Monday, 15 September 2014

Somerled and The Battle of Renfrew

In the summer of 1164 Somerled, king of The Isles, brought an enormous fleet into the Firth of Clyde.   The ensuing battle at the Ness of Renfrew was a major turning point in the history of the Clyde, the Inner Hebrides, and Glasgow.  Somerled was killed, his kingdom was divided and the Clyde coast was gradually absorbed into the kingdom of the Scots. 
Renfrewshire Local  History Forum is celebrating this turning point in the history of the West by inviting historians and archaeologists to explore the culture, churches, and ships of the west coast and the mystery surrounding Somerled’s death.
The conference will be held at Renfrew Town Hall on Saturday 4th October.  For details and booking, see the Forum’s website at For further information phone 01505 347162.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

13 Commonwealth Tales - Out This Weekend

Get yourself along to the Dutch Gable House this Doors Open weekend (September 13/14), to get your FREE copy of 13 Commonwealth Tales, supported by National Lottery Celebrate fund. Here's a wee sneak peek inside at the Solomon Island giants and a page from Captain Kidd's journal...

And in case you missed it before, here's our lovely cover...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Magic Torch @ Dutch Gable Doors Open Day

As ever, there's a great line up of buildings to visit in Inverclyde on Doors Open Day. We hope you will pop along to Dutch Gable House to see some of what Magic Torch have been up to over our busy year.

As I think I may have mentioned, we will be launching our new storybook, 13 Commonwealth Tales, and thanks to National Lottery Celebrate funding, it will be available for FREE over the weekend. The fully illustrated book retells folktales from commonwealth countries featuring all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures.

There will also be an opportunity to see a preview of our Battle of Largs Exhibition which reinterprets the gothic poetry of Greenock writer John Galt into a series of atmospheric comic art pieces.

However, there's other stuff going on in the Dutch Gable House as well. Downstairs in the Green Room, there's a World War One cafe, with a chance to pick up a copy of the commemorative newspaper from our Working the War project, which shares Inverclyde news stories from throughout the war. We will also be showing a recording of the popular drama performance created by St Columba's pupils and performed at the Albany earlier this year.

And on Sunday only, artist Alastair Cook will be along to do some of his collodion photography. Alastair ran a smashing collodion workshop for us a few weeks back, and has been working with us on the Time and Place project.

There's loads of places to go and see, all worth a visit, but of special interest this year, as a newly opened property, is the Tobacco Warehouses - had a wee wander around them over the last few weeks, really impressive space. And for a touch of class...check out 6Art as well. It's all good.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Battle of Largs Exhibition

The photo really doesn't do this justice...

One of the pieces from Neil and Andy's Battle of Largs project, which interprets Greenock writer John Galt's gothic poem in large scale comic art. The frames and exhibition text have been created in wood and slate by local social enterprise Newark Products.

You can see it in the Dutch Gable House over Doors Open Weekend on September 13th / 14th.

It's hopefully the first in a series of comic art / gothic poem mashups, with the Ossian poems very firmly in our sights for next time.

Here's the accompanying text for the piece above...

With shrieks that shook the midnight air,
Tossing their fell fangs, lean and bare,
The Three Eternal Sisters spoke;
And fiercely through the witched smoke,
Their drugged caldron muttering glar’d,
And with its red lugubrious light
Enhanced the horror of the night,
While populous grew the gloom, and length’ning
Groans were heard.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Andy and Mhairi - Scribblers for Hire

Scooby Doo and the Gang, with my wee Molly, chased by Captain Kidd
by Andy Lee
We've been really lucky these last two years, to work with a couple of smashing artists...and we like to really challenge them with various eldritch horrors and folk nightmares. But did you know, you can also commission them to do pieces of artwork for you, friends or family? I'm just one of the folks who has done just that over the last year, and above you can see a special Scooby Doo illustration Andy did for my daughter, below is an illustration Mhairi did for an Alice in Wonderland story I wrote for my wife for our 10th Wedding Anniversary.

You can see lots of Andy's other work and find out how to contact him at Call of the Deep or find him and his sketchbooks on instagram. Mhairi is at Mhairi M Robertson.

And hey...obviously there are lots of other cool local artists and crafters you could be supporting too, some of whom will no doubt be appearing at the next Violet Skulls Market in Dutch Gable House. Apparently it's Christmas coming up...why not do something a wee bit different this year...something special.

Alice, discussing the finer points of relativity with a watchmaker
by Mhairi Robertson

And keep a wee eye out, as Mhairi and I may well be shortly launching a kickstarter for another book.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

All The Things...

the volunteers of magic torch are delighted with a busy year
We have been really fortunate this year to receive support from a whole range of funders. We have loads going on over the next few months, and so we felt it was important to just stop, take a wee breath, and remind you about each of our projects individually...but yknow, also all at the same time.

13 Commonwealth Tales is supported by the Celebrate Fund, created to help communities recognise the Commonwealth Games in different ways. We've already had some storytelling days and right now the project is just finishing production on two books, 13 Commonwealth Tales, an illustrated childrens book collecting traditional stories from Commonwealth countries and Uncommon Tales, a comic in which Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes explores some of the darker folklore of the Commonwealth. Thanks to Lottery funding, limited copies of both of these books will be made available for FREE in September and October.

Time and Place is supported by Awards For All Scotland, and is sharing creative responses to Inverclyde past, present and future. Exhibitions and music created by the project will be on display in The Dutch Gable House throughout October and November.

Achi Baba is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and will explore an important part of Inverclyde's World War One history in comic form. The comic book will be published in July 2015, on the centenary of the battle.

Alongside that, we have our own self supported project, The Battle of Largs, which has created an exhibition based on John Galt's gothic poem, using artwork from Andy Lee and woodcraft created by local social enterprise Newark Products.

And of course you can still access our kids book Wee Nasties on scribd and ibooks, and our vintage horror comic Tales of the Oak, from last year's project Tales of the Oak, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund Our Heritage.

So aye, busy times. Good times too. Probably our most action packed year since we started. It's worth noting, that all of the grants above, are under 10k, awarded through funding streams which are ideal for smaller groups. I wrote a wee blog post at the start of the year with my own thoughts about funding, and if you, or your group has an idea for projects, why not try making them happen?

Hopefully we'll see you at some of our events over the next few months.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

13 Commonwealth Tales - Cover Reveal

With props to our artist Mhairi and our mysterious designer Black Cassidy, here's the rather sumptuous cover for our new 64 page book 13 Commonwealth Tales, supported by the Celebrate Fund.

Packed full of monsters, fair folk, superstitions and even a limerick, there's something for everyone in this journey around Commonwealth folklore, undertaken by our own questionable folk hero, Captain Kidd.

The book will be launched on Thursday September 11. If you would like to come along to the book launch on Thursday evening to hear some of the stories and enjoy a few refreshments, we have some tickets spare, simply email us with the answer to the following question...

What is the name of the spider god and King of Stories we have recently featured on our blog?

Answers to aulddunrod@gmail,com

However, don't worry, for if you miss out on Thursday, further FREE copies will be available exclusively from the Dutch Gable House during Doors Open Days on September 13th / 14th. Our two previous FREE books have been snapped up quickly and our now only available as downloads. So don't miss out!

actual photograph of Captain Kidd's famous logbook. kind of.