Stories From Creatives In Northern Region Adapted For The Digital Age

Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust encourage creatives to tell their stories

A website and app are the legacy of the Northword Storytagging project in Causeway Coast and Glens area that brought together creative people in remote areas to merge traditional storytelling and modern technologies. The Northword Storytagging platform will harness stories that make the region unique.

Over the last two years, Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) and Ulster University worked in partnership to showcase the distinctive voice of the people who live and work in the area. Stories celebrate the place, history, identity & community, the language, the folklore, cultural heritage, landscape and natural heritage of the Causeway Coast and Glens area.

The platform will be available to communities and creatives with access to a skills hub consisting of training materials on harnessing stories, digital marketing and much more to enhance the capacity of communities and creative SMEs across the wider region.

CCGHT Project Officer, Tiérna Mullan explained that the platform will be a resource that creatives can access to benefit their business, and visitors can use to enhance their experience of discovering new regions through the stories. 

“Over the last 12 months, CCGHT have worked closely with six creatives from across Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council areas to bring local stories to life through the creation of six final showpieces that reflect the unique cultural heritage of the Causeway Coast and Glens region,” she said. “The creatives have received free training and many opportunities during the project such as showcase events, marketing and branding materials, photography portfolios, videography and training in Social media, Digital Marketing, Collaboration, Canva and how to create their brand story.”

The creatives involved were textile artist Angela Turkington (Leopard & Lily), music artists Claire McCartney & Beccy Henderson (VOKXEN), Woodturner Gerard Gray (Taisie Turning), Artist Michelle Mcgarvey, Ceramicist Sasha McVey, Storyteller, and singer-songwriter Colin Urwin.

Showpieces included the Selkie Cloak, Girona wood sculpture, tableware, children’s storybook, “The Selkie Wife” song and ‘The Witches of Islandmagee’ song. 

“The Northword Storytagging Project has been an exciting project for everyone despite the challenges due to Covid-19,” Tiérna said. “With no in-person meetings, we had to adapt to the digital world very quickly.

“Having the opportunity to work with and showcase such talented creatives from the Causeway Coast and Glens area has been a real privilege. Being part of their journey from story to product and watching their confidence grow throughout the project has been a fantastic experience.”

She explained that the project has ensured that the wealth of local stories and histories of the area are now accessible to all via the platform.

Electro-pop, 1980s influenced duo Claire & Beccy from VOKXEN said it was an opportunity to tell the tales from the area.

“It really was so exciting for us to take a local story from our corner of the world and bring it to life through music,” they said. “It was also great to see the innovation and sheer imagination from our fellow creatives who brought their chosen stories to life.

“The rapport and creative connections made within the Northword creatives group was wonderful to have. 

“Northword enabled a great support network of creatives – at a time when being creative had been made increasingly more difficult, due to the effects of Covid-19 on the local arts and music industry. From beginning to end the guidance, advice and experiences enabled through the Northword project has been invaluable.”

Artist Michelle McGarvey was equally impressed. “The Northword project has been an amazing experience and has relaunched my creative practice. The opportunity to meet and work in collaboration with other Northern creatives and local storytellers was a great creative and learning experience.

“The business support that included various training courses, branding, photography, and videography to enhance my craft/business enabled me to future promote myself in a professional manner both online and at events.” 

Projects like this are vital to ensure that support is given to creatives like me, whilst offering visitors a memorable experience during their stay in this wonderful area,” said Michelle.

Showcase events, such as the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council pop-up in the Tower Centre in Ballymena in February, Colin representing the Northern Irish Northword Creatives at the Scottish Showcase in Fortwilliam in June and the showcase event at Flowerfields Arts Centre raised all participant’s profiles across the Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council areas and further afield.

Project partners have been unable to meet in person throughout the project due to the restraints of Covid-19 but instead met monthly via Zoom.  The final project steering group meeting will take place in Orkney from 22-25th August 2022 when partners will have the opportunity to meet and discuss the work achieved over the last two years.  

The international Northword Storytagging Project is funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme 2014-2020. It is led by Robert Gordon University, Orkney and spans countries including Scotland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and Finland.

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