Into The Mountain @ Cairngorm National Park

Take Me Somewhere's guided walk through the mountains, Into The Mountain feels unlike anything that's been attempted before

Live Review by Mirren Wilson | 10 Jun 2019
  • Into the Mountain@ Cairngorms National Park

If you haven’t heard of Nan Shepherd, we highly recommend giving her a quick Google. Her most famous quote – “It’s a grand thing to get leave to live” – makes an appearance on the RBS's £5 notes, and her masterpiece of nature writing, The Living Mountain, is an honest, spiritual record of her several expeditions into the Cairngorm Mountain Range.

Lead artist and choreographer Simone Kenyon uses The Living Mountain as a stimulus and companion, working over 6 years, to create a truly immersive and transformative experience that connects the individual to the ecological landscape of the Cairngorms. Commissioned by the Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) and Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Into the Mountain is a guided walk, featuring a performance within the landscape unlike anything that's been attempted before.

As you begin your journey into the Cairngorms, kitted out in waterproofs, you’re introduced to the words of Nan Shepherd directly from her book. Along the way, several “invitations” are made to encourage you to open up your senses to the surroundings – whether that’s to really feel the ground beneath your feet, or to change your physical perspective by looking through your legs at the landscape.

The performance on the mountain opens with an ominous call and response. Featuring a score composed by Hanna Tuulikki and performed by the Into the Mountain choir made up of Cairngorm locals, the sounds are compelling, filling the environment with an organic energy. Five dancers slowly emerge from the mountain, like a pack of curious wolves, moving closer towards the audience. Through simple but entrancing choreography these five females explore and discover the earth, the moss and themselves. It’s extremely elemental with the ever-changing weather underscoring and dictating shifts in mood and imagery at every step of the expedition.

On the way back down, there’s time for reflection but it all feels very surreal, somewhat like a dream. The discussions and sights of natural beauty along the way are simple moments that can’t be recreated. In a world of fast-paced living and constant access to technology, it’s hard to stop and take those moments in; to be fully aware of your environment, appreciating the simplicity in detail. This piece is a celebratory journey of spirituality, mindfulness and connectivity with nature. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, it makes you think, if we could all channel Nan Shepherd a bit more and “get leave to live”?