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New Book and CD Celebrate Iona

Wednesday March 2 2022

A leading painter, poet and musician have collaborated on a new project reflecting on the ‘spirituality of place’ in Iona.

‘In the Footsteps of Colm Cille’ is a new book bringing together paintings by the renowned artist John Lowrie Morrison (JoLoMo) with poems by Francy Devine, and a CD of new music by fiddler and composer Paul Anderson.

The project began as an initiative of ‘I to the Hills’, a project reaching out to pilgrims passing through the Parish of Braemar and Crathie, in the Presbytery of Kincardine and Deeside in north east Scotland.

The Rev Ken Mackenzie, minister of Braemar and Crathie, said: “The history of this parish has been shaped by its geography, and from time immemorial strangers and pilgrims, artists and adventurers, princes and paupers have made their way through valleys and over mountain passes in order to spend time in this wonderful part of God's creation.

“Within the local community of faith there has always been a clear focus on reaching out to those who may be passing through, but some years ago we began formulating a number of creative new initiatives by which we might better engage with such people. 

“Given the working title 'I to the Hills', this new and intentional way of looking at what is in fact an ancient calling, now serves as a kind of umbrella framework for a whole range of activities including hospitality, ecclesiastical/heritage tourism, recreational and community-building initiatives (often with a fundraising component), cultural, theological and historical interpretation and in particular, opportunities for others to engage in the worship and spiritual life of the parish.

The new book and CD also arose from a period of reflection during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ken adds: “The original idea was to invite John and Paul to work together for a day or two in the hills around this parish, with the aim of producing one or two nice paintings and a few pieces of music which we hoped  might reflect something of what these mountains and valleys have come to mean to some of the creative souls who have been drawn to this place.

“In the end the project grew arms and legs, and it culminated in the production of what I consider to be a rather remarkable piece of collegiate work, focussed on the wonderful place that is Iona.

“Interestingly, while John is a practising Reader within the Church of Scotland and has always been very open about his faith,  neither Francy nor Paul would classify themselves as 'church folk' - indeed Francy would not claim to hold any faith - but both acknowledge that 'something happens' when we open ourselves up to certain places and to certain situations - and this was surely true for them on Iona.

“As can sometimes be the case, this whole process has proved enormously rewarding for everyone involved in this unlikely collaboration - and I personally can hardly begin to tell you how moved I have been to look at John's paintings, while hearing in the background the plaintive strains of Paul's fiddle playing 'Martyr's Bay'.”

You can buy In the Footsteps of Colm Cille from 

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