Media Release: Sixteen projects shortlisted for Creative Scotland’s Vital Spark Awards

THE worlds of fashion, astronomy, wrestling and artificial intelligence have collided with Scotland’s creative professionals as the Creative Scotland Vital Spark shortlist and external judging panel is unveiled.

Sixteen unique collaborations have been selected for this next round of the Creative Scotland Vital Spark Awards.

Among the projects proposed are a film exploring the ascendancy of email, 75 years after the iconic ‘Night Mail’; a public art work in Dunbar Harbour; a choreographed piece based on nyctophobia (fear of the dark); and a promenade piece based on the 1960s Stanford University ‘Marshmallow test’ for four-year olds.

Chosen from over 100 applications, the 16 will now be whittled down by a panel of creative experts to receive a share of the £500,000 Vital Spark Awards. The standard of applications received was extremely high and there was an exciting mix of both established and emerging artists.

The Vital Spark Awards encourage work that goes beyond the boundaries of creative disciplines and supports collaborations between artists and practitioners working across all the disciplines. Experimentation, radical new work and innovative approaches to engaging with audiences are essential characteristics of the shortlisted projects

The judging panel will meet during February and the final Vital Spark winners will be announced on 1 March 2010. The panel comprises:

  • Chair: Phil Cunningham, traditional musician and member of the Creative Scotland 09 Ltd board
  • Julie Ellen, creative director, Playwrights Studio Scotland
  • Rosemary Lee, choreographer and collaborator
  • Mary Miller, director, Stavanger2008, European Capital of Culture
  • Damien Smith, director of ISO (digital media studio) and Central Station
  • Luke Sutherland, author and musician
  • Judith Winters, curator, Dundee Contemporary Arts
  • Neil Wallace, artistic director, De Doelen Concert Halls, Rotterdam

Ewan Brown, chair, Creative Scotland 09 Ltd congratulated the shortlisted projects and added: “The Vital Spark Awards were intended to stretch and challenge traditional creative boundaries and the 16 shortlisted projects are excellent illustrations of the breadth and depth of Scotland’s collective imagination. They are all intriguing and fascinating collaborations, rich in ideas and visions. The hard part now will be choosing the winners!

Creative Scotland Vital Spark awards:  shortlist 2 February 2010

 Collaborators: Lucy McEachan  (curator/ producer)

Catriona Duffy (curator/ producer)

Jennifer Macpherson (curator/producer)

Beca Lipscombe (fashion designer)

Lucy McKenzie (visual artist)

Bernie Reid (illustrator

Towards the cost of an interdisciplinary collaboration to present new work and ideas that examine and rework the curatorial forms and presentation of craft practice in Scotland today. Amount requested: £54,750.


Collaborators: Laura Cameron Lewis (theatre artist)

Kieran McLoughlin (theatre artist)

Andrew Eaton (musician and writer)

Daniel Winterstein (artificial intelligence developer)

Joe Halliwell (artificial intelligence developer)

Towards the cost of using pervasive theatrical experiences, theatre and artificial intelligence to create a site specific odyssey through the real and virtual spaces of Edinburgh. Amount requested: £29,150.


Collaborators: Torsten Lauschmann (artist)

Dr Jochen Ehnes (University of Edinburgh)

Towards the cost of research and development of tools to create and view site specific art using augmented reality, utilising mobile devices and video projections throughout Scotland and abroad. Amount Requested: £67,200.00.


Collaborators: The Puppet Lab – Symon MacIntyre (puppets and objects)

Wildbird – Graeme Roger (film and animation)

John Harris (composer)

Zinnie Harris (text)

Figurteatret I Nordland

Edinburgh Web Design – Colin Purves (interactive web)

Towards the cost of ‘Maid of Norway’, an animated, music-drama production with puppets and objects, viewed live and on-line by a cyber audience. Amount Requested: £90,000.


Collaborators: Raymond MacDonald (composer and musician)

Martin Boyce (visual artist)

David MacKenzie (film director)

Towards the cost of three artists (art, music and film)  joining together to experiment in new forms and produce a work that will adapt to gallery, concert hall and cinema spaces. Amount requested: £100,000.


Collaborators: Rob Drummond (theatre maker)

Scottish Wrestling Alliance – James Tyler

Lindsay Goodall (film maker)

Towards the cost of Rob Drummond undertaking a training programme with the Scottish Wrestling Alliance culminating in a work that straddles both theatre practice and authentic wrestling match. Amount requested: £60,961.


Collaborators: Gill Robertson (theatre director, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company)

Stephen Deazley (musical director)

Nicola McCartney (playwright)

Jonathan Charles (video maker)

Karen Tennent (designer)

Towards the cost of Leningrad, a large-scale event marrying a full orchestra with theatre, inspired by the 1942 performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony in the besieged city of Leningrad.  Amount requested: £100,000 .


Collaborators: Ziggy Campbell (artist/ musician)

Professor Simon Kirby (Chair of Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh)

Tommy Pearman (artist/ designer)

Adam Proctor (video maker)

Don MacLellan (web developer and technology consultant)

Towards the cost of creating a musical album that, unlike traditional recording, is constantly evolving so that every copy is unique to the time it is purchased. Amount requested: £100,000. Total project costs:


Collaborators: Gail Sneddon (director)

Digital Design Studio (Glasgow School of Art)

Athina Valha (choreographer)

Chloe Dear (producer)

Towards the cost of exploring and finding synergy between choreography, special design, sound and new technology using a study into Nyctophobia (fear of the dark). Amount requested: £49,846.


Collaborators: Mandy McIntosh (visual artist)

Kaffe Matthews (electro acoustic composer)

The Scottish Universities Physics Alliance/ Institute for Astronomy

Forestry Commission Scotland

Towards the cost of The Bothy, is an artist-conceived shelter for stargazers in Galloway Forest. Amount requested: £65,000.


Collaborators: Hopscotch Films Ltd (John Archer)

Alasdair Gray (writer)

Douglas Gordon (visual artist)

Robert Hodgens aka Bobby Bluebell (musician/ composer)

Towards a film marking the email’s ascendancy over the letter in written communication to celebrate 75 years since ‘Night Mail’. Amount requested: £100,000.


Collaborators: Ken Cockburn (poet)

Alec Finlay (artist and poet)

Towards the cost of a ‘world map’ or poetic atlas composed on journeys throughout Scotland, made available free from an innovative website and as audio at partner venues. Amount requested: £33,850.


Collaborators: Nicholas Bone (theatre director, Magnetic North Theatre Productions Ltd)

David Shrigley (visual artist)

David Fennessy (composer)

Towards the cost of developing and producing a theatre performance involving music, animation and text. Amount requested: £99,985.


Collaborators: Rob Churn (visual artist)

John Harris (composer)

Ruth Morley (musician, Scottish Flute Trio)

Janet Larsson (musician, Scottish Flute Trio)

Laura Baillie (musician, Scottish Flute Trio)

Towards the cost of a collaboratively developed animation with a live performance soundtrack. Amount requested: £95,840.


Collaborators: Xana MacLean (director and performer)

Dougal Marwick (music and sound)

Katy Wilson (visual artist)

Morna Pearson (playwright)

Michael Blyth (playright)

Caro Donald (Creative producer)

Lewis Carmichael (film maker)

Dr Dan Wilson (Chemical Physicist and Statistical Analyst)

Towards the cost of ‘The Marshmallow Test’ an interactive devised and text based promenade performance aimed at audiences 14+ exploring ethics in the 21st century through a contemporary magical aesthetic. Amount requested: £38,700.


Collaborators: Donald Urquart (visual artist)

Chris Rankin and Kenny Fraser (landscape architects)

East Lothian Diving Club

Towards the cost of a fusion of art and landscape to create a unique public space in Dunbar Harbour incorporating projection of underwater film, ecological planting and sustainable technologies. Amount requested: £90,000.


Notes to Editors

1         Creative Scotland the statutory NDPB is expected to be formally established in 2010 and will:

  1. encourage and sustain artists and creators of all kinds
  2. ensure that their work is accessible to all
  3. ensure that as many people as possible can participate in creative activities; and,
  4. extend and increase the wider benefits of arts and culture, including their contribution to the promotion and development of our unique national culture and its wider place in the international sphere.

2         The arrangements for establishing Creative Scotland as a statutory NDPB are undergoing further Parliamentary scrutiny through the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill (published May 29, 2009). The Scottish Parliament agreed the principles of the Bill at the Stage 1 debate on 7 January 2010.

3         The Vital Spark Awards are one strand of the Creative Scotland Innovation fund. The focus of the Innovation Fund is:

  1. Supporting Scotland’s artists by funding new work, inspirational collaborations and residencies
  2. Encouraging and supporting innovative working between public agencies and artists
  3. Extending practical help to new creative entrepreneurs
  4. Supporting and sustaining Scotland’s artistic community and economy now, at this time of recession, by offering new ways of getting funds into the hands of artists and creative practitioners across a wide range of disciplines

4         Other Innovation Fund projects include:

  1. £1.5 million for the Digital Media IP Fund – this will maximise the creative, cultural and commercial opportunities presented by new and emerging technologies, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise (who have contributed £1.5 million match funding) and other investors.
  2. £1 million for the Starter for Six (S46) – an enterprise support programme for start-up creative entrepreneurs across Scotland, extending a successful NESTA programme.
  3. £750,000 for The Creative Scotland Rural Innovation Fund – a fund to support innovative, cross-agency working in rural areas.
  4. £500,000 for the Creative Scotland Partners artists’ residency fund – to provide additional innovative residencies for artists to work with communities in education, health and the environment. The Innovation Fund doubles the funding currently available from the Scottish Arts Council.
  5. An additional £250,000 for Own Art – an interest free credit scheme that encourages and makes it easier for people to buy original art and craft. This additional investment over the next two years will support a new strategy for galleries to develop online sales and promotion. There will also be new marketing campaigns that raise awareness of the accessibility of the Own Art scheme and the rewards of art collecting generally.

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