The 2020 Festival Archive


Following the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020, unable to stage a live event, we held a mini online festival, including an Open Exhibition on Instagram. Nairn textile artist Susie Alexander's 'The Breath of God was Upon the Waters' was our cover image.

The event, which would have been the 17th annual live festival, featured online talks by writers including award winning author and poet Gerda Stevenson (‘Quines’), and Inverness-shire based crime writer G. R. Halliday (‘Dark Waters’), poetry readings, an open art exhibition, music and art workshops, portrait sketching via Zoom, virtual tours, and online workshops by critically acclaimed authors for local schools.

The festival’s title ‘Tide In, Tide Out’ reflected the fact that many local residents and visitors to the town find solace by the sea here in Nairn - there was something reassuring about the constancy of the tide in the strange and uncertain situation we found ourselves in following lockdown.

Prizewinning author Cynthia Rogerson (‘I Love You, Goodbye’) discussed the art of writing about real life experience, with readings from her own memoirs. Other authors included Victoria Whitworth (‘Swimming with Seals’), crime writer James Andrew (‘Murder in a Suitcase’), Gaelic author Iain Urchardan (‘Air An Oir’), and Nairn-based poet and author Kate Ashton (‘Who by Water’). Drumming expert Simon Greenhill of Daddy Funk Drums presented a masterclass performance on the history and progression of urban rhythm. There was an online open exhibition with work by artists from the North and North East of Scotland, and portrait sketching offered via Zoom by artist and popular festival regular William Mather.

Audiences enjoyed a virtual behind-the-scenes look at work in progress at Black Isle Bronze, Nairn’s fine art bronze foundry, while local traditional music group Fèis Nairn contributed a short film giving a taste of the talents of local Fèis musicians.

Local primary and secondary schools were visited virtually by author Helen Sedgwick (‘When the Dead Come Calling’) and author and illustrator Kate Leiper (‘The Buke of the Howlat’, ‘An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures’).

The festival was gratefully supported by Creative Scotland through the National Lottery, the Highland Council, and the Gaelic Books Council.

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