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Haggis, neeps and chatty - Finding innovation in everything

Blog post   •   Mar 31, 2016 15:13 BST

Hinterland. Pronunciation: /ˈhɪntəland/ (noun). Definition: the remote or less developed parts of a country; back country.

The word hinterland describes my ideal place to be. Those unexplored or untouched parts of a country where I can get a bit lost. I often do. Whenever I head out on my bike I’ll have little idea of where my route will take me (I take a GPS unit and maps, just in case though).

A couple of weeks ago I got a little lost going past the lovely new Forest Holidays cabins at Strathyre and past Loch Lubnaig and ended up on some dirt trails on my road bike, taking some warranted confused looks from mountain bikers and the odd chuckle from some who’d realised I was going in the wrong direction. I ploughed on regardless though and was rewarded with some terrific lanes and views on the south side of Loch Earn.

Haggis, neeps and chatty - Finding innovation in everything. The outside of St Peter’s during Hinterland.

Another rewarding trip into hinterland this month took me literally into Hinterland. Glasgow based public art charity NVA, designed and produced this inaugural public art event that took place in the ruined St Peter’s Seminary near Cardross in Argyll & The Isles. The ambitious and innovative long-term plans are to reclaim the future of this world-renowned architectural masterpiece by turning it into a performing arts and events space and community hub.

You can read a lot of well written and thoughtful reviews of Hinterland elsewhere as I don’t have the creative mind to describe what I saw effectively but I can say it was utterly mesmerising and I can’t wait to see what NVA has in store for the future and I’m really excited about the plans for St Peter’s!

I was also lucky enough to see NVA’s Creative Director, Angus Farquhar, speak at the Argyll & The Isles Tourism Summit as part of Scottish Tourism Week. His speech was very inspiring and his vision of tourism was one not of the traditional cultural iconography on which we historically rely - castles, lochs, beautiful views, outstanding food and drink - but one of a more disruptive nature and a new way to think about how we view tourism.

To me, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is all about encouraging new and innovative ways to think about how we view tourism as an industry and as consumers. New events and festivals such as the Pop-up Cities Expo, which has invited cities from around the globe to build pavilions to display in Edinburgh during the summer, as well as already established events such as the biennial festival of contemporary art, the Glasgow International, are all celebrating our built heritage and flair for design and innovation.

We’re also seeing a lot of that in our attractions and specifically the redevelopment of our canals. Pinkston Watersports Centre and Glasgow Wake Park have completely reinvigorated a part of industrial Glasgow that previously lay derelict. Two fantastic attractions bringing people to a part of the country that they may not have considered before - much like Hinterland and St Peter’s. Likewise the Kelpies, Helix Park and Falkirk Wheel have changed Falkirk’s canal-side too.

Haggis, neeps and chatty - Finding innovation in everything. Pinkston Watersports Centre, Glasgow.

My favourite event this year has been ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’ at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, not least because I got to meet Sir Paul himself, but because his work throughout the years is an inspiration to all of us who are looking to develop something we know well or take for granted into something completely different. As well as his fashion line he takes everyday objects such as cameras, water bottles, pens, standard lamps and cars and puts his own innovative personality into them. It might be a simple change such as the colour or pattern but he does it so well it’s often easy to recognise something that he's put his pen and pencils to.

Haggis, neeps and chatty - Finding innovation in everything. Sir Paul Smith and myself at the ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’ exhibition launch. He’s definitely #ScotSpirit!

With this in mind, have a look at any event you organise or your attraction or business and see if there’s a way you can integrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design into it. Food festival? Tell people about the innovative ways food is produced in Scotland such as in our aquaculture industry. Theatre events? How about adding on a tour of the theatre to show people the history of the building - much like they do at the extraordinary Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow. If any of this gives you a bit of inspiration to get involved then you can still join the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme.

And as always, when you’re next in your local village, town or city, look up and see what innovative, architectural masterpieces you have right on your doorstep that you might be missing.