- North East Scotland, Denmark & Norway -
Eyvind Gulbrandsen, a Danish based composer and installation artist has been selected by SICC Productions to visit Buckie, in the North East of Scotland to develop a new piece of music. He has been working alongside Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Society (in collaboration with Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen), to unveil the story behind many of the Danish and Norwegian people who sought refuge in this small fishing town. In 1940, following the German invasion, hundreds of Danish and Norwegian refugees – men, women and children – sailed across the North Sea in small fishing boats to seek refuge in Scotland. Many of these settled in Buckie, a community of some eight thousand people on the Moray Firth coast, with the community expanding into Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen. The community was often described as ‘Little Norway’, with a Norwegian Consulate, reading room and Sjømannskirken (Norwegian Church Abroad) being established in 1942. The Danish refugee population, although smaller, was no less a significant part of the town’s wartime experience and collective memory.
Both the Danish and Norwegian communities were important parts of the life of the region during the war years, bound together by their common heritage of North Sea fishing and a determination to achieve victory in the War. Many of these ties have endured ever since. There were many marriages between Norwegians, Danes and Scots. Some settled in Scotland permanently, many others returned to Norway and Denmark with Scottish spouses. Notable figures, such as the businessmen Trond Mohn and Otto Thoresen, were born in Buckie as part of this exiled community.
On the evenings of the 8th and 9th March 2019, the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen became an immersive light and sound installation inspired by the stories of Danish and Norwegian refugees that fled their countries in World War II and made their homes in Buckie, the Banffshire coast and Aberdeenshire. Eyvind Gulbrandsen and Scottish designer, James Johnson worked with local communities to bring together a light and sound event which includes live performances from local Aberdeenshire musicians to reflect the story of this perilous crossing of the North Sea at a time of war and the home that these refugees created called Little Norway.
This project is a partnership between Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Society and Professor Peter Reid of the School of Creative and Cultural Business Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen who has been researching this largely neglected story. Professor Reid has been leading research into the Norwegian and Danish refugees in Buckie during the Second World War using archival sources, oral history testimony, personal narratives and storytelling (now largely second generation), photographic collections (both publicly accessible such as the extensive holdings of the heritage society and those personally retained), newspaper reports and other sources. The local public libraries and its local heritage service are also involved in the work.
Eyvind Gulbrandsen is educated at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark and the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, Norway under guidance by a.o. Karl Aage Rasmussen, Bent Sørensen, Rolf Wallin and Olav Anton Thommessen. For the last 15 years Gulbrandsen has lived and worked in Denmark as a freelance composer and a teacher in composition. His works include solo/chamber music, music for orchestra and theatre, electronic/electro-acoustic music and installations. His works often include performance, installations and scenery. He always work in close collaboration with his musicians to develop his compositions and in recent years has been focusing on the possibilities in co-creation with either the musicians, the audience, or both.
His main inspiration is the people he works with, the raw material for each piece being stories, objects or melodies regarding a certain topic or theme. Whichever route he explores his inspiration is most often the collected narratives of musicians’ lives seeing his pieces often being presented as a combination of a concert, intervention and installation; more an event, or happening, than a conventional performance. His works have been performed by acclaimed ensembles and musicians across the Nordic countries, Germany, England, USA and Canada and at festivals such as UNM, Nordic music Days, SPOR festival and Klang: Copenhagen Avantgarde Music Festival.
Macduff - Stu Smith
James Johnson studied at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, gaining a Masters in Industrial Design Engineering. Since then James has been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s most respected design offices in London, Paris and Japan, architect Norman Foster, and architect, artist and engineer Santiago Calatrava. Moving back to Scotland James now specialises in Industrial Design and Design for Environmental Art and Lighting Installations and runs his own design consultancy getMADE. His work varies from large scale projects such as Visual Director for the Hinterland event that opened the Scottish Year of Architecture and Design, design for ‘Ghost Peloton’ for the Grand depart of the Tour de France, kit design for ‘Speed of Light’ part of the 2014 Commonwealth Olympiad, to small intimate projects such as set design for the singer song writer Kathryn Joseph’s 2018 tour, or the design of furniture for a bar at the National Theatre, London. James has tutored at the Royal College of Art London and Glasgow School of Art and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.