Ahead of tonight’s event with storyteller and author Grace Banks, SWC’s Literary Editor Rachel Walker chatted with her about her love of nature, the spellbinding world of the story and the importance of narratives in today’s modern world.
You’re a storyteller, singer and author. Do you find that these three disciplines feed naturally into one another?
Telling and creating stories are part of my fabric and something I have enjoyed since I was a wee toot. My love of song has naturally melded into this; they complement one another well. Recording the tales was a natural progression and, when given the opportunity, started with traditional tales and legends and am now beginning to record my nature tales and songs for the benefit of others.
Do you have a favourite Scottish legend or myth?
I have many I love, and some stories and songs that have been significant in my own journey, but in my experience, I’m finding more and more that the story appropriate for whatever listening circle I’m in will show itself, rather than me just telling a story.
You’ve mentioned previously that you find nature essential to artistic development. For you, is there any particular place that you feel most inspires your creativity?
I love the green and I love the sea, so sometimes my need is for wide open places, like Newburgh, which is just a few miles from my home, or sometimes out to a forest or woodland. It is the refreshment of laying aside the busyness and just being; resting in the life around me, without the demands of a strident lifestyle.
Have you always been fascinated by myth and legend?
All my life I have been interested in tales – traditional, legends and those around me – what story places have hidden. Are there dwellings or graves beneath that round hill? Did a community live around here? What were their lives like? I love the opportunity to speak with the older generation to hear their tales, especially their own.
Finally: why do you think storytelling and ancient myth are important today?
In an age where everything moves so fast and eyes are glued to screens which appear to be extensions of human hands, the need for the living, breathing word is vital.
The ability of story to allow the learner to step into a world of their imagination – expanding the senses with colour, sounds, smells, tastes – is increasingly becoming a rare first-hand experience in our digital world. Story is often about relationships with others, or the land or nature. It gives room for the listener to reflect, often subconsciously, on their own lives and their place in relation to who and what is around them. There is very little repetition in our modern day society – most things have to be new or changed to be acceptable. Stories are like aged stones; weathering and changing shape gradually, but they remain constant, valuable reminders of what has been and will be again, for those who care to stop and listen.
The elders of old would be the ones to guide and impart wisdoms and truth, so the caretakers of tales need to cherish the rich tapestry of the past to provide individuals and communities with the opportunity to see beyond the ‘selfie’.
Thank you so much to Grace for her wonderful words of inspiration! Please come along to the CCA tonight for a chance to learn more about Grace’s process and thoughts – all are welcome!