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Robert Burns

10th January 2017 by Scran | 0 comments


01850104Robert Burns is not only Scotland’s best known poet and songwriter but one of the most widely acclaimed literary figures of all time. He is held in very special affection by millions around the world, with Burns’ suppers taking place on or near his birthday on the 25th January.

Stature

02050042Burns’ stature owes much to the huge range of his songs and poems, some of which are still familiar nearly two hundred and fifty years after his birth. In fact, there would be few English speaking people who do not recognise “Auld Lang Syne” – a staple at New Year celebrations.

His popularity is also linked to his association with a brand of socialism radical for his time and timeless in its understanding of the plight of the common man. Burns would have naturally understood these issues having experienced hardships not untypical for the ordinary man of the eighteenth century.

Birth & Youth

He was born in 1759 in the village of Alloway, in Ayrshire and was the son of a small farmer, Jacobite in sympathies, who had moved from near Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. In Scots rural tradition – which Burns himself recognised in “The Man’s the Gowd for A’ that” – and probably because of his father’s support of education, Burns had a fairly extensive education. He attended several schools and was given lessons from his tutor, John Murdoch, who introduced him to Scots and other literature in the English language. The family was never wealthy, living on and scraping a bare living from poor farming land. When Burns’ father died in 1784, he and his younger brother, Gilbert, tried and failed to make a success of farming at Mossgiel, near Mauchline. Also at this time, Burns began what was to be a stormy relationship with Jean Armour whom he left and betrayed many times.

His intensity, bred of hardships, seems to have caused Burns to produce some of his finest literary achievements. With a formal educational background, supplemented by a desire to read great literature and an admiration for the work of Allan Ramsay the elder, and steeped in Scots traditional ballads and legends, Robert Burns began to create his earliest and some of his best loved poems.

Poetry & Fame

In 1785 and 1786 alone, Burns wrote, amongst other works, ‘The Address to a Mouse‘, ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer‘, ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night‘ and ‘The Twa Dogs‘ and published his later famous Kilmarnock Edition with the intention of emigrating to Jamaica to seek a better existence. However, the popular response to his book of poems attracted him to Edinburgh to receive the adulation of the polite society of the capital, who became fascinated by the ‘ploughman poet’ and dubbed him “Caledonia’s Bard”. 3,000 copies of his Edinburgh Edition of poems were selling well at this time.

In 1787, he first visited Dumfries and was immediately made an honorary burgess. In 1788, unsure of making a living from the pen, he signed a lease on Ellisland Farm on the banks of the Nith and sought employment as an Exciseman. This was a latter day VAT man and Burns used his income to supplement his farm. His health was variable but during that time, he edited – with James Johnson – the second edition of the ‘Scots Musical Museum’. It was published in 1788 and contained 40 of his own songs. The third volume, which appeared in the following year, had 50 more.

01980173Burns asked Captain Francis Grose who was compiling a book on the antiquities of Scotland to include an illustration of Alloway Kirk. Grose agreed provided the poet would contribute a ‘witch story’ to accompany the drawing. The result was ‘Tam O’Shanter’. The poem was written in a single day on the banks of the Nith and is arguably one of his best works.

After two years, Burns gave up the farm and moved to Dumfries as a full-time Exciseman. During this time, Burns had at least one major affair and sired a daughter whom his own wife agreed to raise. Burns led an erratic lifestyle, being alternately drawn to and repelled by the bourgeois lifestyle. He wrote poems in English instead of his vernacular Scots, and flirted with ‘Clarinda’, Agnes McLehose.

00570461In May 1793 the family moved to a better quality house in Mill Street (now Burns Street). Their standard of living was good and they employed a maid servant. He was now writing songs for a new book ‘A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs’ produced by George Thomson. At the same time, some of his most lasting songs like ‘My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose‘ and others set to traditional airs, which revived the words and tales of ballads, were produced.

Ill Health & Death

The war with France was causing food shortages in Britain. In March 1796 there were serious food riots in Dumfries. Gradually, during the year, Burns’ health became poorer and in April he was unable to continue with his Excise duties. His friend Dr Maxwell mistakenly diagnosed his illness as “flying gout” and prescribed sea bathing as a cure. On the morning of Thursday 21st July he became delirious. His children were brought to see him for a last time and shortly afterwards he lapsed into unconsciousness and died. He was 37 years old.

It was the intention of friends that a biography of Burns should be written as soon as possible and the profits used to aid Mrs Burns. Dr James Currie, a Liverpool physician, who came originally from Annan, was chosen as biographer. The biography, published in 1800, was an immediate success and raised £1400. However, when Dorothy and William Wordsworth visited Dumfries in 1803 they had difficulty in even finding Burns’s grave. So, in 1813 subscriptions were sought. One of the subscribers was the Prince Regent, later George IV. On the 19th September 1815 Burns’ body was exhumed and placed in the new mausoleum. In 1823 the cenotaph on the banks of the Doon at Alloway, Burns’ birthplace, was completed at a cost of £3300. In 1844 a huge festival in his honour was held at Alloway, presided over by the Earl of Eglinton. The centenaries of his birth in 1859 and his death in 1896 saw nationwide celebrations.

Reputation

The cult of Burns rapidly rose. As the ‘National Bard’ he assumed spiritual dimensions, becoming all things to all people – admired as poet, nationalist, democrat, republican, conversationalist, womaniser, drinker, naturalist, folklorist, lyricist, Freemason and atheist to name a few. His humble origins, in particular as the ‘heaven taught ploughman’, have added to the idolatry.

Timeline

1759 January 25 Robert Burns born at Alloway
1781 Works as a flax-dresser in Irvine
1782 Returns to Lochlea after the burning of the Irvine shop
1784 Father dies. Robert moves to Mossgiel. Meets Jean Armour
1785 Birth of Elizabeth, daughter by servant Betty Paton. Writes To a Mouse. Affair with Highland Mary Margaret Campbell.
1786 Kilmarnock Poems published. Re-unites for a time with Jean Armour. Plans emigration to Jamaica. Stays in Edinburgh. Jean remains with family in Mauchline.
1787 Edinburgh Edition of Poems
1788 Ellisland Farm, Dumfries. Commissioned as exciseman. Marries Jean Armour. Writes Auld Lang Syne.
1790 Tam o’ Shanter completed
1791 Jean and Robert move to Dumfries
1792 Accused of political disaffection during revolutionary commotion in Dumfries.
1793 Second Edinburgh edition of Poems
1795 Ill with rheumatic fever
1796 July 21 Burns dies at Dumfries
1796 July 25 Son Maxwell born on day of his funeral

 

Images © Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Trustees of Burns Monument & Burns Cottage, Bayley & Ferguson Ltd| Licensor Scran 

Remembrance

8th November 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

105500077My Grandfather Dreams Twice of Flanders, is a poem based on an experience Ron Butlin had when he was around six years old. That was when he first noticed people wearing poppies, and he asked his mother why. She explained about war, and about death, neither of which made much sense.

Then she told him about his grandfather who had ironically died on the day peace was declared, after lying in hospitals for years with injuries sustained earlier in the war. As a child he had nightmares, and the poem is a sort of exorcism.

Ron Butlin was born in Edinburgh in 1949, but grew up in the countryside in the village of Hightae near Dumfries. He has been a computer operator, security guard, footman and model, as well as Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. He writes in English and Scots.02492954

 

 

Images: © Poppy Scotland (Eamonn McGoldrick), National Library of Scotland (Moving Image Archive)  & Newsquest (Herald & Times).

Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Art & Design in Perth & Kinross

22nd January 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

049446This term in Perth & Kinross, two schools are working in partnership with Scran to focus on Expressive Arts. Both Abernethy Primary School Dunbarney Primary School are taking a whole school approach to teaching Art & Design.

Before Christmas staff came together for the project brief. The challenge was to come up with common schemes of work for each year group, across both schools. Below are the topics each year group is investigating at present;

  • P1/2 – all aspects of tartan & weaving01980159
  • P2/3 – Roman life & collage
  • P4 – Wallace & Bruce through targe construction
  • P5 – Mary Queen of Scots through jewellery &  feltmaking
  • P6 – Burns by drawing & painting portrait work
  • P7 – Scottish Landscapes looking at Jolomo

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As well as these Studying Scotland themes, classes will be identifying opportunities for IDL. Significant aspects of learning and progression pathways are being addressed throughout the teaching & learning activities which are currently underway. This area for development is set to conclude during mid February, when both schools will exhibit the pupil outcomes, inviting parents to come in to celebrate the pupils’ achievement.

08470019Evaluation & moderation is an integral part of the project. Exemplars of pupils’ work will then be used during InSET on as the basis for a school Art & Design moderation.  Scran continues to provide support, subject specific knowledge and will also be doing Kite Aerial Photography, as an extension activity during the Spring with selected classes. We’ll keep you posted on their progress & share some of the outcomes in the coming weeks.
Images © Historic Environment Scotland, Trustees of Burns Monument & Burns Cottage | Licensor Scran 

Views of North Berwick & Vicinity (3)

20th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Here’s the final update on the partnership work with Mrs. Dalgleish’s wonderful Primary 5 class, at Law Primary School in East Lothian. After bated breath, the wind got up enough strength allowing us to complete our exploration of aerial photography. The sun shone, we went outdoors & finally flew the kite aerial photography kit. See how we fared by browsing through the gallery below.

During an InSET session yesterday Law Primary School staff had a presentation detailing the full project. It was agreed that the class had achieved their learning intentions & much more besides.

  • I will be able to use Scran confidently to research a topic
  • I will have a better understanding of aerial photography
  • I will help to curate & create an exhibition

You can download the attached CfE learning experiences & outcomes for the project.

Before signing off, we’d like to say a big Scran thank you to Mrs.Dalgleish and everybody in P5 who made this such a success!

Imagery © Portrait of John Marr, East Lothian Museums Service / Various Aerial Images RCAHMS – Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

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Local Art meets Local History

9th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Killermont get creative with Scran - Collage Frieze

You may have read about our collaborative school activity at Killermont Primary School, in Bearsden? This 6 metre long frieze is the result of P6’s hard work & creative flair.

After thinking about the work of Willie Rodger, individual figures were printed by each pupil. These silhouettes represent Bearsden commuters, dashing to and from the railway station. Next, the class cut up pictures of local housing built following the arrival of the railway in 1863 – bringing businessmen & prosperity to New Kilpatrick. Finally, the local buildings & commuters were collaged together.

The class proved to be highly successful art detectives too – at home they researched the artist Willie Rodger using Scran. They shared their findings in class the following day. Astute observations were made & we discovered plenty of visual clues hidden in the imagery.

Following a group vote, with 6 votes each from of a class total of 32, the two most popular Willie Rodger artworks were The Chess Players & Honeymoon.

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More Creativity at Killermont

8th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

jackies2_01530390There was a frantic afternoon of printmaking with P6 yesterday, who worked really hard. Today we are going to consider the detail & visual clues within the work of Scottish artist, Willie Rodger. In particular this example, “Day Out, Ferrara”, from 1998. The class have a selection of questions to investigate and will use Scran to become art detectives, using their visual literacy skills to discover what’s going on in the picture.

Our printed figures & silhouetted people, the Bearsden commuters, have been drying on the rack overnight. Next, we will incorporate them into our collaged frieze alongside local landmarks & architecture. We are looking forward to seeing the outcome.

© Willie Rodger via Bridgeman Art Library. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk.

Creativity at Killermont

6th October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

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Scran is spending the next two days working with P6 in Killermont Primary School. Word on the street is, they’re a creative bunch – so we’ve devised a printing project. We’ll start by looking closely at the work of local Dunbartonshire, artist Willie Rodger.

As well as finding out about print-making, 00040842P6 will think about their local landscape too and the Victorian commuters who shaped the streets of Bearsden. The collections from East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust on Scran will add that extra layer of context for our learning. We’re going to get our hands dirty & by the end, have made a really cool collage.01850326

Images © Willie Rodger via Bridgeman Art Library, Robert Grieves Archive & RCAHMS. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

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Views of North Berwick & Vicinity (2)

1st October 2015 by Scran | 1 Comment

John MarrSo far this week Law Primary School have thrown themselves into their research & investigation using Scran.

Yesterday, P5 used their digital detective skills to look at local heroes. The class then applied impressive, creative writing skills to produce some brilliant biopoems – all about local father & son, John & Freddy Marr. Here’s a sample of their hard work…

John or Daddy

Friendly, Brave, Jolly, Caring

Father of Alfred, Grandad of Chris

Who loved gannets, coastal nature and communicating with local people

Who felt happy, free and calm

Who feared damage of nature, hate and sharks

Who wanted to see dolphins jumping and red sunsetsIMG_0100

Who lived in North Berwick

Marr

Written by Rosie P5

Image © Portrait of John Marr, East Lothian Museums Service. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Let There Be Light!

24th September 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

Scran celebrates National Poetry Day 2015 with a series of movie montages celebrating this year’s theme of light – tying in with the UNESCO Year of Light – and offering inspiration from the archives.

It’s National Poetry Day on Wednesday 8th October. This annual event celebrates poetry in all its forms across the country. This year the theme is light, marking the United Nations International Year of Light 2015.

To celebrate and provide inspiration for your own creative works, Scran has delved deep into its digital collections and found a range of material which explores light in interesting ways. Three two-minute movie montages have been created so far, using still images, moving images and sounds from www.scran.ac.uk. These are now available to view on the site.

Light and Dark layers rural landscapes, urban landscapes and seascapes with imagery of Scottish skies showing the changing light at different times of day. Human experiences are evoked through film and oral testimony and include torchlit processions and memories of wartime blackouts. Poetry and song add atmosphere to the piece.

Light and Dark

Man Made Light explores ways in which light is generated through a range of human activities, including domestic lighting, lighting for safety at sea and on the roads and light and heat generated through industrial processes. There are Oral testimonies from former factory workers and archive footage is juxtaposed with contemporary colour film.

In Light and Shadows, grainy black and white stills of early 20th century cityscapes are set against the wide open spaces of the Highlands. Human figures and forms in nature cast interesting shadows in their surroundings. Poetry readings echo themes of darkness and light.

There’s a fourth and final movie to come – watch this space for more information.

Watch all the Inspiration from the Archives movies on Scran

Try these other websites to find more resources to support teaching and learning for National Poetry Day 2015: Scottish Poetry Library | Education Scotland

Image taken from Sun being obscured by black clouds © Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust / Comataidh Craolaidh Gaidhlig (sync rights CoG): Copyright owner: Computerised Time-lapse Library. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Views of North Berwick & Vicinity (1)

22nd September 2015 by Scran | 3 Comments

Scran will be working closely with the P5 class at  Law Primary School in North Berwick throughout next week. Together we will be examining lots of local content and weaving what we find into our learning journeys. Views of North Berwick

As well as being digital, weather permitting, we’ll be taking to the skies with our camera & K.A.P. kit. So please, fingers crossed for fair weather over East Lothian.

Many of the resources we will use in class come from  East Lothian Museums Service who are contributors to the collections on Scran. For example, this rather quaint souvenir is leather bound and originally contained 15 black & white photographs with tinted skies. It was published by Valentine of Dundee around 1895, so it gives us a clue as to how long people have been visiting the beautiful seaside at North Berwick.

What more will our Primary 5 digital detectives be able to discover about where they live? We’ll be looking at lots of aerial imagery, considering how the town has changed and expanded over time. We’ll think about traits & trades which may have remained the same and finally, when we reach the end of our collaborative investigations, we will share our findings – so tenterhooks until then.

Image © East Lothian Museums Service. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk