A flowing together. In a literal sense, it's about rivers. But it's more often used to talk about the coming together of factors or ideas, or of cultures.

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Laura Hudson Mackay
Confluence at Wigtown Book Festival 2017, Photo by Colin Hattersley
Confluence Book

Confluence is a collaborative project which sits within Upland's overarching programme of international development 'Peripheral Vision,' which aims to develop partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships with international artists, artist collectives, organisations, galleries and museums.

Confluence is an artist led project enabling Upland Members to collaborate with international artists with whom they already have links thus building on present relationships. It is a vehicle which enables creative development and the cross pollination of ideas.

The title of the project is also the theme, giving a starting point to the creation of new work. The project enables experimentation without pressure of a fixed outcome with the only remit being that the artists involved use print in any form and that they are willing to share the progress of the project through a dedicated blog.   The project exists in both the digital and physical realm, with the potential for international artists to visit Dumfries & Galloway or for local artists to travel to their collaborators location.  This exchange aims to widen networks with the ambition of developing strong relationships for joint working.

The first artists to take part in the Confluence project are Upland Member and Professional Photographic Artist, Laura Hudson Mackay, and Celtic Storyteller, Anne Errington, both based in Dumfries and Galloway, along with Professional Moroccan photographer, El Houssain Belabbes, and Moroccan Storyteller, Mehdi El Ghaly, both based in Marrakech, Morocco.

“By working together with Houssain, Mehdi and Anne, a storytelling photography project will be created with written stories related to the work. Further exploring my on-going project looking at connections between Celtic and Arabian tales and storytelling traditions.

The ancient Celts were a pre-illiterate people: they did not keep written records or write books of their stories. Storytellers and others gifted in the spoken word were vital to society. A living example of this still happens in Morocco today, where storytellers, having memorized the tales of their ancestors, give street performances. However, many Moroccan storytellers are elderly or have now passed away and the tradition and the stories are at risk of being lost forever. Today amongst Moroccan young people there is a movement to preserve the stories and to train in the ancient art of Hikayat (storytelling).”

Laura recently had a three month long solo exhibition in Marrakech and organised a photographic tour of Morocco, for members of The Galloway Photographic Collective.

After completing an Advanced Diploma in Illustrative Photography at Glasgow Metropolitan College in 2006, Laura went on to achieve a Diploma with Distinction in Art History at London Art College in 2013. Laura is a Licentiate Member of the Royal Photographic Society and is their Representative for the Dumfries and Galloway area.

Moroccan Photographer, El Houssain Belabbes: Houssain teaches photography and is a keen storyteller through his work. He has worked at a local NGO in Morocco, set up by El Fenn Maroc and The Giving Lens.  Houssain is also the founder and CEO of Initiative Kifach, an organisation which helps young people enhance their qualities in many areas, through workshops, seminars, competitions and debates. In 2015 as part of Young Arab Voices Week, Houssain was Morocco’s ambassador in the UK.

Moroccan Storyteller, Mehdi El Ghaly: Mehdi is passionate about Moroccan Culture. Born in Marrakech Morocco, he has been surrounded by the ART OF MOROCCAN STORYTELLING from a very young age, which was his gateway from life, as he knew it, and at the same time an education that shaped him into what he is about today. Now, he works as a storyteller himself, sharing his culture and the values he grew up learning from Moroccan Storytelling. Mehdi’s journey goes on with performances and workshops, which transmit the passion he has for Moroccan Culture. 

“We share, we connect and in the end, we inspire one another and that is what Moroccan Storytelling is about, bringing people together for the sake of becoming one.”

 Celtic Storyteller, Anne Errington: Anne’s favourite stories are Celtic Folk tales and stories from all over the world that are funny, scary or “horrible” as her young audiences describe them. She also likes stories that have caught her interest about people’s communities. Her father’s interest in Arabia led her to collect stories of the Middle East, and recently she has been reworking the mythic stories of Hercules.

Born in Malaya and brought up in Scotland, Anne’s interest in storytelling was fostered by her family. As a child she was entertained by her grandmother and her aunts’ stories and with tales from the Blue Fairy Story Book. Trained in physical theatre and mime in Paris, Anne has worked with native- American storytellers in the United States, told stories to Children in Romanian orphanages and shared both Arabian and Celtic stories whilst sitting on roof top terraces in Morocco.

 Visit the blog.


Update - the Confluence project is continuing to grow and the artists involved have run a successful Kickstater campaign raising over £10,000 to print a beautifully designed book that brings together Celtic and Arabian tales and images.  Confluence: Celtic and Arabian Visions and Stories aims to bring cultures closer together through art - underlining how ideas and values are shared by geographically distant cultures and countries. For up-to-date info on the project and find out how it is developing visit the group's Facebook page.


Confluence is supported by Creative Scotland and the LEADER 2014-2020 programme.