Too Fast – Slow Down, Huntly

At the weekend, the Slow Down Walking and Cycling Festival took place in Huntly. Glasgow based artist Jacqueline Donachie had developed a public art event to encourage the locals out of their cars and onto their bikes. The event actually became an immense 4-mile collaborative performative drawing by the Cycling parade. Half the bikes had an ingenious drawing device attached to them, which drew a temporary coloured chalk line as they were cycled round the town. It was a euphoric and slightly anarchic experience, as though we were taking over the town. However, unlike an outlaw motorcycle gang, it was non-confrontational, pleasant and did not scare the locals. As we cycled along, at a swift pace, the local bystanders smiled and waved at the sight of all the bikes and whistles on the sunny Saturday afternoon. The parade travelled around the town then ended in the Battlehill quarry where Aberdeenshire artist, Merlyn Riggs had laid out a High Tea, in the form of a free bar and food. All very much a New Genre Public Art relational art piece efficiently produced by Donachie and Deveron Arts. The public made the artwork by their participation. The experience was of self-involvement, like the cast of extras in a film or the chorus in a theatre play. The satisfaction was that we were supportive with our role and position. The best view seemed to be from the sky, looking down on the town, we could only imagine what it was like but perhaps this is where the art was.

Later in the afternoon in Battlehill Woods, we could just be an audience. In small groups, we were led along the path to where Catriona McKay and Alistair MacDonald as Strange Rainbow played live harp and electronics. The music started with the sounds you heard when walking from the quarry to the clearing in the woods where the performance took place. It was an intense, emotional and contemplative experience. The highly controlled music’s every note and sound selected and placed, like a form of live curating. The ambient sounds of the wind in the trees, cars on the main road and a plane in the air became fleeting parts, this was where we really slowed down.


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