After ten consecutive years of annual June weekends looking at different themes, the Andrew Raven Trust in 2016 commissioned author (and Raven family member by marriage) Adam Nicolson to write a book with a chapter based around each of the themes. Additionally, there is an introduction by Amanda Raven and an Afterword by Simon Pepper - respectively the second and first chairs of the Trust, before Priscilla Gordon-Duff took up that role. Those 'book-ends' situate the chapters in the history and culture of the ART weekends. Adam knows Morvern, and has himself participated in and written up the report of several of the weekends over the preceding decade.
The book was launched at the 2017 weekend, which was titled The Voice of the Writer: Language, Land and People.
At the weekend, Adam read short excerpts from the book. For those who know the area, or who have been to earlier ART weekends, the chapters are very evocative. They are also not without challenge: whilst celebrating and indeed luxuriating in the beauties of the land and culture, the chapters also probe and needle into difficult areas of local and global concern, including climate change, environmental degradation, social and economic issues around land ownership and use and historical inequities, and present and future challenges.
The book is also, for me, a thing to cherish: a very decent object, combining high production values as a designed, printed and bound document, with clear text and illustrations. Its writing and illustrations span directly and locally relevant and stimulating content, rolling around of big ideas, factual nuggets, arguments and viewpoints, and evocative, reflective and perceptive expression.
For that aspect of the book as an aesthetically pleasing physical object, we have to thank Mandy, above all, for applying her years of experience and expertise and for having a vision for what that product could be like and a commitment to working hard see it take shape.
The weekend itself was a wonderful mix of people who variously have something very special with their own use of language, written, spoken or sung (or all three); and the singing of birds and of the land, as well as of humans. Some speakers engaged with the powerful use of language by historical figures. The menu included the polemical, the practical and the poetic, in English, in Scots, and in Gaelic; documenting historical and social upheavals and personal quieteness.
On the 'ABOUT' page of the Trust's website, there is a link (at the right hand side of the page) to some information about the book and how to get hold of a copy if interested.