An Lanntair takes part in 14-18 Now’s final season of Commissions IN SCOTLAND TO MARK FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY

  • Published on: 22nd January 2018
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“The Iolaire disaster stretches our vocabulary to its limits and can only be articulated further through art.” – Roddy Murray, An Lanntair’s Head of Visual Arts and Literature & Founding Director

14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary, today announced details of major events and new commissions taking place across Scotland in 2018.

14-18 NOW has commissioned over 150 artists and organisations, working across all art forms, to take part in its closing programme from March – November 2018John Akomfrah, Danny Boyle, Peter Jackson, William Kentridge, Akram Khan, Anna Meredith, Jenny Sealey, Selina Thompson, Gillian Wearing and Rachel Whiteread are among the artists and performers who will take part in 14-18 NOW’s final season of events across the UK, from the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall, it was announced today.

Special themes of the 2018 season include: the centenary of the Representation of the People Act which gave women the right to vote; an exploration of the impact of the First World War beyond the UK including the role played by soldiers from Africa, India and the Caribbean; and the centenary of Armistice on 11 November 2018.

14-18 NOW has pioneered a new way of marking major national moments through the arts, commissioning artists to create works that respond to different aspects of the war. The programme has aimed in particular to bring the centenary of the war alive for young people by engaging them through contemporary culture. Over 30 million people have engaged with the programme since 2014.

14-18 NOW and An Lanntair have commissioned two new suites of Gaelic music to mark the centenary of the tragedy of HMY Iolaire. Late on New Year’s Eve 1918, the ship set sail from Kyle of Lochalsh in north-west Scotland carrying nearly 300 returning seamen home to the Isle of Lewis after the war. In the early hours of New Year’s Day 1919, the boat was lost at the entrance to Stornoway Harbour and 205 servicemen perished in one of the worst maritime disasters in modern British history.

Sàl (Saltwater) is by Lewis-born piper and composer Iain Morrison, whose great-grandfather was among those drowned, and presented with imagery by pioneering Scottish artists Dalziel + Scullion (27 October 2018 & 31 December 2018). The work has its roots in ceòl mòr, the ‘great music’ of the Highland bagpipes. Meanwhile, An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave), created by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Julie Fowlis and violinist-composer Duncan Chisholm, mixes new and traditional music, archive recordings and visuals in a work inspired by John Finlay MacLeod, who swam ashore with a rope during the disaster and helped to save dozens of lives (9 & 10 November 2018).

Artist Christine Borland presents a new work at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum following a year-long research residency in Glasgow Museums, in which she focused on a range of objects in the museum’s collection that reveal forgotten stories from the First World War. The artwork, I Say Nothing (from 12 October 2018), will explore the potential for a simple object to embody meaning far beyond its humble form or material.

Artichoke and 14-18 NOW invite women and girls to come together on the streets of Edinburgh to take part in PROCESSIONS (10 June 2018), a mass participation artwork marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave the first British women the right to vote. One hundred women artists are being commissioned to work with communities across the UK to create one hundred centenary banners for PROCESSIONS, echoing the practices of the women’s suffrage campaign.

Also marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, Glasgow-based artist and film-maker Rachel Maclean reflects on a century of female enfranchisement with a new film, Make Me Up, a mix of comedy and horror inspired by suffragette protest, including Mary Richardson’s famous 1914 attack on Velázquez’s painting The Rokeby Venus.

Sir James MacMillan has composed a major new oratorio, written to commemorate the Armistice. Scored for brass band, strings and chorus, All the Hills and Vales Along uses five poems by Aberdeen-born war poet Charles Hamilton Sorley, and will feature internationally acclaimed British tenor Ian Bostridge as soloist. Eamonn Dougan will conduct the world premiere of the chamber version at the Cumnock Tryst Festival (6 October 2018), before Gianandrea Noseda conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in the premiere of the orchestral version at London’s Barbican Centre (4 November 2018).

Five Telegrams is a collaboration between Anna Meredith, one of the country’s most exciting young composer-musicians, and 59 Productions, the pioneering video design company whose work includes the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and the Tony Award-winning War HorseFive Telegrams will be presented at the BBC Proms and as the Standard Life Opening Event at the Edinburgh International Festival. The work is a co-commission between these two major cultural organisations and marks the first time they have collaborated in this way.

The 306: Dusk is the concluding part of Oliver Emanuel and Gareth Williams’ powerful and profound First World War trilogy. Directed by Wils Wilson, it follows the heart-breaking true story of the 306 men executed for cowardice and desertion during the conflict and the devastating consequences for those they left behind. The 306: Dusk is a collaboration between the National Theatre of ScotlandPerth Theatre and 14-18 NOW and will open in the newly restored and redeveloped Perth Theatre (12–27 October 2018).

XENOS will see Akram Khan give his final ever solo performances in a full-length work that blends Indian classical dance with contemporary choreography in powerful and pioneering synergy. XENOS, which means ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner,’ tells the tale of an Indian colonial soldier in the First World War, expressing both the beauty and horror of the human condition. It will receive its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells (29 May – 9 June 2018), co-producers of the work, followed by performances as part of Edinburgh International Festival (August 2018) where it will be accompanied by a participatory dance project linking Edinburgh, Paris and Berlin.

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said:
“We want to make the culmination of our programme of art commissions for the WW1 Centenary something that the whole UK will remember.  Thanks to the brilliance of the artists, the 2018 season is an ambitious and interactive programme, which will reach new audiences in new ways. We are particularly keen to engage young people in the centenary through the lens of art which encourages them to look differently at the history of the period.”

14-18 NOW is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland, and by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with additional support from corporates, trusts and foundations, and individuals.  14-18 NOW is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums.

14-18 NOW is proud to acknowledge its partnership with the BBC on projects in the 2018 season.

For details of the full programme please see:

For more information about the Iolaire Music Commissions please visit the Ioliare Centenary Commemoration page:

For further press information please contact:
Erica Bolton or Lara Delaney / / 020 7221 5000