Festival Events

Check out this link for more information about how to get involved in To Absent Friends 2015.

A fantastic array of open events took place as part of To Absent Friends 2014:

parliament reception

On 30th October 2014, Michael McMahon MSP hosted a lunchtime reception at the Scottish Parliament, introducing To Absent Friends, a people's festival of storytelling and remembrance.

Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care introduced To Absent Friends, within the context of ongoing work to improve people’s experiences of death, dying and bereavement in Scotland.

Guests were treated to a presentation by award-winning Glasgow-based photographer Colin Gray, on his latest exhibition: Colin Gray: A journey with his parents through love, life and death. Ron Butlin, poet and writer, closed the event with a recital of his poem A recipe for whisky.

The event was well attended, including by MSPs Aileen McLeod, Jim Hume, Jamie McGrigor, Siobhan McMahon, Nanette Milne, Rhoda Grant, Graeme Day, Jim Edie and John Mason.

The reception also premiered an exhibition of the To Absent Friends: Essence of a Memory photo competition which ran as part of the Luminate Festival in October. Competition winners were: Under 18s: Emma Fraser; Aaron Hawthorne; Connie Sneddon; Over 18s: Laura Christie & Evelyn Smillie; Alan Dawson; Finola Scott; Morag Ewing

A gallery of all competition entrants can be viewed here: Essence of a Memory photo gallery.

Many guests also shared their own personal tributes to absent friends, which have been made into beautiful and moving tribute wall - view the gallery of tributes here.

Essence of a Memory: an exhibition in words and pictures

A thought provoking public exhibition on display at the Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow from 3-7 November 2014 will show how positive sharing stories of loved ones who have died can be.

The exhibition showcases winning entries from the To Absent Friends Essence Of A Memory competition which ran recently as part of the Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing. The competition encouraged entrants to submit words and an image which evoke a memory of someone they love who is dead.

The image to the right is by Morag Ewing, one of the competition winners:

This is Jess, Dad.​

The first of your seven grandchildren you haven't yet met.

You are so missed.

Christmas, weddings, births – you are within each of us but missing.

Kind twinkling eyes, strong smooth hands, fresh cut wood shavings.

Honesty. Tradition. Faith.

I hope I make you proud.

Shona Robinson, Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow, Hospice Manager said: “We’re inviting the local community to come into the hospice to view the exhibition, which is a fantastic way to show that bereavement isn’t something that should be hidden away, but is a normal part of everyone’s life experience. There are some poignant and thought provoking words and images on display but also some humour too.”

Marie Curie is displaying the exhibition as part of To Absent Friends, a people’s festival of storytelling and remembrance, which runs for the first time this year from 1 to 7 November. The festival comprises a range of events focused around sharing stories and memories of dead friends and family.

Competition winners are: Under 18s: Emma Fraser; Aaron Hawthorne; Connie Sneddon

Over 18s: Laura Christie & Evelyn Smillie; Alan Dawson; Finola Scott; Morag Ewing

A gallery of the competition winners can be viewed here: Essence of a Memory photo gallery.

Scottish Rugby International

At the Scotland vs Argentina viagogo Autumn Test rugby international on Saturday 8 November, players and fans remembered absent friends.

SRU President Ian Rankin said: “We all have memories of friends who have been part of our lives and perhaps it’s been part of our Scottish psyche to reflect quietly ourselves rather than chat to others about that contribution.

“We welcome the opportunity to support To Absent Friends, especially at a time of the year when remembrance is uppermost in our thoughts.”

Colin Gray: a journey with his parents through love, life and death

Colin Gray exhibited a selection of works documenting his 34-year collaborative journey with his parents. It included work from The Parents series, which started in 1980; from In Sickness and in Health, photographs that explore his parents’ older age and his mother's death; and a preview of new work from Do Us Part, his ongoing series of images of his father and daughter.

The exhibition took place in the North Edinburgh Arts Centre from 1-7 November and was also a part of the Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing, in the same venue from 1 October - 31 October.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra quartet

Musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra treated the audience to a special evening of music, storytelling and remembrance.

The RSNO’s string quartet performed beautiful music by Beethoven, Ravel, Barber and Mozart, interspersed with thoughtful words and poetry.

Wednesday 29 October 2014, 7pm
Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

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