Orkney minister stars in Holyrood exhibition


A campaigning eco-minster from Westray features in a unique art exhibition illustrating 10 personal experiences of the Scottish Parliament opening in Orkney this week.

The Rev Iain MacDonald, Church of Scotland Minister for Westray and Papa Westray, who led the Time for Reflection at Holyrood in 2008, is just one of 10 men and women featured in ‘Moving Stories’ – a travelling audio-visual exhibition which began its journey in Glasgow in April before moving to Oban in May. The exhibition will be open to the public at Orkney Library and Archive from Monday 6 July – Thursday 23 July.

The exhibition focuses on the personal stories of 10 different individuals who have engaged with the Scottish Parliament since its establishment in 1999 – and forms part of a series of events marking Holyrood’s 10 year anniversary.

Each of the stories is set in its own polling booth – with feedback being entered by placing comments in a mock ballot box.

The Rev MacDonald’s story focuses on his work with the island communities in Orkney to improve facilities and resources for local people – and the fact that his congregation was one of the first in the country to get an eco award.

The exhibition also features Gemma Mackintosh from Inverness, who campaigns for improved support for those living in Scotland with a visual impairment.

The exhibition will remain in Orkney until 23rd July then continue to make its way around the country taking in Ullapool, Aberdeen and Lanarkshire amongst others.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said:

“The ‘Moving Stories’ travelling exhibition is an integral part of the programme of engagement focussed activities that the Scottish Parliament is undertaking to mark its tenth anniversary. The collective experiences of those featured in ‘Moving Stories’ illustrate the many different ways in which people have engaged with the Parliament and its Members. Individually, their stories help us to see what the Parliament means to different people, and what motivates people to interact with us.

“During 2009, the exhibition will travel the length and breadth of Scotland giving people the opportunity to see the many ways in which they can become involved with their Parliament.”

The 10 people featured in the exhibition are:

  • Gemma Mackintosh, Highlands and Islands, campaigns for improved support for those living in Scotland with a visual impairment.
    “I am one of the examples of many people with additional needs who has been failed by the education system. I want to change the system and how they deal with children with visual impairments.”
  • Reverend Iain MacDonald, Highlands and Islands, led Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament.
    “People here are thoroughly engaged with community, with social justice issues. A real community is defined by how it looks after its most needy.”
  • Tina McGeever, Highlands and Islands, submitted an e petition on ability to access cancer drugs on NHS.
    “We decided that we were going to start a campaign, although the word campaign didn’t really come into it at the time. Michael wrote a letter and I fired it off to everyone on my email and asked them to send it to their MSPs, so that was the start.”
  • Rebecca Brown, Central Scotland, carried out a work placement at her local MSP constituency office.
    “The realisation that politics is everything. You don’t really have an option…you really should be involved, it’s going to affect you anyway.”
  • Amal Azzudin, Glasgow, campaigned against the practice of dawn raids on failed asylum seekers.
    “What the campaign has achieved more than anything is raising awareness…that was all we could do.”
  • John Muir, West of Scotland, submitted a petition on tackling knife crime following the death of his son.
    “I think that the public in Greenock and surrounding areas did recognise that the situation that Damian found himself in could have been their son or their daughter…something’s got to change.”
  • John Macleod, Lothian, lodged two petitions on Gaelic matters and is heavily involved in Gaelic and Gaelic cultural matters in Edinburgh.
    “What was behind the campaign was the need for special status for the language to enable sustainable developments for the future.”
  • Bob Reid, South of Scotland, submitted a petition to establish Off-Road Motorbike Facilities.
    “I am a great believer that there is a key to every young person, no matter what their problems are… give them a new challenge, something they can relate to, something they can belong to.”
  • Walter Baxter, North East Scotland, organised a petition objecting to the merging of specialist care units for people suffering a brain haemorrhage.
    “Having a brain injury is a very difficult scenario to go through, not only for yourself, but for the people who are looking after you. There is very little aftercare for people with brain injuries.”
  • Claire Ewing, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
    “Politics is everywhere and everything but young people don’t see that…
    if you want it then you’ll fight for it…you need to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing.”

The photography in the exhibition is by the Scottish Parliament’s official photographers Adam Elder and Andy Cowan and the interviews were carried out by freelance oral historian Catherine O’Byrne.

Time for Reflection gives people from different faiths, beliefs and walks of life an opportunity to share their thoughts with the Parliament at the start of business in the Debating Chamber each week.

‘Moving Stories’ exhibition will also visit:

  • Macphail Centre, Ullapool; Thursday 30th July – Friday 14th August
  • Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline; Monday 17th August – Sunday 6th September
  • Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum; Friday 11th September – Sunday 4th October
  • New Lanark Museum Trust; Saturday 10th October – Tuesday 27th October
  • Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange; Tuesday 3rd November – Sunday 22nd November
  • Scottish Parliament, Main Hall, Holyrood; Friday 4th December – Wednesday 19th December
  • Stranraer Library, Stranraer; Saturday 19th December – 16th January 2010.
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