We all know the saying about what stories walls would tell if they could talk.
A new project led by the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is set to spotlight the unheard stories of those who should be honoured with a specific focus on marginalised and underrepresented voices.
Talking Statues will also look to set the story straight on existing statues as we learn both uncomfortable truths and lesser-known achievements of those already celebrated by monuments. A Scotland wide call to action has been launched today asking the public to research and to imagine who should be on a plinth as it’s time to tell their story.
These stories will then be shared as part of a special event led by storyteller Mara Menzies on October 27 as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Budding storytellers can also take part in a free online storytelling workshop on October 20 in advance of the sharing event and an online discussion on social media will take place on October 26 using the hashtag #TalkingStatues.
As part of the project, Mercat Tours will run special Talking Statues walking tours in Edinburgh, every Saturday in September and October (tickets now on sale, tours starting September 4).
On the tour, Mercat’s five-star storytellers will explore the stories of people immortalised (in bronze) but often forgotten; a fighter, surgeon, a scientist, and an explorer amongst others.
In addition to their tales, you will also explore the gaps in the skyline – the statues that we don’t have and should be celebrating. Including people like Bessie Watson the youngest ever suffragette, Elise Inglis the medical pioneer and Joseph Knight a former enslaved servant who won his freedom in a landmark case that found slavery could not be enforced by Scots law.
Miriam Morris, Storytelling Development Officer at Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, said: ‘Many of us pass by statues every day without even thinking about them, why they are there and who they represent. As we re-examine our past and look to a better future this project was created to help share stories that deserve to be heard.
‘They might be hidden histories behind monuments we pass every day or celebrations of those worthy to be put on a pedestal.
‘For that reason, we are inviting people to research local community or family history by using archives, libraries, online portals or simply strike up conversations with friends and neighbours and we look forward to sharing the stories that are uncovered as part of this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival.’
Tania Dron, creative development manager at Mercat Tours said: ‘We’re delighted to have the opportunity to create this special tour as part of the Talking Statues project.
‘Mercat Tours will take you on a journey to explore who you’d like to celebrate on a plinth, who we currently look up to and whether they are all worthy of their pedestal. The key may lie in knowing the stories behind the depictions so we can decide whether we look up to them or whether we look up at them and remember their failings can teach us as much as their successes.’
Those wanting to find out more about the project, share their discovered stories or take part in the free online workshop event can email Miriam Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow updates on social media @scotstoryforum.
To book a place on the Talking Statues tour visit HERE.