Category Archives: Initiatives

The story behind Ken Pattersons photographic exhibit, “In the Footsteps of John Muir”, currently on show at Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York – through July 8th, 2016.

Daily Record reporter, Paul English, recently spoke to Scottish photographer Ken Patterson of how his current photographic exhibit, “In the Footsteps of John Muir” came together and his journey to seeing it now a part of the Centennial Celebrations at Federal Hall, Wall Street, NYC

As Patterson notes … “All of America’s national park system came out of this determination by Roosevelt to preserve America’s wild places for future generations.

“John Muir had a very strong belief that by going outdoors, you actually went into something. He was quite spiritual, he referred to nature as God’s cathedral.”

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AT THE heart of world finance on Wall Street, Americans are lining up to pay tribute to the Scotsman they regard as a hero for changing their country for the better.

Yet back in his homeland, the name of the man they regard as the father of modern environmentalism remains in relative obscurity.

photography exhibition is being held in Federal Hall, a historic building in the centre of the financial zone, ­celebrating the life and legacy of a man who measured riches in nature’s bounty, not stocks and shares.

Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian , in 1838, crossing the Atlantic with his family 11 years later, landing in Wisconsin and growing up to become the father of the US National Park Service, who ­celebrate their ­centenary in August.

Fifer Ken ­Paterson’s exhibition in Manhattan is one among many events planned to mark it.

Ken’s show, In The ­Footsteps of John Muir, features the work of a ­Scottish ­photographer on whose life Muir had a profound and transformative impact many years after his death in 1914.

Ken has had a lifelong enthusiasm for outdoor activities, propelling him into the mountains around the world as a keen walker, rock and ice climber.

But it wasn’t until he was ­recuperating from a brain tumour in 2001 that he encountered the work of Muir, and grew to appreciate the ­restorative power of the Scot’s mantra.

Ken said: “Although I obviously had many difficulties, the experience of the brain tumour ultimately proved to be a positive one. When I got out of the hospital, I had to learn how to walk and obviously I couldn’t climb either.

“My thinking processes were fairly limited in those days. I went on the internet and typed in Yosemite, because it was a world centre of rock climbing, and every time I did that, I kept coming across the name of John Muir


Yosemite valley from tunnel view, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

 “I was staggered when I came to realise I had lived my whole life mainly in Edinburgh, had been passionate about climbing and the outdoors, and yet I hadn’t heard of this guy.

“It made me think, ‘What is wrong with Scotland? Why are we singing songs about Bonnie Prince Charlie rather than John Muir?”

As his rehabilitation progressed, former ­newspaper photographer Ken took a trip to the ­footsteps of the revered conservationist, heading to Yosemite, the vast national park in ­California, in which the seeds of Muir’s legacy were sewn

Enthused by the ­wilderness, Ken found a way to reconnect with nature, a passion represented in the photos of his trip.

And in a bid to draw a connection between the American luminary and his Scottish heritage, Ken approached the American Scottish Foundation, co-organisers of the annual New York Tartan Week celebrations.

The photographs became part of the program of events in the 2005 jamboree, being exhibited in Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery and twice since then, including during Muir’s centenary and again this year.

Dad-of-two Ken, 59, said: “The outdoors played such an important part in my life and, after illness, getting back to that was very important to me.

“It was looking at Muir, reading about what he had done, which ­rekindled my passion and ­determination to get back out there and do it.

“Muir talks about his childhood and the various things he did, climbing on to the roof of his house. I did that when I was young. He got himself stuck at the top of a mountain in a storm and the same thing happened to me in the Alps.”


Photographer Ken Patterson : his photography exhibition In The Footsteps of John Muir opens in New York this month.

Ken’s recovery affirmed a wider pondering on notions of Scottish identity, at home and abroad, and eventually led to him establishing a website, The Famous Scots Project, an ongoing study into the work of influential Scots.

He said: “After illness I became ­philosophical. I started to look at life in a slightly different way. I decided that the strength of the nation lies in its sense of community, the heart in its people and the soul in its history.

“Cicero said that not to know where you come from is to forever remain a child. Scotland needs to move on a wee bit and get a better sense of depth of its own history beyond Culloden and all that.

“We’ve lost sight of our history. We get caught up in stuff like Bonnie Prince Charlie, and yet there are these incredible stories about people like Muir, scientist James Clerk Maxwell, explorer David Livingstone, the list goes on and on.”

In 1903, Muir guided president ­Theodore Roosevelt through Yosemite, camping out for three nights during which Muir lobbied by the campfire, impressing upon him the need to set aside key areas for preservation and appreciation by future generations.


A natural rock arch in the Alabama Hills beside Lone Pine in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, John Muir’s ‘Range of Light’ in California.

 It worked. Roosevelt instigated five national parks in office. There are now 58.

Muir’s profile in Scotland has been bolstered in recent years, principally with the 2014 inception of the John Muir Way, a 130-mile east-west walk from Dunbar to Helensburgh, echoing a 211-mile trail named for the Scot through the American Sierra Nevada.

Schoolchildren also take part in the John Muir Award, an environmental education scheme encouraging young people to forge an appreciation of nature.

Ricky Ross weighed in on the legacy of the man described by ­Statesiders as a “wilderness prophet”, writing the tune For John Muir as a tribute on Deacon Blue’s 2014 album A New House.


The Bristlecone Pine can live for 3000 years making it one of the longest living organisms on the planet. Situated on one side of the Owens valley in California the Inyo mountain range have several sites of bristlecone forests.

 Ken said: “All of America’s national park system came out of this determination by Roosevelt to preserve America’s wild places for future generations.

“John Muir had a very strong belief that by going outdoors, you actually went into something. He was quite spiritual, he referred to nature as God’s cathedral.”

Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/honouring-scots-king-wild-frontiers-7913745#297tBvPH6vAfwWZM.99

World Heritage Day in Scotland

April 18th marks annual World Heritage Day across the globe. This special day serves to raise public awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage around the world, and the efforts that go into preserving this heritage.

Each year has a different theme, and the theme of World Heritage Day 2016 is “The Heritage of Sport,” to signify the upcoming Olympics in Brazil. You can find out more about World Heritage Day on the International Council of Monuments and Sites website.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation‘ recognizes World Heritage Sites as international locations of significant cultural or natural heritage which should be celebrated and preserved for generations to come. Scotland currently has six World Heritage Sites on the World Heritage List. Although World Heritage Day exists to celebrate all cultural sites and monuments, World Heritage Sites are especially honored.

Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites are as follows:

Image via westburnside.com

Image via westburnside.com

1. Forth Bridge 

The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge that runs over the Firth of Forth. An iconic symbol of Scotland, the bridge was designed by English engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker. The bridge was opened on March 4th, 1890 by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII.

Image via cyark.org

Image via cyark.org

2. Heart of Neolithic Orkney

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a group of surviving Neolithic monuments in Orkney, Scotland. The domestic and ritual monuments are not only amazing pieces of Neolithic design, but they also give us insights into the society and spiritual beliefs of the people who once inhabited Scotland.

Image via newlanarkhotel.co.uk

Image via newlanarkhotel.co.uk

3. New Lanark 

New Lanark is a restored 18th century cotton mill village found in the narrow gorge of the River Clyde. The village became famous for its success under the leadership of Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, who turned New Lanark into a thriving business village run through utopian socialism.

 

Image via theguardian.com

Image via theguardian.com

4. The Antonine Wall 

The Antonine Wall once marked the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire. Running across central Scotland, it was built by Roman soldiers under the direction of Emperor Antoninus Pius around AD 142. The builders commemorated the construction and their struggles with the Caledonians in decorative slabs along the site. Twenty of these slabs still survive.

Image via tripadvisor.co.uk

Image via tripadvisor.co.uk

5. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh 

Together, the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh form what is arguably the one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The medieval structure of the Old Town gives Edinburgh its fairytale essence, the 18th century New Town is a beautifully preserved example of Georgian town planning and architecture.

Image via kildacruises.co.uk

Image via kildacruises.co.uk

6. St Kilda 

St Kilda is an is an isolated archipelago about 100 miles off of the west coast of Scotland. The group of remote islands is famous for hosting the largest colony of seabirds in all of Europe, as well as unique populations of sheep, field-mice and wrens. The human heritage of the islands includes various unique architectural features from the historic and prehistoric periods, as well as written records dating back to the Middle Ages.

Scotland’s six treasured historic sites were celebrated today with a day of free, fun activities at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The day brought the six World Heritage Sites to life with fun activities and informational presentations for the whole family.

Each of the six Scottish World Heritage Sites had its own stall to teach visitors more about the unique sites. Visitors were able to handle replica Neolithic and Roman artefacts, dress up as 19th century mill workers from New Lanark, and build their own Roman swords and St. Kilda Mailboats.

Find out more about celebrating World Heritage Day in Scotland here.

Have you #ScotSpirit?

VisitScotland, a partner of the American-Scottish Foundation, has launched a new tourism campaign aimed at promoting the “spirit of Scotland.”

Image via visitscotland.com

The campaign will celebrate the seven traits it believes can be found within the characters of the people and landscapes of the country: warmth, humour, guts, spark, soul, determination and fun.

The official hashtag of the movement, #ScotSpirit, is being used to unite and encourage people across the world in sharing what Scotland means to them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the campaign, along with stunt bike athlete and viral sensation Danny MacAskill, Social Bite entrepreneur, Josh Littlejohn and Olympic athlete, Laura Muir.

This is one of a series of initiatives changing the way in which VisitScotland markets Scotland around the world, the key markets being across the UK, France, Germany and New York City.

A new TV advert has been created, featuring time-lapse imagery directed by Edinburgh-based filmmaker Ben Craig, and a soundtrack composed by Giles Lamb and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In Scotland, the advert will feature a voiceover by Scottish actor and Game of Thrones star Iain Glen. In the USA, it will be narrated by Perthshire-born star of the US hit The Good Wife, Alan Cumming.

Image via visitscotland.com

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said:

“The new advertising visuals are breathtaking and I’m sure they will inspire many to make the journey to Scotland, but this is about so much more than stunning imagery. It’s about harnessing a nation behind tourism.

Image via visitscotland.com

“We want everyone who cares for Scotland to get behind this campaign by using #ScotSpirit and in doing so become ambassadors for the country and create this very special movement.”

He added: “Scotland is a unique place inhabited by a unique people – a combination that creates an inimitable spirit.

“The emotional pull of this spirit can’t be duplicated by other destinations. You have to come to Scotland to experience it.”

Have you #ScotSpirit? Get involved by using the official #ScotSpirit hashtag and sharing what Scotland means to you.

All images via visitscotland.com.

Kelpies Sculptor Andy Scott Announces Gallery Show in New York

Award winning and celebrated Scottish sculptor Andy Scott has announced that he will hold his first major gallery show in New York this coming June at the Glasgow Caledonian University Campus.

Scott received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters this past November from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in recognition of his renowned talent and creativity as a sculptor and his specialisms in the field of steel structures.”

Kelpies-9

Image via scottsculptures.co.uk

Scott, who studied at Glasgow School of Art, creates his monumental metal sculptures in his Glasgow workshop. He is most famous for his landmark Kelpies monument at Helix Park in Falkirk. He spent eight years working on the Kelpies, which are a pair of steel horse heads 30 meters high. They are the largest works of art in Scotland and the largest equine sculptures in the world. In their first year alone, the Kelpies attracted 1.4 million visitors.

In 2014, the ASF worked with Scott to bring the Kelpies to New York. The 20ft Kelpie macquettes were on display during Scotland Week 2014 on the Fountain Terrace of Bryant Park. The Kelpies attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the Plaza bringing a focus to the 100ft Kelpies which were being installed at the Helix Falkirk at that time.

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Image via flickr.com

As Andy Scott says of the Kelpies, “They stand testament to the achievements of the past, a tribute to artisanship and engineering and a proud declaration of intent for the future of Scotland.”

maquettes4

Image via scottsculptures.co.uk

The Kelpies will feature in the upcoming New York gallery, depicted with the full bodies that one might imagine to be hiding ‘beneath the ground’ at their Falkirk site. The gallery, which will last two months from June, will also feature a show of small sculptures, photographs and other images. Scott is currently working on a series of small clay maquettes, which will be cast in bronze for the show. “The process for me now is different,” he explains,  “I am working on intricate clay models when I am usually hitting something with a five pound hammer.” 

Although Scott admits that the vast amount of work threatens to “do his head in,” he is thankful for the chance to share his work with an American audience. “When an opportunity like this comes along you would be foolish not to seize it with both hands,” he said.

The American-Scottish Foundation looks forward to attending Andy Scott’s gallery show this June and will share further updates on the upcoming GCU Exhibit as they are announced.

Read more about the New York exhibition here.

Learn more about Andy Scott by visiting his website, here.

Support The ARCHIE Foundation This Giving Tuesday

ASF is a proud partner of the Archie Foundation, a charity supporting sick children in the North of Scotland. Help show your support today and with a minimum donation of $50, give a ZAINI hat to an ARCHIE child — and receive one for yourself, too!

Based in the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, The ARCHIE Foundation supports the healthcare of over 100,000 sick children every year. With Children’s healthcare being delivered in the Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, Children’s Wards in Inverness and Elgin and numerous community hospitals throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the ARCHIE Foundation ‘Makes the Difference’ for these children by providing state of the art equipment, highly specialist staff posts, cutting edge research and, of course, lots and lots of toys!

Zaini hats, the brand, was launched by Scottish ski instructor Miranda Harper in 2010 as a result of an impossibility to find a comfy, colourful and stylish enough beanie hat. Based in a small village in the highlands of Scotland, people wear beanies all year round and once friends and family saw her hats they all wanted one. So she got back to her crochet hook and put together more colorful designs. Zaini hats use 100% super soft acrylic yarn, which ensures a non-itch, cashmere feel and is durable in all weather.

Pay via our secure facility at Paypal, or make a separate donation to the ARCHIE foundation on our site. Minimum requested donation is $50, but please feel free to be more generous!

Year of Food and Drink Scotland Releases Breathtaking New Video

2015 is the Year of Food and Drink in Scotland, and from the look of this recently released VisitScotland video, it’s sure to be a mouthwatering twelve months.

A Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland and Scotland’s Food and Drink, the Year of Food and Drink will spotlight some of Scotland’s finest cuisine and beverages, as well as the gorgeous locations where they are found.

“The Year of Food and Drink is a fantastic opportunity to show off at home and abroad the delicious local produce we have right on our doorstep and to build on the already phenomenal success of our food and drink sector,” commented Food Secretary Richard Lochhead. VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “The Year of Food and Drink will see visitors far and wide come and sample our enticing natural larder and Scots enjoying the delicious cuisine that is right on their doorstep.

Take a look at the video and preview some of the incredible places and tastes the Year of Food and Drink Scotland will be featuring:


To learn more about the events and featured dishes of the initiative, visit the Year of Food and Drink 2015 homepage.

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