Weekly Readings Of ‘The Raven’s Nest’, A Winter Icelandic Tradition Comes To The Glenkens

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Weekly readings of ‘The Raven’s Nest’, a winter Icelandic tradition comes to the Glenkens

Tuesday evenings until 13th December, 7pm weekly.


As the nights draw in, you are invited to join New Galloway based author, Sarah Thomas, for a special series of readings following in the Icelandic tradition of kvöldvaka (‘evening wake’). Sarah will read from her ecological memoir ‘The Ravens Nest’, with the audience invited to listen and, if you’d like, bring something to make or mend while listening.


The kvöldvaka tradition was born of winter nights on farms when the days were short, work still needed to be done indoors, there was limited oil for the lamp, and yet there was a thirst for literature and imaginative transportation. People would gather in a single warm room, and someone would read aloud as they knitted, darned and mended items of clothing.


Written in beautifully vivid prose The Raven’s Nest is a profoundly moving meditation on place, identity and how we might live in an era of environmental disruption, set in Iceland’s otherworldly Westfjords. Based on Sarah’s experience of visiting Iceland as an anthropologist and filmmaker in 2008, Sarah is spellbound by its otherworldly landscape. An immediate love for this country and for Bjarni, a man she meets there, turns a week-long stay into a transformative half-decade, one which radically alters Sarah’s understanding of herself and of the living world. In the midst of crisis both personal and planetary, as her marriage falls apart, Sarah finds inspiration in the artistry of a raven’s nest: a home which persists through breaking and reweaving – over and over.


Readings take place on Tuesday evenings between 18 Oct and 13 Dec at the CatStrand, New Galloway & Smiddy Balmaclellan. The story unfolds such that you can join at any point or follow it through. All welcome.

Tickets & info available from CatStrand New Galloway, https://gcat.scot/arts/or call 01644 420 374.


This is a Glenkens Community & Arts Trust event, one in a series of activities in partnership with the Galloway Glens Scheme.

Peter Renwick, Arts Manager of the CatStrand said:

“The first reading was quite lovely – Tea was drunk, buttons sewed, knitting completed & a soft toy repaired. All while listening to Sarah Thomas read from her Icelandic memoir The Ravens Nest. As winter comes upon us, and the cost of living hits our pockets we have made this warm social occasion available on a pay what you feel basis.”


Jan Hogarth, Galloway Glens Education and Community Engagement Officer, added:

“The Kvoldvaka tradition, although strongly associated with Iceland, is actually in keeping with practices embedded into Scottish rural culture. It’s a tradition which is both useful, creative, sociable and meditative. Join us to find out more and experience the warmth and magic of the stories and making and mending. It is even more relevant today with heating costs so high and the need for communities to come together and keep each other’s spirits up in the coming months.”


Glenkens Community and Arts Trust (GCAT) was set up in 2001 to advance wellbeing and sustainability through arts, culture and community engagement through fostering connections and encouraging innovation and creative opportunity for all.  CatStrand, the HQ of GCAT, is the physical cultural hub of Glenkens and the surrounding area. It is a vibrant centre for the presentation of high quality, accessible arts and creative learning opportunities. For more information see www.gcat.scot


The Galloway Glens is a 5-year project based in the Stewartry region of Dumfries and Galloway. The scheme is funded by a range of partners including Drax, the owners of the Galloway Hydro Scheme, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Its remit is to connect people to their heritage and to support modern rural communities. www.gallowayglens.org.