exhibition centre piece. The actual tent we used is an authentic military medics ridge tent that has been completely adapted for the exhibition.

“It has been painted inside and out with graphic depictions of working and war life on each side of the roof panels. The interior will be a dark, slightly eerie place where various artifacts pertaining to the First World War are housed. But it is the surround sound that makes The Tent what it is.”

“Visitors firstly hear the impact of war on those at home as well as the front. Next they listen to a message from an unknown Gordon Highlander on the eve of battle. And finally, there is a tribute to the fallen as well as those who survived.”

Painstaking research has gone into the audio strand of The Tent to create authentic sound, including the recording of an actual WW1 regimental kit including, ration tins, bayonets, Lee Enfield guns and other items used by a frontline soldier circa 1916. The sounds of trams, machinery and fishing boats that were true to the period and location of Aberdeen were also recorded.

Adds Robert: “What ties the audio effects together is the wonderful narration. National storyteller, Grace Banks, takes you on the journey, whilst Great War Boy, Lewis Gibbon, truly embodies the spirit of the unknown Gordon Highlander.

“We also put a lot of work into creating a script that informs as well as tells a story. We hope people will learn a lot about this time in a very subtle way. The sum intention is to explore the emotional turmoil of war in a unique, thought-provoking visitor attraction for all ages – sometimes explosive and often moving.”

The Working Life to War Life exhibition showcase will be on open to the public at Aberdeen Maritime Museum from the 12th – 26th March 2015. Admission is free. For more information on Working Life to War Life please visit:

View an online trailer for The Tent at:

About Robert Aitken

Robert Aitken is composer and an independent new media producer and director of cultural projects at home and abroad. He specialises in communicating the unknown or lost social stories of peoples and their plight over the years to present day. He has worked with Emmy® Award winning director, Guy Perrotta, on his planned US national TV broadcast of ‘Voices Over The Water’ and is composer on Working Life to War Life . His soundtrack to the Highland Clearances, Kildonan, features newly composed and arranged pieces inspired by the launch of Scotland’s Clearances Trail. Robert also is developing a series of short filmic, sonic and musically scored episodes pertaining to the Scottish Diaspora.


About MWB

MWB assists people who have a dream to bring their digital creations alive – audio or visual. As well as a range of professional services in music and sound production MWB Education pioneers the responsible and creative use of digital media in education; opening up the understanding of music and digital technology to children and adults of any age and ability.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.

 Linzi Poppies

The various displayed pieces around the exhibition room, were created by the pupils from eight Aberdeen City schools. Topics examined include local industry, fishing and the changing role of women.

The project has seen local schools collaborate with the Reading Bus ( in uncovering the unknown, individual stories by visiting WWI related sites in Aberdeen, followed by the pupils working with specialists in class time to create various artworks

making of tent
















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Skip Change – launches

Here’s my Herald interior page from last Saturday. Love this new new ‘repurposing’ site, plus cushions from The Glasgow Art School Shop, a Banksy chair  and there’s a few suggestions for alt Christmas trees.

Remade in Britain Founder Donna Fenn in the 'Skip Room' - high res (2)

Supersized Salvage   From the discarded to the desirable, what goes around comes around in the upcycled home where everything can make a creative comeback

SKIP CHANGE  Founded by Donna Fenn, Remade in Britain is a delightful new retail platform linking customers with makers and vintage sellers who are repurposing some of the 280m tonnes of waste produced in the UK each year. Featuring 300 upcycling retailers, the site spans furniture, interiors, lighting, clothing, jewellery and accessories. The team recently created this upcycled room in a skip (


blue-raimoult-cushion (2)

The Raimoult cushion (£69) is one of several 1950’s designs by former GSA student and staff member Robert Stewart. Digitally printed at GSA’s Centre for Advanced Textiles) it is available from The Glasgow School of Art Shop, 164 Renfrew Street G3 6RQ or Every purchase supports the School, the restoration of the Mackintosh building and GSA’s next generation of budding artists, architects and designers.

Horlicks Recycled Glass Jar Light Fitting [6] (2)
Radiating recycled chic, this glass jar light fitting is moulded in the style of a vintage glass Horlicks Malted Milk storage jar with antique style jar top. Each of these light shades are handmade and supplied with an Edison Screw type bulb holder, black cable and white ceiling fitting (£39.95,

Having started life as a vintage Edwardian chair, the ‘Banksy’ chair has been reinvented with a mix of new and old features. Vintage linen sourced from 1920’s mangle cloths, provides a rugged background for the cross-stitched motif. Each chair (W 74cm x H 83cm x D 79cm) is made to order by Kelly Swallow (£1800,


The Pantone Colour Institute has just announced Marsala 18-1438 as their 2015 colour of the year. According to Pantone’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman:  “It is much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name and it’s a colour that enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability.”  Let’s hope it does what it says on the tin.


Kidsonroof Christmas Tree - 1 (2)


A DIY, needle free Christmas tree with a side order of angels, stags, peace doves, candles, baubles and a star which can be brought out every year. Made from recycled cardboard, it consists of eight panels with over 150 building pieces (

Wooden Twig Tree - £39.00 (2)

Rustic and understated, this wooden twig tree from The Contemporary Home (Height 65 cm, Width 30 cm) makes a satisfying alternative to a Christmas tree if space is at a premium. Decorate its natural branches with mini baubles or homemade paper decorations (

Bombus Alternative Wooden 4ft Christmas Tree (2)


A contemporary take on the classic Christmas tree, the Bombus free-standing wooden tree with star shaped cuts is 4ft tall and comes in a choice of  natural birch , grey, dusky pink, lilac, lime green, blue, bright pink, orange, forest green, and yellow (

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 Adam Mackintosh

Biscuits from Copenhagen

31st August 1918    Received my first parcel of biscuits from Copenhagen will expect to get one every week

I managed to buy a half of a loaf for four shillings.  Gave away a splendid wristlet watch for a few potatoes

This is an extract from grandfather’s Prisoner of War diary which spans his eight months in captivity. It’s a thin leather bound book, with entries written in cursive script in purple pencil, and was preserved by my grandmother along with a vast collection of family letters from that time. In her dissertation based on this family archive, my daughter Shona MacLeod highlights that such uncensored diaries documenting the POW experience are extremely rare.

This is a mere snapshot of my grandfather’s war, there is so much I could write about, the conditions, the brutality, the stoicism of the prisoners, but given the debate about the Sainsbury Christmas truce advert, the sentence about the biscuits from Copenhagen resonate.

So here’s a few extracts from granda’s diary. Near starvation is the thread that runs through the diary, and while Danish biscuits are something we would load into our supermarket trolleys for Christmas, for my grandfather, this weekly handful of biscuits helped to build up his strength. The diary is currently part of a World War 1 Exhibition at Timespan in Helmsdale

240023 Sergt. Adam MacIntosh

1/5th Seaforth Hrs

Stammlager: Parchim, (Meckl.)


21st March 1918

We got orders late the night before to stand to, at 4.45 a.m. as the Germans were to make this attack, at about five in the morning the German bombardment started.  I was in the front line, we were wearing our box respirators as he put over a great many gas shells which seemed to have very poisonous gas.  I got a very bad dose of it which made me put up dirty green slime and was not able to keep on the S.B.R. I was then carried or helped down to Coy HQ in the support line, about 150 yards behind the firing line, but on the way the S.B. (Stretcher bearer) and I got buried with a shell landing right in the trench, then after we got taken out another Cpl had to help me down, when I was passing one of the sections in the firing line I noticed that they got all their rifles smashed with shell fire and the trench was almost all levelled in.

We reached Coy HQ about 8.30 a.m. which was in a big dugout but there were of course no doctors there and it was impossible to get to the dressing station so I had to lie there in a very bad state got a good nip of rum which made me put up much more green stuff.  Then I must have fallen off as I remember nothing more till I heard some bombs burst in the stairs of the dugout and some time after that when I did manage to crawl up the stairs I saw that the Germans were occupying the trench so was taken prisoner.  I was taken back to near Cambrai, had to lie out in an open cage all night and I felt very bad my throat and stomach was burning.

1st April We had one meal at 6 p.m.  just a wee bit of bread and jam no coffee.

2nd Got a drop coffee in the morning

3rd Managed to get a wee bit bread of some French people staying near and also a bit turnip and carrot

4th  Same as 3rd.  Beginning to feel very weak a good many not hardly fit to walk about

5th French people stopped from giving us anything in the food line.  They had given us what they could spare although the Germans even fired on some of them

6th They threaten to stop all food for two days if we don’t behave better.

7th  Some of our party left for another camp.  One man dies of weakness and want of food.

8th  Buried him in a French cemetery

9th Had a change of guard much worse than the last one.  One of our chaps got bayoneted through the night while at the latrine.  On to the 15th no change.  Had our first bath on 17th , no soap or clean shirt only fumigated.  After marching 7 kilos without any food till 4 p.m.

17th I made two balls of thread of my hoc tops and was very lucky in getting a loaf for them at a station (Wanne).  We also had a drop coffee

July 15th Still carrying on but feeling terrible weak with want of food, hearts kept up expecting red cross parcels soon.

27th Received 3 ½ biscuits a man from Red Cross which made a good supper.  Still having sour crout for supper and water with some maize meal in it for supper.  Getting terrible thin and weak hoping food parcels soon.

31st August   Received my first parcel of biscuits from Copenhagen will expect to get one every week

I managed to buy a half of a loaf for four shillings.  Gave away a splendid wristlet watch for a few potatoes

14th September Gave away my leather jacket for a loaf

 Adam MacIntosh (1891-1965)





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Spice up our homes with decorations that keep the darkness at bay

It’s coming on Christmas and thought I’d share some of the boxes of delights featured in my weekly interiors page in The Herald magazine. Been meaning to do this for ages as I see so much in the way of heavenly houses and products. Ironic really, as at the moment, I’m between flats and sleeping on a mattress in my daughter’s living room along with Roman the cat – much more luxurious than it sounds! When I move into my new flat just before Christmas, there will be a grand fairy lights switching on ceremony.

Command_ Navy Room__041

COMFORT & JOY  Create a festive feel with minimal fuss with these ingenious adhesive strips and hooks from which remove cleanly and easily without leaving any permanent marks or damage. The Snowflake Christmas tree vinyl wall sticker is £29.95 from


Frosted Forrest -  reindeer bedding in Slate from £19 (single) Sterling Furniture

Everything’s going to be cool this Christmas with this dashing new range of Rudolph      inspired bedlinen. Comes in a slate colourway with snowflake and reindeer print and reasonably priced at £19 for a single duvet cover and pillowcase set (

Calendar Garland Lifestyle_£

If you are looking for an everlasting advent calendar that will become part of your  run-up-to Christmas ritual, this Swedish Fabric Advent Garland is both fetching and functional as you can hide little gifts in each stocking; trust the Scandinavians (£89,

Let it snow Taupe

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You need a wee bit of patience to browse Oliver Hayden’s web site but it rewards you with highly individual homeware – from the posh to the purse friendly. Switch on this Let It Snow battery operated canvas and let the LED lights shine on (£40,


Add a little Wyllie whimsy to this holiday season with a magical range of products featuring designs by one of Scotland’s most popular artists George Wyllie. The new online site features Christmas cards and prints and is the only official store for products featuring the artist’s designs which come with the Wyllie watermark of wry humour, wit and wisdom. Free postage for all orders in the UK until Christmas (


If you missed her pop up shop in Ruthven Mews, you can still order or commission the surface patterned interior and fashion accessories created by Glaswegian designer Danielle Cassells aka DanYELL, whose homey yet hip designs add individuality to any room (


Minaret_Lantern Xmas gift guide

Traidcraft, the UK’s leading fair trade organisation, has launched its Christmas catalogue. Packed full of carefully selected products created by artisans across the globe. Every product sold by Traidcraft earns producers a fair wage, enabling them to work their way out of poverty and change the lives of their families and communities (


candle lit 2 (2) high resA connected kettle which you can start from anywhere in the house. The kettle’s secret lies in its base which connects to your home WiFi network and is controlled by iOS and Android apps. Available in a choice of five skins – blue, green, taupe, red or black. It will even wake you up with a good morning greeting. (


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Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell say thank you to Helmsdale

Edwyn Collins with Findlay and Rosemary

He’s ‘got everything he needs, he’s an artist, he don’t look back.’

Bob Dylan’s words sum up the positive energy that is around Edwyn Collins who along with his wife Grace Maxwell, hosted a free screening of The Possibilities Are Endless, as a thank you to the people of Helmsdale.

As it turned out to be a complete sell out, Edwyn and Grace are reprising the occasion on 27 November at Timespan, so that everyone is included. In the audience were some of the local people who appeared in the film, as well as those who shared memories of Edwyn’s grandfather.

The tiny village on the north-coast of Sutherland in Scotland provides the backdrop for this extraordinary new film which is rapidly picking up award nominations. The film charts the incredible story of the Edinburgh born musician who had the contents of his mind effectively deleted after experiencing a stroke in 2005.

During his six months in hospital, Edwyn made a painfully slow recovery but with Grace’s help, was able to submerge himself in a landscape of memories, as he tried to unlock the story of his past. Together, Edwyn and Grace make a creative and tenacious team, and there’s not even a hint of ‘why us’.

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Edwyn formed the rock group Orange Juice in Glasgow in 1979 and enjoyed a huge hit with the song Rip It Up, while his solo hit A Girl Like You transformed him into a global pop star in 1994.

The film, from UK production house Pulse Films, opens in Helmsdale where Edwyn’s family have had a home for generations and where he spent idyllic childhood summers. Helmsdale is the word that Grace whispered in Edwyn’s ear as he lay in the coma, promising they would return there one day.


Prior to the eight-day film shoot, the film’s directors Edward Lovelace and James Hall spent six weeks in the village without a camera to get to know the community. “We wanted to meet people who have lives that weave a little in and out of Edwyn and Grace’s experience,” Lovelace explains.

The filmmakers wandered around the village, meeting various local people, some of whom would go on to appear in front of the camera, including  fisherman, William Jappy, Findlay Adams, Rosemary Findlay, Andrew Sutherland and Podi Plass.



“The local people became the best kind of line producers, finding us what we needed. We were invited to eat lobster in their houses and we even joined the rowing club,” adds Lovelace.

The film’s original sound score is written by Edwyn and is available on Edwyn and Grace are currently building a recording studio close to the family home in Helmsdale and will be moving to the village full-time towards the end of this year.

Says Edwyn: “I am so grateful to the directors for giving me the gift of this film which genuinely reflects and is a truthful account of my life.”

Adds Grace: “The directors got the idea of making the film through listening to Edwyn’s music, but the real star of the show is Helmsdale and the surrounding area. The film team was captivated by the magic of the place and really understood why it means so much to us.”

Edwyn Collins Film Special Screening in Helmsdale III

The entire village turned out for the screening and for me, the post-screening interview with Edwyn and Grace was one of the most enjoyable moments of my career.  It was be so easy to look about and savour what is an explosively successful past, but this is not how they operate and their forward thinking is as palpable as it is infectious.

I just can’t wait to see what they will do next – and the recording studio overlooking the village which is currently under construction is just the beginning.

Ed 1


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Helmsdale remembers the fallen


I walked down from Gartymore to the village this morning,  and the sun was shining down on Helmsdale War Memorial where local people were lining the path  with wooden crosses, one for the life of each WW1 solider commemorated on the memorial that also serves as a clock and beacon for fishing craft.

For the past 90 years, this memorial has defined the Helmsdale skyline and tomorrow at 10.30am we will meet at The Bridge Hotel and walk up the hill, then along this cross-lined path to remember the fallen.

These past few weeks in particular, it has been such a privilege to be involved in preparations to mark the Centenary of the Great War. Timespan archivist Jackie Aitken has worked tirelessly to put together an exhibition based on local letters, photographs and POW diaries belonging to local families.

Tonight there will be a community theatre tribute  at Timespan, Helmsdale’s War written by Lisa Macdonald, which tells with tender commitment, the stories of these service men and women, and their families.


The children of Helmsdale Primary School have all made poppies and written messages which are being pinned to each wooden cross.  Inscribed on each cross is the name of a solider commemorated on the memorial clock.

My grandfather Adam MacIntosh read out the names of the fallen at the unveiling of the clock in 1924, and tomorrow his grandchildren will be among those reading out the names on this 100th Centenary.  The names include our three great-uncles, Hugh Cameron, John Hugh McIntosh and John Cameron who was killed saving the life of my grandfather,

As I stood watching the crosses being placed on the pathway this morning, all hand-made by Mike Ellis and the local Woodlanders group, I could hear the whoops of the children playing football in the next field. I am sure the soldiers would have felt that the freedom of these youngsters to do just that, was reason enough for their sacrifice.


Hugh Cameron (1895-1914)

Prior to enlisting, Hugh, the youngest Cameron brother had worked at Shearer’s the drapers in Wick. Hugh trained with the F Company of the 5th Seaforths and was killed in action soon after his arrival in France, aged 20, at the Battle of Festubert on 15th June 1915; the very first action in which he was engaged and his body was never found. This was an unsuccessful attack against heavily defended German positions.

The planned artillery bombardment was insufficient due to a shortage of shells and that many of these which were fired did not explode.  Sir John French, the General commanding the British Expeditionary Force leaked this information to the newspapers causing a political crisis and the appointment of Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions. Hugh is remembered in the Le Touret Memorial along with 13,388 other soldiers with no known grave who were killed prior to the start of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915.


John Hugh McIntosh (1897-1916)

In the spring of 1915, when Adam’s brother John-Hugh Cameron turned 18, left his work as a shepherd to enlist with the 8th Seaforth Highlanders at Helmsdale, spending his training in Cromarty. In his early letters home, his enthusiasm, grammar and style of writing touchingly betray his young age and naivety: ‘we had a rare sail coming from Invergordon to here passing through every sort and size of ship, did you the turnips yet?’

In this era before the discovery of antibiotics, infectious disease was a major risk in closely crowded barracks and trenches. While serving in the trenches John-Hugh developed spino-cerebral meningitis and was hospitalised for several weeks.  For days on end, the chaplain who communicated with his family, Rev G S Duncan, made the two mile walk to Hugh’s bedside once and sometimes twice daily – always reciting the Lord’s Prayer with him.

The surviving letters show that he wrote to John-Hugh’s parents at least twenty-seven times over a thirty day period. These letters which came away from France and delivered to the Mackintosh home were a source of comfort to his mother, and there is a letter in her hand to her ailing son, which portrays her as a brave, strong and stoical woman of faith. Margaret was the sister of Joseph MacLeod, the Land League reformer.

When  John-Hugh Mackintosh died on the 7th January 1916, aged just 19, Rev G.S Duncan wrote to his parents: ‘After all he has come throuare lifted away.’  Duncan was later Chaplain to Sir Douglas Haig and subsequently Professor of Biblical Criticism from 1919 to 1954 and Principle of St Mary’s College, St Andrews University from 1940 until 1954.


John Cameron (1892-1916)

Sgt. John Cameron, the eldest Cameron brother, worked as a keeper on Kildonan Strath before the war, and like his brothers, Hugh and Tom, trained with the 5th Seaforths in Bedford.

John came across an agricultural diary in a farmhouse in an abandoned French village. It still contains beautiful French postcards and brief diary entries written by its previous owner, a French farmer. John kept the diary for over a year and it documents the war as he experienced it. The diary ends during a period of leave in Kildonan in January 1916 and it seems likely that its preservation was due to it being left with family members at that time.

It was during the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel in November 1916 that John was killed saving the life of his friend Adam MacIntosh by dragging him to safety. At home John’s death was described in the Northern Times as ‘a heroic sacrifice for his King and country’.  His name joins the hundreds of others of British and Commonwealth soldiers on the Thiepval Memorial to the ‘Missing of the Somme’














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Fuschia Perfect – Zandra Rhodes interview

Zandra_Rhode_current_portraitZandra’s designs have been worm by Debbie Harry, Freddie Mercury, Helen Mirren, Kylie……….

It’s not every day you meet a fashion icon but when I was back in Glasgow last week I had the good fortune to interview Zandra Rhodes, or Dame Zandra as she is soon to become.

From my perspective as a teenager in the Scottish Highlands in the early 70s, Zandra might as well have been living in a pink space capsule with an alien in-crowd. Her very name was a by-word for cool as anyone beginning with Z was thin on the ground in those avocado tinted days.

I was expecting to meet a hyper-talented version of Patsy Stone, full of anecdotes of the 60s and 70s. This after all is the woman who designed a pleated lurex top for Freddie Mercury.

In terms of exotic, Dame Zandra doesn’t disappoint –  the trademark fuschia bob; costume jewellery of an industrial scale; and a beautifully constructed blue and orange print dress which looked as if it had been fitted on to her delicate frame with a sugar spinner.

You can tell from her purposeful bustle that in spite of the plumage, here is a grafter – self-disciplined, approachable and grounded, with just a wisp of vulnerability which makes her even more engaging. It speaks volumes that her seamstress, Frances, has been with Zandra for 32 years, although she is quick to point out that she also nurtures new talent.

She’s in Glasgow to launch her new bedlinen collection at Sterling and for Zandra, designing textiles for the home is a wish fulfilled.“I trained in printed textile design at Medway College of Art and then at The Royal College of Art in London in the 1960s,” she explains.  I loved what could be done by printing on fabric and turning it into something else,”

“I tried to sell my textiles but no one wanted to buy them, so I started to make dresses to show how the textiles should look. Now I’ve come full circle coming back to interiors after a lifetime in dresses.”

“I usually work with my sketchbook and coloured Pentel pens, doodling and trying colours out on paper – I’d much rather do that than work on a computer, but I’m also very excited by what can be done digitally, allowing you to go round the actual shape of the dress.

“Collaborating on the bedlinen collection with Ashley Wilde has been a joy. He comes to my studio and looks at all the designs I’ve been working on. There are sketches all over the wall and over 100 metal trunks full of dresses I’ve designed over the years. I try to keep one of everything; they really need to be catalogued!

“I do all my own printing on an eight yard table and the dress is influenced by the way the print wants to go. I used to cut a hole in the design and look in the mirror to see if it worked.”

Colour has been a lifelong love affair for Zandra, going right back to the days when her mother made clothes for her young daughter. Zandra believes that people are under the false illusion that black is going to make them look so much better, and feels that wearing a dress that reminds you of summer is going to make everyone feel happy.

One of the floors in her home is picked out in all the colours of the rainbow with stripes climbing up the walls. Zandra did initially create the patterns in chalk but later translated them into Amtico tiles in the same colours.

Zandra divides her time between London where home is a penthouse above  her fashion and textile museum, and in San Diego with her partner Salah Hassanein, the former president of Warner Brothers International Theatres.

Travel is as a huge source of inspiration and Zandra takes her sketchbooks with her everywhere she goes. “If I see something, I’ll stop and draw it, and make a record of it, be it Moroccan  marble or the blue jelly fish like transparent sails that get washed ashore on the beach.”

Opera is yet another passion that ignites Zandra who has designed sets and costumes for productions all over the world including the Met in New York. “Of course you have got to be careful not to go over the top, as there’s enough of that going on in an opera.

“I love that it’s larger than life as on the stage a bold dramatic print doesn’t look  that way. It’s also a great feeling to design something that will make the singer feel wonderful and glamorous when they are singing their heart out.”

“The thing about fashion is that if you do a wonderful dress and someone famous is photographed in it, then people will know about it. It’s always heartening when someone says they appreciate what you do as that keeps you going.

“I consider myself to be so lucky to be doing my work and when I get up in the morning, I can’t wait to do it.”

Zandra is a great admirer of Scottish designer Christopher Kane and would love to meet him. She tells me that she has yet to work with tartan or plaid as she call it. A Zandra Rhodes tartan?  We’d all say yes to that.

Zandra Rhodes Milo




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Helmsdale’s War

ltor Hugh, Tom, John Cameron of Kildonan (2)

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5000 Doonhamers turn the tide in Dumfries


First Minister Alex Salmond joined over 5000 spectators on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries on Saturday 13 September to watch an annual sailing race which only takes place on the highest tide of the year.

The ‘Nithraid’ event celebrates the past, present and future role of the River Nith in the flourishing of Dumfries as the Regional Capital of South West Scotland and is designed and organised by The Stove Network artists’ collective.

The crowd lined the banks of the Nith for over a mile, while 100 people took part in a procession with a ‘Salty Coo’ through the town and down to the river to welcome the boats. The First Minister dropped in unexpectedly and addressed the crowds form the ancient Devorgilla Bridge.

Salty Coo

The race was conceived as a sailing dinghy race, but any form of boat, and any form of propulsion except engines can compete. The race symbolises the historic role of the River Nith as a trade route and communication link between Dumfries and the rest of the world.

In spite of tricky light winds, 12 boats completed the race, a feat only made possible because of the short window of water depth afforded by the highest tide of the year. The ‘Salty Coo’ was raised on a ‘Coo Delivery Mechanism’ and lowered and released into the water by the crew of the winning boat.

Lead Artist for The Stove Network on Nithraid, Matt Baker said: “Nithraid was a day of hope and positivity in Dumfries, with Doonhamers claiming back the riverside in fine style. What we all saw today was the enormous potential of the riverside as a vibrant public space – hopefully its days as a gloomy car park are numbered.

There were so many families on the Mill Green that there was hardly space for anyone else to set up their picnic – a little imagination goes a long way in reclaiming our towns as places for people.”

The Stove Network is a community of artists that work collectively and collaboratively to organise public art events for the people of Dumfries.  For more details about the Stove, the artists and their previous projects, please see the website:  The Stove Network has over 100 members and is a registered charity, SC044947.

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The Highest Tide of the Year

 Salty Coo dunking - Oriel Marshall


       Rare opportunity to see river used as a navigational space for craft

On 13 September, the highest tide of the year, over 2000 spectators, up to 50 sailing boats and a Salty Cow are expected to converge on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries for Nithraid –  an annual sailing race.

Designed and organised by The Stove Network artists’ collective, Nithraid celebrates the past, present and future role of the River Nith in the flourishing of Dumfries as the Regional Capital of South West Scotland.

‘The dangerous race’ starts at 1.15pm from Carsethorn on the Solway Firth 10 miles or so up the River Nith, and finishes at around 3.45pm at the Caul on the Whitesands in the heart of Dumfries. A newly commissioned temporary artwork will be installed to mark the finishing line.

Competitors must negotiate the currents and obstacles, including three low bridges, on their way up the river to transport their art cargo. The journey is only made possible by the influx of salt water brought up the channel by the high tide of the Autumn Equinox.

The boats will be welcomed by Doonhamers (people of Dumfries) with a carnival band playing specially commissioned music to accompany the Salty Cow in a festive processiondown to the water around the bridges.

The Salty Cow will be raised on a sculptural platform in the middle of the river to await the winning skipper who has the honour of releasing it into the water where its salty shell will dissolve.

Designed by artist Stan Bonnar, the cow has been out to pasture since last year’s event but has been herded back to regrow its salty coat and take swimming lessons in preparations for the 2014 race.

Mark Zygadlo, Stove member and the race organiser says: “The Nithraid is a really exciting event for sailors. It was conceived as a sailing dinghy race, but any form of boat, and any form of propulsion except engines, will be allowed. The race symbolises the historic role of the River Nith as a trade route and communication link between Dumfries and the rest of the world.”

Brand new for this year’s Nithraid is a street market and food stalls on the Whitesands where, amongst many other things, visitors can try their hand at metal casting, knot-tying, wall climbing, carrying babies in a nautical sling, a fire engine and fire boat, skateboarding and Roller Derby

Nithraid is completely free of charge and is supported by Nithsdale Area Committee, Creative Scotland, Holywood Trust, ‘In Our Town’ and  Local Businesses. The event would not be possible without the involvement of local people such as Nith Navigation Commissioners, Sleeping Giants, Doonhame Derby Dolls, skateboarders, Scouts, Sea Cadets and sailing clubs.

Explains Linda Mallett, member of The Stove’s Curatorial Team: “The river is sometimes viewed in a negative light due to regular flooding. It’s a situation that has gone on for about 30 years and the town’s riverside has been left neglected.

“Our feeling is that we should start working with what we have by encouraging people to use the space as it is now. We are doing this by demonstrating the enormous potential of the areas around the river as public spaces and the beauty and potential of the river itself.

“This will bring about grassroots improvements and momentum for how the space ultimately develops.”

The Boat Race starts at 1.15 from Carsethorn. Activities start at the Whitesands at 2.30 pm with boats expected to arrive by 3.45pm with the event wrapping up by 4.30pm.



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