By Fiona Grahame
Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in the US where every year on the 4th Thursday in November Americans mark the day white migrants from Europe were saved from starvation by the savage natives they had come to improve. It is immediately followed by a celebration of consumerism, ‘Black Friday’, now extended to include ‘Cyber Monday’.
This year Black Friday falls on the 29th of November when those with cash to spare rush out to shopping centres, high streets or increasingly online to buy mounds of stuff they have somehow managed to survive without all year.
St Andrew’s Fair Saturday
As an answer to this splurge of consumerism Scotland will be holding a Fair Day Saturday. As a global event Fair Day Saturday takes place on the day after Black Friday but in Scotland it is being tied into our National Day celebrating St Andrew. Scotland’s St Andrew’s Fair Saturday is on 30th of November 2019.
St Andrew’s Fair Saturday is the complete antithesis of Black Friday. It is an international celebration by artists and cultural groups where money raised goes towards a social cause. The Scottish Government is supporting the initiative which will see activities and events taking place all across Scotland.
Exhibition at the Northlight Gallery, Stromness
This year Martin Laird, Cary Welling and myself with help from The Orkney News will be holding an exhibition celebrating and exploring the lives of the men who were killed when HMS Pheasant struck a mine off Rora Head, Orkney on 1st of March 1917.
The men came from all over the UK and Ireland. They were from all walks of life and different faiths. This was a snapshot of a time that was already changing but after the slaughter of war things would never be the same in their communities.
Exhibition Opening Times
The exhibition opens on Saturday 30th of November at the Northlight Gallery Stromness from 2 – 4pm. It will then be open every day from 11 am to 4pm up to and including Saturday 7th of December. The exhibition is free and is suitable for all ages.
This year, as last year, the charity we will be supporting is Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service. It provides support for anyone who has experienced sexual violence or abuse. In a close knit island community this is an essential confidential service for those in need of advice or support. It offers locally based help for survivors extending it to non abusive family and friends. Importantly the organisation also takes its work out into the community to:
“Work towards the prevention and ultimately the elimination of sexual violence, supporting social change by raising awareness and understanding of rape and sexual violence, challenging myths and campaigning.”(O.R.S.A.S)
St Andrew’s Fair Saturday 2018
Last year The Orkney News held an exhibition about the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society at the Northlight Gallery, Stromness: ‘A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm’. Martin Laird went on to make the award winning animation linked below. The animation was shown not only in our local cinema, The Phoenix at The Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall but across the UK and France at Film Festivals.
The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society over 100 years ago campaigned vigorously for social change with the first public meetings in Kirkwall and Stromness on the issue of votes for women taking place in 1871. Made up of men and women – teachers, artists, Ministers and local gentry the Society was about much than votes for women. As suffragists they believed very much in social reform and the positive change that would come about in legislation with female suffrage.
Our 2019 St Andrew’s Fair Saturday exhibition is part of a staged process towards the making of a 45 minute documentary about the Men of HMS Pheasant 1917 and the communities they came from. On Saturday 23rd of November I delivered a public talk on some of the aspects of their lives. It is available to listen to on Soundcloud. Click on the link to access it.
Scotland has changed
The Scottish Government is taking a global lead tying the day into Scotland’s national day. It underlines the changes that have taken place at a governmental and societal level in our nation around inclusion and embracing diversity. This is a Scotland regaining its confidence internationally and expressing it through an explosion of creativity. We are very much looking forward to taking part in this international movement and celebrating St Andrew’s Fair Saturday in Orkney.