The Rise and Shine Festival - a Journey from Dawn to Dusk

Published: 24 August 2023

Read Hyab Yohannes' summary of the Rise & Shine festival at the Scottish Crannog Centre on 19-20 August 2023

Allow me to guide you through the journey of the Rise and Shine Festival at the Scottish Crannog Centre, which took place from August 19th to 20th, 2023. The festival's primary objective is to celebrate sustainable cultures, traditions, and languages. As I entered the museum, I was immediately transported to a time when nature and culture coexisted harmoniously. The meticulously outlined timeline of events spanning millennia narrates the story of the inseparability of nature and culture. The 2500-year-old pottery, bearing traces of a child's fingerprints, alongside various stone tools, craft-making, and crannogs, all exemplify the inseparable connection between humans and the natural world around them.

Emerging from the museum, I embarked on a journey filled with beautiful calligraphy, storytelling, weaving and craft-making, painting, poetry, coffee and tea rituals, and so many things at the Crannog centre. I was first captivated by stone poems, where visitors write words or draw on stones, turning some stones to silver, others to poetics telling an embodied human story. When I asked the workshop facilitator to describe her workshop in a few words, she responded with the following three words: shifting, creative, and free. It is truly perspective-shifting, creative of new imaginaries, and free from thresholds of violence. Next to the stone poems were mixed media art and doodle relaxation with a series of paintings and rhythmic drawings blended together in a single visual art. The beautiful drawings, mostly produced by children, were joyous and relaxing to explore.

Besides the mixed media workshop was Farsi calligraphy. The strokes and dots of ink on white paper create a masterpiece of imagery with each letter carrying its own cultural and historical significance and meaning. The calligraphy captures embodied knowledge in the power of words and the artistry of expression. To the left of this was a workshop on Egyptian hieroglyphics stamps, where we could write our name in hieroglyphics. Opposite this table was a workshop for making nests and shelters, rethinking the Welsh principle of Ty Unnos (one-night house), which suggests that if one were to build their house on common land overnight, they would rightfully own the land. It was indeed tempting to build one at the centre of the Scottish Crannog Centre. In the same shelter were also volunteers from the Crannog operating a lathe and relief carving. The accuracy and efficiency with which the facilitators operate the lathe and create beautiful decorations through relief carving were amazing.

I then walked into textile arts, inviting visitors to try their hand at weaving and craft-making. The artisans guided me through the process, imparting their wisdom and techniques as I created my own unattractive piece. These hands-on experiences not only offer a sense of accomplishment but also serve as a reminder of the importance of craftsmanship and the value of handmade goods in an increasingly mechanised world. 

Resistant to this mechanisation was also portrait drawing and drawing with charcoal right after the weaving and craft-making. The renowned artist mentored visitors and provided a space for painters to unleash their creativity on a blank white paper on a wooden painting board. The vibrant colours and carefully drawn lines brought faces to the blank surface, with each artwork telling a unique story of a person. The table was fully occupied by visitors making their own paintings that I could not manage to squeeze in for a first attempt at exploring the limitless possibilities of self-expression through painting.

The next stop was at the iron-age kitchen, where Chinese and Taiwanese tea rituals were shown and various teas offered in small, beautiful glass cups. The stories of the tea and tea trees narrate the geographies and demographics of the places of origin and destination, as if they have created their own latitudinal and meridian lines across the globe. On both days, this stop was the last to close, as visitors continued to ask facilitators questions while sipping their tea.

The next shelter was full of joy with drama, playing games, and creating scenes about things we leave behind and take with us, as well as unpacking memory boxes. This reminded me of the lost literacies of our times and the digital citizens that we have become in this era of digital hibernation. One could easily notice in participants' expressions the perpetual struggles to balance what is retained in our minds and what needs to be saved in digital memories. Opposite this shelter there was a workshop exploring our values through cards with prompts, as well as a workshop to make leather braids from leftover strips of leather.

Storytelling took centre stage at the next stop with a very loud noise of audiences of all ages capturing everyone’s attention. Whether it was tales of mythical animals or legends, the storytellers wove a tapestry of imaginaries that transported me to different worlds at once. Through the power of storytelling, the Crannog Centre hopes to preserve and share the past and present narratives of its inhabitants, bridging gaps and fostering intercultural understanding. The stories were accompanied by Gaelic song.

After the storytelling, close to the waters of Loch Tay, were two facilitators welcoming visitors as they brewed Eritrean coffee, while nature speaks to the festival spirit through its myriad sounds: trees moving, wind blowing, raindrops falling, birds singing, ducks quacking, and the ground feeling the feet of children jumping.

The Crannog staff were everywhere, guiding visitors and serving food between workshops, offering tea, and sharing moments of joy. They are the masterminds behind the festival with the help of a star events coordinator from the UNESCO Chair at the University of Glasgow. Both the director of the Crannog and the chair of the UNESCO RILA were immersed in sessions of their own along with collective responsibilities.

After a day of all this, day two began with a breathtaking morning tour of the new Crannog site that I have no words yet to describe. These three words captured my initial reaction: grounding, healing, and restorative. Day two ended with unforgettable moments of joy, intriguing oral storytelling, and temporary goodbyes.

The Crannog Centre is not merely a place of festivals and entertainment; it typifies an emerging pluriversal hub for intercultural and inter-epistemic exchange. It serves as a meeting point for people from all walks of life, encouraging dialogue and the synthesis of ideas, skills, and wisdom. The Crannog is constantly evolving into a centre of intercultural blending, where languages, knowledge systems, and ways of being merge together as constituents of an emerging humanity in the possibilities of a decolonial future. Its historical depth and archaeological remains transport visitors back in time to a period before colonisation, where humanity thrived in all its pluriversality and complexities. The Crannog serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering a non-exclusive society that celebrates the inseparability of human and natural worlds.

First published: 24 August 2023