Burns Unbroke
Friday, 05 January 2018 00:04

Burns Unbroke

Published in Festivals/ Events

Picture: Calum Colvin, Portrait after Archibald Skirving.

Burns Unbroke opens on 25 January 2018 at Summerhall in Edinburgh. This new, contemporary, multi-arts festival will celebrate the variety of artistic and performing practices currently on offer in Scotland, and beyond, through the prism offered by new interpretations of the life and work of Robert Burns. The inspiration for the title comes from the epigraph, which Burns marked as ‘anon’, printed at the beginning of his first poetry collection, the Kilmarnock edition, published in 1786.

The festival‘s innovative visual arts programme features over 30 visual artists and there will be newly commissioned work by four Scottish based artists. In addition, the programme of events includes an Alternative Burns Night, spoken word performances, children’s performances and a tailor made programme of music. Interdisciplinarity is at the heart of this project and new synergies will be offered to a diverse audience, providing a unique experience of contemporary interpretations of Scotland’s national bard.

An advisory panel has been appointed for Burns Unbroke: Gerry Carruthers (Francis Hutcheson Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow), Calum Colvin (Professor of Contemporary Art Practice, Dundee University), Pete Irvine (Founder of Unique Events) and Emma Nicolson (Director, Atlas Arts).

Burns Unbroke will take place at Summerhall where the visual art will be on display in 11 galleries for six weeks, from 25 January – 10 March 2018, with the majority of performance events focussed around the weekend of 26-28 January. The exhibitions will be open to the public, Tuesdays to Sundays, throughout the six weeks and entry is free.

Burns Unbroke is a partnership between Sheilagh Tennant of artruist and Summerhall, Edinburgh’s most exciting new centre for visual and performing arts, best known for its innovative Fringe programmes.

The prime aims of Burns Unbroke will be to highlight the continuing relevance of Burns’s words and the remarkable extent of his influence as well as attracting/inspiring new, younger audiences.

Burns Unbroke runs from 25 January to 10 March 2018 @Summerhall, Edinburgh. See

National Poetry Day: Pretend
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:31

National Poetry Day: Pretend

Published in Poetry


by a postal worker

pretend that the scars on your knuckles come from boxing, not letterboxes
make out that the pains in your neck are just age, the snaps in your knees,
the feet worn rough by work shoes slanted at heels, soles like a burst couch,
front up that you’ll not get a pension anyway, you’ll be dead by 65,
kid on that nine miles, five hours in rain or sun doesn’t shatter you,
you’re not flat out on the sofa by four, you don’t panic with six door2door,
you don’t sweat in an orange coat, you drink water on your round,
you get by on more than two biscuits in an eight hour shift humping 20 kilo bags
up streets, laden with packets that need scanned and signed for
at doors that never open, being snapped at by dogs and junkies and dole wallahs,
that you never need a piss, that you brave a mid-week curry,
you’re not arsed that the holiday book is full, that you have to carry lapsing,
that the Chief Exec is on eight figures and you don’t need a raise,
that shareholder’s profits are more important than you, that you can’t go on strike
as your parents voted blue.

CWU Royal Mail potal workers walk out on strike and picket their depot

Postal workers may soon have to take industrial action to defend themselves. Dave Ward, General Secretary of the Comunication Workers Union, said this:

More than ever before, postal workers are under relentless pressure to work faster and cheaper. In local offices, resources are stretched to breaking point and delivery rounds just keep getting longer and later. This is a direct result of chaotic management planning and the wholly unrealistic efficiency targets our members are subjected to.

Yet far from being rewarded for their efforts, their terms and conditions are under attack. From April next year Royal Mail Group will be slashing pensions, leaving many postal workers tens of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement.

Their pay is being frozen while living costs continue to rise. And increasingly Royal Mail is viewing part-time, temporary and insecure employment practices that should have been consigned to the Victorian era, as the model for the future.

Because Them's The Rules, Anon, HMP Kirklevington Grange
Monday, 14 March 2016 20:24

Because them's the rules

Published in Visual Arts

'As part of a drawing project I had to draw a view from a window. Security allowed me to do this but I was not allowed to draw the wall. I decided to replace it with the lines to the outline of the wall, following the rules, but still getting the feel of looking out from a prison.'
- Anon, HMP Kirklevington Grange.

From the 2016 Koestler Award scheme for art made in prisons and secure hospitals.