In celebration of Gaelic Awareness Month, the Beaton Institute will host Fiona Mackenzie, Mod Gold Medalist and archivist for the National Trust for Scotland, in a song lecture entitled Brigh an Òrain, Na Caimbeulaich – The Campbells, A Meaning in Every Song. Beginning at 1:30pm on Wednesday, May 11, this 45-minute presentation will tell of the life and work of well-known folklorists, Dr. John Lorne and his wife, Dr. Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell of Canna.
“The Beaton Institute is pleased to host Fiona Mackenzie to share the stories and music of the Canna Collections,” says Catherine Arseneau, Director of Cultural Resources, the Art Gallery and Beaton Institute. “This presentation is a great opportunity for students, staff and the public to celebrate Gaelic Awareness Month and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich cultural history shared by our communities.”
The Canna Collections, amassed by John and Margaret between 1938 and 1981, form one of the world’s most culturally, socially and historically important archives of Celtic and Norse Studies, Gaelic language, Gaelic music and literature, and Scottish history. The couple spent their lives collecting and researching Gaelic song from the Outer Hebrides and Nova Scotia. Their archives, which comprise thousands of manuscripts, typescripts, research papers, broadcast papers and correspondence, represent this extraordinary record of Scottish history and Celtic studies.
Margaret’s grand collection of black and white photographs and colour slides taken in the Hebrides and Nova Scotia in the 1930s and ’40s leaves a snapshot of a lifestyle no longer in existence. Her manual transcriptions of Gaelic songs are beyond compare in their accuracy and diversity.
Mackenzie brings her lecture to life using Margaret’s photographic collection, with photos of Nova Scotia unseen by audiences until now, along with clips of John’s original archive sound collection, recorded in Nova Scotia in 1937. She will also sing her own favourite songs from the Canna Collections.
Fiona is the new archivist for the National Trust for Scotland in Canna House and took up post in May 2015. She now lives on Canna with her husband and collie dogs. Fiona describes her job as “a dream come true” and is excited at the prospect of helping to increase awareness of the Canna Collections of Song and Folklore. Before taking up post, Fiona worked for 6 years as a freelance Gaelic performing artist and tutor and before that as the Gaelic Song Fellow for Highland Council. She has visited Cape Breton on several occasions previously, to perform and teach Gaelic song.
This event is free and open to the public.