Canongate's 40th birthday list celebrates the best of contemporary Scottish storytellers – here are the 40 multi-disciplinary creatives they're banking on defining the next four decades
Alasdair Brotherston & Jock Mooney – Animation/Illustration
Alasdair Brotherston & Jock Mooney met while studying at Edinburgh College of Art in 2000. Since graduating they have developed successful careers in animation and sculpture before first collaborating on Throw Me To The Rats in 2008. In 2009 they signed to Trunk Animation for commercial representation where they have made a variety of multi-award winning projects in animation, live action and illustration.
Jenni Fagan – Novels/Short Stories
“Fagan's Panopticon heralds the arrival of a brave new talent, I think. It's astonishing, written with great verve and brio, a disturbing compelling book, about a 'holistic' home for young offenders, where the inspectors can see the offenders at all times without being seen. It's a vividly imagined world and Anais Hendricks is a heroine that comes crackling into life.” – Jackie Kay
Rob Williams – TV
Rob was previously Creative Director at Penguin Books. He is also the writer and founder member of 26, an association of writers and language specialists. He was selected as one of eight writers for the BBC Writers Academy 2008/9 to be trained and commissioned to write for Doctors, Casualty, Eastenders and Holby City. He has just been commissioned by STV to write a series, due to air next year.
Rachel Maclean – Visual Art
"Rachel's work slips inside and outside of history and into imagined futures, creating hyper-glowing, artificially saturated visions. She is a Glasgow based artist working largely in video and digital print, often exhibiting this alongside props, costumes and painting." – Calum Colvin
Paul Wright – Film
Released through Warp Films, For Those in Peril "marks Paul Wright as one of the most original and audacious new talents to emerge in British filmmaking," says Chris Fujiwara.
RM Hubbert – Music
An integral part of the Glasgow DIY scene and also known as a member of post-rock outfit El Hombre Trajeado, RM Hubbert has become widely-recognised for his intimate acoustic sound and prolific live output. As Alun Woodward of Chemikal Underground puts it, "Melancholy that speaks of humanity, love and hope all conveyed through 6 strings and 10 fingers by an unassuming man with a lot of soul."
Donna Leishman – Games/Digital
"Her narratives are brought to life as illustrations animated using Flash. There is a dark undertone hidden behind wide eyes in this work, a density of layers to be explored. She is a current recipient of an Alt-w Fund award to create a new work Front as part of the Project Ginsberg mental health platform." – Mark Daniels
Neil Forsyth – Books/TV
Creator of the hugely successful Bob Servant character, Neil Forsyth first brought to life the Bard of Broughty Ferry as a way to entertain himself and play havoc with email scammers. Three books, a radio show, and now a TV adaptation later the public has proven hungry for the strange, parochial outlook of Bob.
Gill Hatcher (Team Girl) – Comics/Graphic Novels
Ariadne Cass-Maran describes Team Girl as "an all women collective who tell stories and give women in Scotland a place to put their work, whether they're beginners or experienced, young or old. A valuable part of the scene." With a background in freelance illustration and graphic design, Gill Hatcher's comics work flits between the fantastical and the real and as editor of Team Girl she provides a unique platform.
Yann Seznec (Lucky Frame) – Games/Digital
A BAFTA-winning creative studio based in Edinburgh, Lucky Frame are responsible for games such as Wave Trip, the iOS music-creation/arcade hybrid. They were also involved in the Mac version of Proteus, the critically acclaimed freeform exploration game where the melding of audio and visuals form the narrative.
Will Morris – Comics/Graphic Novels
The Silver Darlings, Will Morris's first graphic novel tells the story of Danny's coming-of-age final summer at his Ayrshire home, before leaving for Glasgow. Delicately illustrated and paced, it is just as Ariadne Cass-Maran would have you believe: "Properly, properly beautiful."
Alasdair Roberts – Music
"I first came across Alasdair through a shared interest in Scottish Ballads. He sent me a recording he'd made of the ballad Clerk Colvill, which totally transformed my impression of this precautionary tale. However his storytelling is at its strongest when performed live. His band, Alasdair Roberts and Friends carried me away to some place and time half-familiar and half-imagined." – Will Morris
Simon Meek (The Story Mechanics) – Games/Digital
2013 saw the release of his 'Digital Adaptation' of The 39 Steps. This tablet and desktop game represents a bold experiment in how to present a novel that weaves interactivity around the story, preserving the source text in its entirety.
Michael Pederson – Poetry/Spoken Word
His debut collection of poems, Play With Me, has just been released to a wealth of positive reviews and contains hilarious and thought-provoking reflections on youth, friendship, relationships, travel and much more, all through an authentic voice that can in a single phrase both reach for the stars and scurry in the gutter. As host of Neu! Reekie! Pederson is leading the way in the Scottish spoken word scene.
- Heredity by Michael Pedersen, from Play With Me. Out now, published by Polygon, £9.99
William Letford – Poetry
William Letford has worked as a roofer, on and off, since he was fifteen years old. He has also received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust and his debut collection of poems, Bevel, that incorporates various aspects of the job and the working class experience more generally. There are identity crises, faltering relationships and observations of mountain life in Italy, where he spent time restoring a medieval village.
Kirsty Logan – Short Stories/Journalism
A writer of both journalism and fiction, Kirsty Logan's dark, adult fairytales have been read on Radio 4, published in numerous anthologies and have recently won the Scott Prize. Her debut collection, The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales will be published by Salt in February of next year.
Tom DeMajo (Quartic Llama) – Games/Digital
"Tom is a co-director of Quartic Llama, which in the space of a year has become one of the most exciting independent game development studios in the UK. Tom is the creative heart-beat behind the studio's output to date, and was responsible for the artistic direction of Other, a site-specific horror game that was published in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland." – Danya Galloway
Fielding Hope – Music
"Fielding Hope represents everything that is good about the creative scene in Scotland. Under the moniker of Cry Parrot he has been bringing the most interesting contemporary music from around the world to Glasgow and beyond, as well as showcasing the most exciting local musical talent. In a world where the 'alternative' music scene is often either mercenary or boring or mercenary and boring, Cry Parrot puts on shows with bravery, generosity and integrity." – David Shrigley
James Graham (The Twilight Sad) – Music
"James Graham is arguably one of the more evocative lyricists to have risen from our music scene in a number of years. At the time The Twilight Sad formed, while others were still adopting American-English and watering down their roots in search of chart success, James was fearlessly using his own native tongue as a conduit to bring the compelling imagery of a childhood spent in the Scottish countryside to life." – Dave Kerr
Ryan Van Winkle – Spoken Word/Poetry
"Ryan is a great, exciting, engaging poet who experiments with live performance, theatre, AV as well as poetry. His poetry / theatre experiment Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel which he presented at the Fringe last year, was intimate, engaging, critically incredibly well received and took poetry to a whole new audience." – Kath Mainland
Finn den Hertog – Theatre
Recently selected to be part of the National Theatre of Scotland/Arches Auteurs Project 2013/14, Judith Doherty describes Finn den Hertog as "one of Scotland’s most exciting young theatre makers – a storyteller across many disciplines as he not only writes but also acts and directs. Finn is on the cusp of an incredible, multifaceted career as a story teller and Grid Iron feel privileged to be part of his development."
Tom Gauld – Illustration/Comics
A cartoonist and illustrator with a weekly cartoon in the Guardian, Tom Gauld has published numerous graphic novels, including the Eisner Award-nominated Goliath. As Francis Bickmore puts it: "Tom Gauld manages to combine storytelling and comedy into cartoons and graphic novels that have a huge amount of poignancy and potency.”
Kieran Hurley – Theatre
"Kieran Hurley's political integrity, combined with a clever use of humour and emotional sensitivity gives him a huge capacity to issue a rallying call to action for the next generation of audiences, artists and activists." – Jackie Wylie
Sandra Marrs & John Chalmers (metaphrog) – Comics/Graphic Novels
Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers have been creating comics, graphic novels and illustrations since 1996, gradually building a loyal following and receiving critical acclaim worldwide. Their Louis series has received several prestigious award nominations, and was also privileged to receive support from the Scottish Arts Council and Creative Scotland.
Matt Hulse – Film
"Matt Hulse is a filmmaker who is deeply committed to finding innovative ways of telling stories and his work raises profoundly interesting questions about what it means to tell, or to receive, a story. His film Dummy Jim was made (largely) in Scotland and tells the story of a highly unusual Scotsman, the deaf James Duthie, author of the 1951 book I Cycled Into the Arctic Circle." – Chris Fujiwara
Morna Pearson – Theatre
"Morna is an award winning young playwright with a darkly comic and bitingly political voice, who sees the world unlike anyone else: in all its idiosyncratic and tragic glory. Her use of a kind of post-modern Doric brings a timeless quality to her work, although it is entirely contemporary and about the here and now." – Orla O'Loughlin
Joyce Gunn Cairns – Visual Art
"A visual artist living in Edinburgh whose work I like – she has drawn portraits of me that my wife does not detest" – Alasdair Gray
William Goldsmith – Comics/Graphic Novels
Based in Glasgow, William Goldsmith's debut Vignettes of Ystov began life as a one-page comic he created for art college. Seeing potential in the themes and style he began to craft more stories of this fictional Eastern-European town. He is currently working on his second graphic novel, to be published in 2014.
Emma Davie – Film
A documentary filmmaker and Programme Director of FIlm & TV at Edinburgh College of Art, Emma Davie's I AM BREATHING documents the compelling and highly moving story of Neil Platt and his family as his condition deteriorates from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease. "It is a sensitive, intimate and in many ways life-affirming narrative that has done much to raise the profile of the condition and a fight for a cure." – Chris Breward
Shona Reppe – Theatre/Puppetry
Shona Reppe is dedicated to creating small-scale theatre for children and their families. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning show, The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean, was a multi-disciplinary journey into the imagination. Her forthcoming installation, Huff, is based on the 3 Little Pigs.
Maria Fusco – Visual Art
"Maria established the art writing MA course at Goldsmiths University. Now based in Edinburgh, she has been instrumental in a reappraisal of how writing is regarded within visual culture." Kate Gray, Collective Gallery
Harlequinade (Alasdair Maloney) – Spoken Word/Film/Theatre/Music
A polymathic performer who incorporates elements of performance poetry, literature, opera, puppetry and clowning, Harlequinade's often surreal shows can just as likely draw from mythology as they can celebrity culture.
Tommy Dutch (Too Much Fun Club) – Visual Art/Performance
A visual art and illustration collective based in Edinburgh, Too Much Fun Club take their work into the world, creating large-scale murals at events, clubs and outdoor festivals.
Eleanor Thom – Novels/Short Stories
With a deep fascination for languages and movement, Eleanor Thom's 2009 debut novel The Tin-Kin was based on photos, artefacts and memories of her mother's Travelling family. Widely lauded, it was the recipient of The Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award.
Ruth Barker – Visual Art/Literature/Performance
Based in Glasgow, Ruth Barker is an artist working mostly through performance and writing. Her recent performance, Of Gilgamesh, and Others, was a six and a half hour reading of an original text.
Will Anderson – Animation
Winner of the 2013 BAFTA for Best Animated Short, Will Anderson's The Making of Longbird has been recognised and screened internationally to great acclaim. A frequent collaborator with Ainslie Henderson, their short Scroogin on a Greg is about the dangers of peer-pressure amongst pigeons.
Rob Drummond – Theatre
A writer and performer with a true gift for the dramatic, Rob Drummond's plays probe the larger questions of life and existence, while offering the audience accessible, often shocking scenes. His show, Bullet Catch, debuted at last year's Fringe and has recently toured the Americas, drawing people in with the promise Drummond will allow a member of the audience to shoot him in the face.
Texture – Spoken Word/Hip-Hop/Journalism
Texture aka Bram E Gieben is a poet, journalist and hip-hop writer. Co-founder of Chemical Poets and Black Lantern Music, he performs with live literature group Writers' Bloc. Addressing futurism, politics and identity, his writing and performances are intense, vivid and violent. Currently working on a novel nominated for the 2012 CWA Debut Dagger, he is also the Staff Writer for The Skinny.
Ruth Paxton – Film/TV/Visual Art
An impassioned young Scottish filmmaker and visual artist, Ruth Paxton's work is heavily influenced by popular culture and has been celebrated for its surreal, unique and often humorous style.
Rabiya Choudhry – Visual Art
A painter who creates complex iconographies that draw together both a European and a Pakistani tradition, exploring ideas of identity, gender, religion and sexuality. Choudhry has recently worked with Blameless collective, a graffiti group who created work for Stirling prison and the new Leith mural.
We think you'd like
Author Yuri Herrera on 'the American problem that Mexico is suffering'The literary voice of Mexican author Yuri Herrera transcends his native land and tongue, crosses the U.S. border – so significant in his writing – and forces the wider world to listen. We chat ahead of his date with Edinburgh International Book Festival Read more »| 30 Jul 2015
Rhyme and Reasons: Poetry picks for Edinburgh FestivalLooking through the 2015 Festival line-up – including a Skinny sponsored Kate Tempest event – 2015 StAnza Poet in Residence Clare Mulley ponders that elusive theoretical point on the arts spectrum between 'poetry' and what is now known as 'spoken word' Read more »| 30 Jul 2015
No Definition Required: Janice Galloway on JellyfishPrior to her appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival, award-winning writer Janice Galloway talks to The Skinny about 'sex and love and parenthood'. All contained in Jellyfish, her dazzling new short story collection. Read more »| 30 Jul 2015
Memories of Murder: Aly Sidgwick on Lullaby GirlAuthor Aly Sidgwick has created a work of contrasts - existing between Scotland and Scandinavia, literary skills and genre thrills. Here she talks to The Skinny about her debut novel Lullaby Girl. Read more »| 29 May 2015