British awards for Lewis Storytelling Excellence

Lewis Storyteller Ian Stephen sparks the imagination of island school pupils through the 'Acts of Trust' project. Photo: Christine Morrison.

Lewis Storyteller Ian Stephen sparks the imagination of island school pupils through the 'Acts of Trust' project. Photo: Christine Morrison.

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‘ACTS of Trust’, a project initiated by Western Isles Libraries, has won the ‘Multi-Arts’ category in the British Awards for Excellence in Storytelling as results of nationwide voting were announced in a ceremony in York last weekend.

The project was devised by Lewis Storyteller Ian Stephen and visual artist Christine Morrison, and was supported by Shetland Arts who developed and administered a series of five Reader in Residence posts throughout Scotland last year.

Workshops carried out with schools in the Western Isles were based on three key stories: ‘The Bag of Winds’ – from The Odyssey of Homer; ‘The Three Knots’ a traditional tale from the Monach islands; and ‘Kingfisher’, Ian’s own story based on a tradition recorded in the JF Campbell collection of folklore.

These resulted in a huge number of drawings, and a selection of the images has been bound, with short texts, into a hand-printed and hand-bound book.

The two artists would like to thank all at Western Isles Libraries who were involved in the project; the school teachers who gave such strong support, and the pupils themselves who produced their own versions of the stories.

“We were also privileged to be there [at the Awards] when Sheila Stewart was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” the pair said.

“She accepted it on behalf of the wider community of travelling people who have been the holders of so much of our culture of songs and stories.

“Sheila sang a generous and humane song of friendship to end the official(ish) part of the evening and we were conscious of the happy ghost of Hamish Henderson in the company.”

Warm thanks are also given by Ian and Christine to everyone who voted for the project as they added: “There was a huge number of votes cast, but we were told that the voting was neck and neck in our category, so every single vote really did count.”