Scottish Registered Charity No.003688 Foulis Castle Evanton Ross-shire Scotland IV16 9UX © 2020 Clan Munro (Association)

CLAN MUNRO ASSOCIATION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HEARTSTONE

In the wake of the 2019 International Clan Munro Gathering at Foulis Castle and the fabulous Heartstone wildlife exhibition, drawn from the Cùra archive, I approached Nick Sidle, phtotojournalist, and Sita Kumari, director, of Heartstone and professional Indian dancer, to consider a Wildlife project in partnership with Clan Munro Association for the Clan Munro heartlands.

They had already achieved a similar project in Glen Convinth a few years earlier. Heartstone agreed and duly applied for funding for exhibitions, school workshops and storytelling through their Cùra Exhibition initiative drawing on the connection between wildlife, landscape and historical folklore.

Funding was procured through the Cromarty Firth Port Authority, The Northern Meeting, the Clan Munro Association, as well as Novar Estates and Foulis Farms in kind.  

We had the project planned and then Covid arrived with Lockdown so between March and July very little could be achieved. However in early October finally with a portfolio of stunning photographs of local landscape, plants and animals captured by Nick Sidle, Sita Kumari organised an online schools’ workshop. This included a presentation on seals from The Lighthouse Field Station, Aberdeen University by Professor Paul Thompson and a presentation by Tom Prescott (Senior Conservation Officer with Butterfly and Moth Conservation, SNH) on insects. Sita Kumari, professional Indian dancer with superb hand movements presented the Elephant Hawkmoth which linked to Indian folklore. Hector introduced the audience to Clan Munro and Foulis Castle and I played traditional music in the big drawing room with fellow musician Melanie Simpson on accordion and her son Quinn on guitar between the presentations using music connected to the landscape and animals of the Highlands. The audience not only included people from the Highlands it also included an audience from Singapore and India.

Later, in November for Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, the Project put on another schools’ workshop which was described as ‘inspirational and uplifting’. Heartstone not only brought people of the Highlands including the Edinburgh Inter Faith group together it linked with the American Native Indian tribes and India through an animal found all three locations – the badger. Iain MacIlleChiar, Gaelic speaker welcomed the assembled representatives of the Native American tribes – Crow, Assiniboine, Cree, Blackfeet, Sioux and Lakota tribes brought together by the Rocky Mountain Tribal leaders. The central role of the badger and the natural world followed in traditional stories and their use of it n the building of their Lodges. Terry Tatsey of the Blackfeet tribe shared the difficulties of preserving cultural traditions including their language in a world where families still have to live with the split which followed the creation of the 49th parallel in 1846. Sita Kumari, presented the story of Cùra, the Scottish badger character in the Heartstone Odyssey series.  I presented several Highland medical herbs and their uses connected to the Festive Season found on Foulis. Hector stressed the importance of the environment to the people of the past and present and his hopes for the future, highlighting the need for greater communication in a globalised world. He spoke of the need to protect and preserve the environment and the impact of climate change already being seen in his daily life as a farmer in the Highlands. He stressed that the contact with the Native American Indians was inspiring as they share so many values, ancient traditions and tragic history with the Highlands.

Sarah (Alpha) Munro

December2020

Recording of the Diwali Event: http://img.gg/x7l91hp

‘Planted for Life’ and Flickr documentary section at the link:https://nicksidle.myportfolio.com