Magnetic North Blog

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Magnetic North: Adapting to a new world

Magnetic North is developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. The team working with Magnetic North’s Artistic Director Nicholas Bone is writer Martin O’Connor, songwriter Kirsty Law and three performers: Biff Smith, Kirsty Eila McIntyre and Claire Eliza Willoughby (you can read more about them at the end of this post). 

We were due to begin work on the adaptation with a development week beginning today at Summerhall, but like everyone else we have had to re-think our plans very quickly. Half the team is based in Edinburgh, the other half in Glasgow. Once the advice about only undertaking essential travel was given, we realised that it wouldn’t be possible to all be in the same physical space. After talking to everyone, it was apparent that people still wanted to work, even if we couldn’t all be physically in the same place. So this morning, we’ll start an experiment in working together separately. The three Edinburgh artists all live within walking distance of Summerhall and will meet in a studio big enough to mean they can be in the same room while maintaining the suggested physical distance from each other. We will undertake tasks, including learning the song that Kirsty Law has written, and at times the other three will join us via a video-conferencing app. How will it work? We don’t know, but we will talk about it at the end of each day and see how we feel. It’ll be a learning experience, but we are all going to have to get used to doing things differently over the next few months.

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Supporting our network of artists

We'd love to ask how we can support our network of artists in these strange times.

Independent artists are used to uncertainty, it goes with the territory, but at the moment it feels like the ground is shifting underneath us all. Isolation is something that all artists feel at times, but right now it feels more important than ever to consider what we can do to help each other. With this in mind, do you have any thoughts about how we might usefully facilitate connections over the next few weeks? There seem to be plenty of Facebook groups springing up, so it doesn’t seem worth adding to this burgeoning field but we could perhaps run regular group video chats, or have an ‘art-buddy’ scheme. You will certainly have better ideas, so please let us know what you want from us.

Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us have your thoughts. In the meantime, you might be interested in this link to freelancer-specific guidance from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE). 

With best wishes from all of us at Magnetic North,

Nick, Verity, James and Caitlin.

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Casting call for development week in March 2020

We are developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. We are currently looking for three performers for a development week from 23-27 March 2020 in Edinburgh.

The breakdown is as follows:

1 musician/performer – this is primarily a musical role but will also involve some dialogue, so it needs someone who is confident with this as well as being a highly-skilled musician with experience of folk/traditional styles. Experience of working on arrangements, especially with songwriters, would be useful.  

2 actor/musicians – confident theatre performers with experience of storytelling and strong musical skills (instrumental and/or vocal) and an understanding of folk/traditional music.

Experience of both devising and working with a playwright would be invaluable.

Fee of £500, plus travel or relocation (as appropriate) at ITC rates if based more than 25 miles from Edinburgh.

If you have any specific questions, please email director Nicholas Bone This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about Magnetic North and its work, please visit magneticnorth.org.uk

Please apply, outlining appropriate experience and with a CV and any useful supporting material (or links); you can also supply this information in an alternative form (for example with a video or sound recording) if you would prefer. Send applications to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 12.00 midday on Monday 13th January 2020.

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Apply now for Space/Time retreat March 2020

Applications are now being accepted for our next Space/Time retreat, which will take place in Findhorn, Moray from 10-15 March 2020. 

Space/Time is part of Magnetic North’s Artist Development programme and is a creative retreat for experienced artists from all art forms which asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”

 The residency aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we will question what creativity is, how it can be nourished and explore how artists can continue to challenge themselves to develop.

Led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath, Space/Time combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection. Cooking and eating together is an important part of the residency.

This Space/Time retreat is presented in partnership with Dance North Scotland and will take place at Findhorn, Moray.

You should consider applying for Space/Time if you:

  • feel the need to reflect on your creative practice in a supportive atmosphere
  • have been working as a professional artist for at least seven years
  • have questions about how to balance the pressures of work and life
  • want to talk with others in a similar position
  • need time for individual reflection and thought.

It is hard to describe exactly what happens at Space/Time, but watching this short film may help: https://www.magneticnorth.org.uk/space-time

Participants are paid a fee of £500 for attendance, we also pay travel expenses within Scotland. Food and accommodation is provided - food is vegetarian, in line with our Carbon Management Policy.

Find out more on the Space/Time page of our website here.

Photograph by Eoin Carey, taken at Cove Park in October 2018.

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Introducing a new member of the Magnetic North team

Caitlin Fairlie started as our new Artistic Administrator back in September. Over to Caitlin to introduce herself:

My name is Caitlin Fairlie and I am producer based in Glasgow. I graduated from the Contemporary Performance practice programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July 2018 where I specialised in creative producing practises in my third and fourth year. When I graduated I co-founded a producing collective called POWERHAUS with my collaborator Laura Fisher. POWERHAUS offers artistic and producer support to femxle, femme and non-binary artists that would consider themselves to be early career. I also work for The Sick of the Fringe as a project producer for FK Alexander and as a facilitator working with young people across various contexts.

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Latest Comment

Guest - J. Sharp Taking A Walk
07 September 2014
Very much enjoyed your show at the Brunton Theatre last night and the silent walk to start was an excellent addition, creating the perfect atmosphere....