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Hinterland: The launch of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture 2016 opens to sell out audiences

Press Release   •   Mar 18, 2016 10:43 GMT

  • Tonight, 18 March, Hinterland marks the official launch of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture with a large scale public art event at St Peter’s seminary, presenting a key highlight of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
  • Following the official opening in Helensburgh by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP, Angus Farquhar Creative Director of NVA, David Kinniburgh Deputy Provost Argyll & Bute Council and David Dunbar PPRIAS and Chair of the Festival of Architecture, audiences will be transported to the semi ancient woodland of Kilmahew to discover St Peter’s Seminary at Hinterland.
  • Local residents were among the first to rediscover the site and witness its transformation at a special preview yesterday evening (17 March). [Event experience quotes from Cardross audience to follow this evening at 9pm]
  • Almost 50 years to the day since the seminary opened, Glasgow based public art charity NVA presents Hinterland, the inaugural public art event in the ambitious long term plans to reclaim the future of this world-renowned architectural masterpiece.
  • NVA’s much anticipated Hinterland will subtly re-animate one of Scotland’s most iconic 20th century buildings

    with monochromatic light installations, projection and a specially commissioned work by composer Rory Boyle, performed by St Salvator’s Chapel Choir, trumpeter Bede Williams and percussionist Tom Lowe from the University of St Andrews.

    Hinterland offers capacity audiences the opportunity to rediscover the building’s powerfully exposed superstructure and unique architectural features for the first time in 30 years to coincide with the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. This is an important step in the journey towards the planned transformation to create one of the UK’s most significant new cultural venues due to open in 2018.

    Over sixty people have volunteered to help deliver the event.

    Sara Melville from Glasgow who helped to create one of the installations in the woodland with our event partners ACT (Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust) said:

    “It was a great few days out in the sunshine! With lovely people using natural materials to create some features in the amazing landscape of Kilmahew.”

    NVA offered a range of mentorships for those interested in developing their skills in design, music and event production.This gave the mentees an opportunity to work alongside key creative and technical staff to gain experience and insight in to what is involved in delivering major public art.

    Ruari Lambert, who is in a mentoring partnership with NVA’s Associate Visual Director James Johnson said:

    "My background is in product design and mechanical engineering. It was during my degree at the Glasgow School of Art that I became involved in performance and through it found a new outlet for my need to design experiences.

    “It’s a great opportunity to learn from James Johnson and the rest of NVA’s creative team in an incredible setting and I am certain the experience will contribute to developing my ideas in melding design and environment to create performative experiences in Scotland.”

    Hinterland is a creative collaboration between Angus Farquhar (director), James Johnson (visual director), Rory Boyle (composer), University of St Andrews Music Centre and St Salvator’s Chapel Choir, Phil Supple (lighting director), NOVAK Collective (projection design), and from 85A art collective - Dav Bernard, Zephyr Liddell, Robbie Thomson & Pete Sach (installations).

    Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA said:

    “I am really pleased by the way local people have responded to the work we are doing at the seminary at this point in its transformation. The event has sold out and we have audiences coming from across the UK and Europe.The subtle composition of lighting, projection and choral music beautifully echoes the site history and will give audiences a strong impression of its creative potential. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how people respond to it over the next ten days.”

    Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:

    “St Peter’s is a building of world significance which continues to inspire and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in a new light during Hinterland.

    “The event marks the start of the Festival of Architecture, a major part of 2016’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, and I can’t think of a better way to mark the year than by seeing one of Scotland’s architectural gems brought to life in such a stunning and creative collaborative performance.”

    Neil Baxter, CEO Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) said:

    "Bringing together an extraordinary, sculptural, modernist ruin, music and creative magic within a unique, historic woodland setting, Hinterland is a superb launch event for our year-long, Scotland wide, Festival of Architecture.

    “It also presents a vision of how Gillespie, Kidd and Coia's long abandoned masterpiece might be reinvigorated to the benefit of the local community and wider Scotland. This sell-out is the first must-see highlight of this very special Festival. It will endure long in the memory as a special moment."

    Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

    “In the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, we have the opportunity to put Scotland on the world stage in a new and exciting way, positioning the country as an inspiring mix of traditional and cutting-edge at the same time.

    “NVA’s ambitious proposal to reclaim the future of the St Peter’s Seminary complex and its surrounding Victorian-designed landscape has not only gained worldwide attention and brought communities together, but ultimately the significance of the story has captured the hearts of many, far and wide.  Those lucky enough to have secured tickets to the sell-out event, will I’m sure, enjoy one of the hottest tickets of the year.”

    Hinterland is produced by NVA on behalf of Kilmahew / St Peter’s Ltd and is the official launch event of the Festival of Architecture 2016 which is supported by EventScotland and Creative Scotland. The event is a key highlight of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, Reigart Demolition, Argyll & Bute Council and EventScotland.

    - ENDS -


    Near Helensburgh, Argyll & Bute, Scotland
    18 – 27 March 2016 
    For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact Susie Gray or Magda Paduch, The Corner Shop PR,

    0131 202 6220, 07834 073 795

    We have photos and artist biographies to share on request.

    Notes to Editors

    Hinterland is the name for both the inaugural event and the planned permanent cultural resource, presenting a public statement about the site’s future use as a national platform for progressive public art, looking towards 2018 when the partially restored buildings are fully opened. The event follows an extensive programme of work to make the building safe for future use led by Reigart Contracts. This transition has revealed stunning architectural details that have been concealed beneath debris for the last 25 years.

    Hinterland, NVA’s ambitious scheme to reclaim the future of the world-renowned St Peter’s seminary and its surrounding landscape represents the last chance to save what is widely recognised as Scotland’s and the UK’s most important modernist building. Designed and built by Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein of the renowned Gillespie, Kidd and Coia architectural practice, St Peter’s seminary was completed and consecrated in 1966 and went on to win MacMillan and Metzstein the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal for architecture. However, after 30 years of decline the buildings are now registered as one of the World Monuments Fund’s most endangered cultural landmarks.

    A dynamic design team comprising of Avanti Architects, ERZ Landscape Architects and architect Brian McGinlay has been appointed to take capital plans for Hinterland forward, adopting a ground-breaking approach to heritage restoration. Combining partial restoration, consolidation of the existing ruin and new designs for a cafe and public hub, the scheme will create a 600-capacity events space, flexible indoor and outdoor teaching and performance spaces, a permanent exhibition, restored woodland paths and visitor facilities which are set to establish Hinterland as a national platform for public art, living heritage and knowledge exchange in the 21st century.

    Festival of Architecture 2016

    Hinterland is proud to be part of the Festival of Architecture 2016, Scotland’s Celebration of design, creativity and built environment. The Festival runs throughout 2016 with over 400 events taking place across Scotland. Go to to get involved. @foa2016 #foa2016.

    The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) was founded in 1916 and is the professional body for chartered architects in Scotland. Including student members, Honorary Fellows and retirees, the Incorporation has over 4,700 members. The RIAS promotes excellence in architecture in Scotland.

    In June 2013, in its new Policy on Architecture, Creating Places, the Scottish Government announced its support for a Festival of Architecture in 2016 to be led by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, working in partnership with a range of interested bodies.

    In September 2013 the First Minister announced the official designation of 2016 as Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, further affirmation of the Government’s support of the Festival.

    2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

    2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.

    The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.

    Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.

    The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

    The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 

    Join the conversation using #IAD2016

    The University of St Andrews Music Centre provides musical opportunities for the University's staff and students and for the wider community in East Fife. It offers instrumental and vocal teaching and a wide range of instrumental and vocal ensembles, and hosts a busy programme of concerts and other events by both professional and student performers. The Music Centre benefits from a close collaboration with the internationally renowned Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who are the University's Orchestra in Residence: the SCO gives five concerts per season at the Younger Hall and its members regularly visit to give chamber concerts, masterclasses and to work with the Centre's community orchestra. Other annual highlights of the Music Centre's programme include our annual festival, St Andrews Voices, a staged opera production, an international tour by St Salvator's Chapel Choir, and a series of professional chamber concerts hosted in collaboration with the St Andrews Music Club. Many of the Music Centre's opportunities are open to everyone, from absolute beginners to experienced musicians. Though the University does not offer a full degree programme in music, the musical scene is very lively and increasing numbers of talented musicians are choosing to come and study and make music here.

    The Music Centre is currently staffed by a full-time Director of Music and University Organist, and a part-time New Music Coordinator and Music Technology Coordinator, supported by an administrative team consisting of a part-time Music Centre Manager, a full-time Concerts, Performance and Events Administrator, and a further full-time administrator and administrative assistant. Instrumental and vocal teaching and ensemble coaching are offered by a team of approximately thirty freelance teachers, with additional input from our distinguished Honorary Professors in voice, strings, piano, organ, conducting and jazz. There are also undergraduate academic modules in music, offered in conjunction with the University's School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies.

    St Salvator’s Chapel Choiris the flagship choir of the University of St Andrews. A mixed voice ensemble of around 30 students, its history extends back to the founding of the University in the early fifteenth century, when students were obliged to sing in the University’s chapel.  These choristers were referred to as the ‘Choristi Sanctiandree’.

    Today, underthe direction of Tom Wilkinson, the choir performs a broad repertoire spanning the six centuries of the University’s history. In addition to three sung services per week and extensive ceremonial duties, the choir enjoys a busy schedule of concerts, international tours, broadcasts on radio and TV, as well as appearances at international festivals.  During 2015 the choir toured to venues including Princeton University and Washington National Cathedral in the USA and will perform at the international choral and organ festivals in Haarlem and Alkmaar, The Netherlands.

    Committed to the performance of new music, St Salvator’s Chapel Choir regularly commissions and performs works for both liturgical and secular contexts. In recent years the choir has been privileged to work with musicians such as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, James MacMillan, Paul Mealor and Arvo Pärt.

    For more information, please visit

    ‘A spectacular performance of ground-breaking choral music’. *****’ Glasgow Herald

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