Seas of the Outer Hebrides
We believe that collaborative, creative approaches can support knowledge-gathering and problem-solving processes, particularly, but not necessarily, where participants have different backgrounds, interests, expectations or hopes. They can work particularly well in community consultations to bring together community members and local government or organisational teams wanting to create a shared vision.
In 2019, Creative Carbon Scotland partnered with the Marine Protected Area Management and Monitoring (MarPAMM) project to bring inclusive, creative approaches to the Seas of the Outer Hebrides (SEASOH) project. Our involvement arose from the project team’s desire for an inspiring, different and accessible way to work with the Outer Hebrides communities. We are proud to be supporting their key aim – to build a shared vision for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the region – by involving artists and creative practices to help explore the cultural dimension of residents’ relationship to their seas.
MarPAMM is a cross-border environment project, funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, to develop tools for monitoring and managing a number of protected coastal marine environments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.
The SEASOH project will deliver a regional management plan for the Outer Hebrides Marine Region, putting communities and people at the heart of the process and building consensus on the future management of MPAs in the islands. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Marine Scotland, NatureScot and the University of the Highlands and Islands are supporting the delivery of effective MPA management.
We attended a series of events held by the SEASOH team during July 2019 aimed at creating an inclusive environment for listening to any views or concerns, and providing information about the SEASOH project and its aims. During this time we also met with local artists and cultural organisations to build our understanding of existing arts activities and inform our ideas for hosting creative workshops across the Outer Hebrides.
Our first series of events were co-organised with the Hebridean International Film Festival, where we held conversations alongside film screenings, connecting the film festival themes, ‘Islands, environments and remote communities’, to community members’ perceptions and experience of the marine environment. Participants also contributed drawings to a short animation produced following the festival themed around the local marine environment.
In February 2020, we co-ordinated a series of family friendly, creative workshops on Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist with local artists Kirsty O’Connor (North Uist) and Sandra Kennedy (Lewis), alongside the Seas of the Outer Hebrides team. These workshops interwove creative activities, including mono-printing using found objects from the shoreline and origami paper boat making with conversations about marine protection, what benefits communities derived from the sea, and their hopes and fears for the future.
Through these events and an online community survey the SEASOH project was able to gain a deeper understanding of communities’ priorities for the marine environment as well as the less tangible aspects of peoples’ lived experience and relationship to the sea, which will inform the development of marine management plans that reflect the interests and concerns of communities living and working in the Outer Hebrides.
We are continuing our discussions with the SEASOH team, despite a pause in progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update this page to coincide with the project’s progress as it occurs.
SEASOH is part of our culture/SHIFT programme.
The SEASOH logo was created by Loom Graphics, an independent graphic design studio based in the Outer Hebrides.
Image credits: Seilebost beach, Isle of Lewis – Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash; workshop images – Creative Carbon Scotland