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Dandelion Set to Sow, Grow and Share Across Scotland

Thu 21 Oct 21

First details of a series of major creative programmes taking place across Scotland in 2022 are announced today, including Dandelion, an innovative new initiative inviting people all over the country to get growing, sharing and celebrating food, music, and ideas with their communities.

Dandelion will demonstrate the power of collective action in a Scotland-wide ‘grow your own’ initiative. Rooted in Scotland, with an international outlook and sustainability at its heart, the Dandelion programme follows the arc of the growing season, from April to September 2022, and will culminate in hundreds of Harvest Festivals across Scotland – reimagining the cultural celebration of harvest for the 21st century, led by the next generations of producers, musicians and growers.


Dandelion logo

Dandelion, commissioned by EventScotland and funded via the Scottish Government, is Scotland's contribution to UNBOXED, the UK wide celebration of creativity and innovation, which unveiled initial details of its programme today, featuring 10 specially commissioned projects. In addition to Dandelion, five other projects within the wider programme will also present activity at locations across Scotland.

Driven by the concept of ‘Sow, Grow, Share’ – Dandelion will share not just food but ideas, new music and knowledge, while taking an innovative approach to community growing. Bringing together musicians, makers, scientists, performers, and technologists, the initiative features an inventive six-month long series of events and installations running April to September 2022, combining food growing, music, cooking and public art in partnership with arts and community growing organisations across the country. Inspired by the global ‘grow-your-own’ movement and a surge in home-growing during lockdown, Dandelion aims to make growing your own food as easy and accessible as possible to people of all ages across Scotland - from the remotest islands to the centres of cities - as well as to audiences online and around the world through films and digital activities.

The programme will see gardens and growing spring up across Scotland in unexpected places, from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands, in urban, rural, and remote locations. Whether indoors or open-air, on unused or forgotten land, in gardens or in surprising spaces, Dandelion will show that even the unlikeliest place can bloom, through individual or community action. Both beautiful venues for visitors to enjoy and active growing spaces, 13 Unexpected Gardens will be established in surprising places, open to the public from April to September 2022.

Each will host a specially curated programme of cultural events, working with dedicated emerging creative producers and musicians in residence, while growing produce with community partners for the local area. Delivered in partnership with host venues and organisations, the gardens will be established in locations across Scotland including Caithness, Ross-Shire, Moray, Uist, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Inverclyde, Argyll & Bute and Fife, alongside a ‘floating garden’ moored in Falkirk and touring the canal network.

Dandelion team holding up the vegetables they've grown in Glasgow

At the centre of Dandelion, sit the Cubes of Perpetual Light, miniature vertical farms created to foster accelerated growing by combining design craft, traditional horticultural expertise, and technological innovation. The cubes will appear in the Unexpected Gardens and other locations across the country, hosting new music commissions by Scottish and international artists – that emanate from inside the cubes - fusing innovative artistic and scientific practice together in stunning objects symbolic of Dandelion’s wider programme.

Dandelion will also present two major public events – free, outdoor live music and food festivals, taking place in Glasgow around Midsummer in June and Inverness at Harvest time in early September. Audiences will enjoy live music from a diverse range of Scottish and international artists, alongside locally grown food offerings and a programme of talks and workshops. Full programme details, including featured artists, will be revealed next year.

Running alongside the public programme, Dandelion engages the next generation of growers, with 100,000 children and young people also invited to participate in The Dandelion School Growing Initiative which will see 200 specially adapted growing cubes distributed to 100 secondary schools, working in partnership with 400 feeder primary schools. Pupils will become citizen scientists in the largest community-led growing experiment ever undertaken in Scotland, comparing future farming techniques with traditional growing. Children and their families will later share the food they have produced, alongside art, live music, and stories, at hundreds of playground Harvest Festivals. The Schools Growing Initiative is delivered in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful, a charity providing education initiatives for children, young people and educators which focus on environmental issues.

The Dandelion team brings together festival organisers, freelancers, cultural directors, inventive technical and production experts, artists and producers, renowned earth scientists and dedicated specialists in sustainability, youth and community engagement. Drawn from a wide range of organisations and specialisms from all parts of Scotland, the team has a common vision to initiate and support the genuine societal change people crave after more than a year of social isolation. Announced earlier this year, team members are based across Scotland and include: Cosmo Blake, Sustrans; Fiona Burnett, Hannah Rudman and Ruth Vichos, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); Neil Butler, Wrap The World; Fiona Dalgetty, Fèis Rois; Angus Farquhar, Aproxima Arts; James Johnson, getMade Design; Pàdruig Morrison, Musician and crofter; Tanveer Parnez, BEMIS Scotland; Donald Shaw, Celtic Connections; Nicola Strachan, James Hutton Institute; Caroline Thompson, Inclusion & Evaluation Specialist.

Beyond Dandelion, Scotland will also host five other projects presented as part of UNBOXED. These have been developed by commissioned teams with members based across the UK, who will tour elements of their creative programmes to locations across Scotland, as well as other parts of the UK.

The UNBOXED programme opens in Paisley next March, with About Us, a large-scale public event that tells the story of the infinite ways in which we are connected to the universe, natural world, and one another from the Big Bang to the present day. About Us combines live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. The live show will transform buildings and landmarks in five towns and cities including Derry -Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull, in addition to Paisley - into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping technology and a new score by composer Nitin Sawhney performed by local choirs.

The outdoor installation will incorporate submissions from a UK-wide poetry and computer coding competition for children and young people launched today. About Us runs for a week in each location, with bespoke multimedia installations open throughout the day and multiple free performances every evening.

Following About Us are four other commissioned projects, whose activity will be presented at different locations around Scotland, parallel to DandelionStoryTrails will bring together augmented reality, new developments in 3D internet technology and the next generation of creative voices to shape one of the most ambitious people’s living history and archive projects ever undertaken. It is an immersive experience that will bring to life untold stories from the past and stories of belonging from today that will reanimate our towns and cities and inspire a UK-wide conversation about who we are, and where we are going. Local libraries, streets, town squares and public spaces will be transformed into virtual portals through which to explore stories of historical change in 15 UK locations – in Scotland, Dundee and Dumfries. The StoryTrails creative team, led by StoryFutures Academy (run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS), and delivered in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI), broadcaster and film-maker, David Olusoga, will work closely with communities in each of the towns to uncover unknown, surprising and intriguing stories.

Dreamachine is an artwork ‘seen’ with your eyes closed that explores the limitless potential of the human mind – both collective experience and unique to every individual. Dreamachine was inspired by artist Brion Gysin’s little-known 1959 invention – the ‘Dream Machine’ – a homemade, flickering light device that created vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the viewer. Over sixty years after its original invention, Gysin’s concept has been radically reimagined into a major participatory programme, featuring a live experience that will tour to the four capital cities of the UK nations, including Edinburgh. Audiences will enter an immersive environment of light and sound. Within this communal space, designed as a place for introspection and reflection, each member of the public will have a unique and unforgettable experience, as they close their eyes to experience vibrant, colourful imagery, as rich as any digital simulation but created by the magic of their own mind. Invited to share their experiences, visitors will be able to contribute to one of the UK’s largest scientific research projects of its kind, led by Professor Anil Seth from the Centre for Consciousness Science, to explore the most fundamental connections between us - how we perceive and create the world around us. Dreamachine is produced by Collective Act, a collaboration between Turner Prize-winning artists Assemble, and Grammy and Mercury nominated composer Jon Hopkins.

20,000 people are being invited to help create Green Space Dark Skies, a series of major interventions that celebrate the UK landscape using new light technology and experienced by audiences online. Sites across National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including a number in Scotland, will be illuminated in dramatic chains of light from sea to beach that spread down mountains like a burning fuse or stream through valleys. Led by UK outdoor arts pioneers Walk the Plank working in collaboration with technology company Siemens, the project takes as its inspiration the 1932 Kinder Scout mass trespass, an act that led to the establishment of access rights to the countryside. Participants, known as ‘Lumenators’, will be recruited from local communities and equipped with handheld lights that make moving pictures across the landscape to be filmed and shared online. Developed by Siemens, the lighting technology uses existing wireless programmable lights and incorporates something that's never been done before: the ability for these lights to be animated through geo positioning, where the position of each light can be known in relationship to the others.

Lastly, PoliNations is a pop-up forest garden that celebrates the multicultural origins of the UK’s people and plants through immersive installations, live music, talks and performances. Starting with a single monumental tree structure in Edinburgh, PoliNations will ‘grow’ into an immersive forest in the centre of Birmingham filled with real and fabricated trees as well as plants, grasses and flowers grown in collaboration with local communities. From daisies to horse chestnut trees and dahlias to the rose, many of the plants that we consider to be native to the UK originate overseas. PoliNations is a celebration of diversity in the UK, exploring multiculturalism through the metaphor of the incredible biodiversity of our plant-life. Created and produced by Bristol-based arts organisation Trigger, this inclusive, interactive event draws on experts in the fields of horticulture, science, architecture and the arts from the likes of Chelsea Flower Show to Notting Hill Carnival and London 2012 to Ru Paul’s Drag Race (UK).

The projects taking place in Scotland offer an exciting and unique opportunity for audiences, participants, communities and visitors to experience ground-breaking creative programmes designed to question, provoke, delight and intrigue, while showcasing the incredible creative talents of STEAM practitioners across Scotland and the UK. Scotland’s own commission, Dandelion, extends an invitation for people around the country to get involved in growing, learn more about sustainability and share food, music and traditions with their local community. The programme provides moments for creative thinking, community engagement, local investment, job creation and career development, alongside opportunity to support the recovery of local communities and industries badly impacted by the global pandemic.

All events taking place in Scotland next year are delivered collaboratively by EventScotland in partnership with UNBOXED and individual project teams. EventScotland is the strategic delivery body for Scotland as appointed by the Scottish Government, and is also the commissioner of the Dandelion project, funded via the Scottish Government.

One of the real pleasures of working with the Dandelion Collective has been the chance to work collaboratively as a team that brings together musicians, scientists, artists, makers, performers and technologists to create something truly worthwhile in a period of deep collective insecurity. Working with Scotland’s Rural College and the James Hutton Institute has brought scientific rigour to bear on lively artistic ideas and generated a fresh way of thinking that we believe will lead to new developments in the fields of community growing and climate-responsive art practice. Dandelion represents both urban and rural participation and aims through the simple pleasure of growing and sharing good food and new music, to re-establish Harvest as a significant annual festival for everyone, led by the next generation of creative practitioners.

Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of Dandelion

The interaction of food growing, science and culture in the Dandelion programme creates a huge opportunity to capture the moment of rediscovery for many over lockdown of the climate and wellbeing benefits of growing your own food, and develop it massively across Scotland. There are so many challenges to the future of producing food fairly and sustainably and the opportunity to fully integrate local food growing with new technologies, music and culture and get people celebrating and growing food again in this programme through our Unexpected Gardens, our festival events, and schools programme, has the potential to create a lasting legacy for the project. Linking the science of food growing to the music and food festivals gives it real heart and visibility bringing in so many more people of all ages to take part and create real impact and change. Our citizen scientists across Scotland’s schools will also be measuring the impact of science and culture on their plants - they will test futuristic growing systems to feed and raise their crops but also explore whether music nourishes their growth in the same way it does ours as part of a range of fascinating and fun activities which can actually inform the future of food production.

Fiona Burnett, Professor of Plant Pathology at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Dandelion’s Science and Growing Lead

The exciting plans for Dandelion, and the wider UNBOXED programme unveiled today are a wonderful example of how innovation and creativity can truly flourish when individuals combine their knowledge, expertise, and perspectives, and are given the opportunity to imagine events in bold and ambitious ways. Scotland has a long and proud history of pioneering spirit and ingenuity – it’s a place where great minds continue to collaborate and connect. We are delighted to support Dandelion, a hugely passionate and committed team who embody these values as they take forward their creative vision and engage communities right across Scotland in a unique programme of events and activities. It will provide many inspiring moments for us all to share across 2022, as well as the opportunity to support recovery across sectors, while reinforcing Scotland's place as the perfect stage for events

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

Scotland’s creative and events industries have a world-class reputation and the inspirational programme of activities planned by Dandelion showcases the breadth of that artistic vision. It’s hugely important too that, in terms of accessibility, the Dandelion offering will be available to audiences right across Scotland. Culture has a vital role to play in driving our recovery from the pandemic - the celebration of creativity and innovation through our participation in UNBOXED aims to support Scotland’s collective wellbeing and the events and culture sectors in that endeavour.

Scottish Government’s Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth

Full details of each project programme, including dates, times, locations, how to get involved or visit events and attractions, will be published by each project team between now and project delivery in 2022.

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