Architecture, Art & Spirituality

The annual Solas Festival brings together music, art and ideas over a 3 day period across several fields in the heart of Perthshire with King Creosote, Lesley Riddoch, Gerry Hassan, Liz Lochhead and many others interacting, performing and exploring ideas of relevance to this years's theme - Creative Commons. Brian Park contributed on the theme of Art, Architecture & Spirituality, avoiding the obvious focus on our work with churches and our 'thin' places considered in different ways as being sacred such as Lindisfarne, Callanish and Iona...though he could not resist reference to the highly evocative sculptural work of Subirachs at Sagrada Familia.

The impact of our environment on our spirits and our wellbeing can be considered across many building types and the notion of healing spaces was explored through reference to Charles Jencks "Architecture of Hope" - a publication on the significance of the Maggie's Centres, two of which have been our responsibility. The outpouring of grief and emotion in the wake of the Mackintosh Building fire at GSA has highlighted that buildings that matter may 'just' be sticks and stones but can have a profound impact on who we are. There is a spiritual dimension to creative output. But buildings CAN be just sticks and stones and have little or no meaning to people. And they can also engender negative emotions and adversely affect our wellbeing. That is our challenge as architects and artists as we respond creatively to people and places to engage in what, in some senses, is the ultimate art - the architecture which we live and work in and through. Brian illustrated how we aim to have that positive impact through our Places to Live, Creative Workspace and Arts & Culture 'centres of gravity'.

Brian also engaged through panel discussion with an artist, art historian and architectural writer and teacher considering the theme of Common Place. In discussion with the audience it was relatively easy to identify external and internal space which we love to be in and return to but how often these were historic places or in other countries. Through our City & Land masterplanning and other work, we seek to understand context and where we have come from so that our urban and other interventions have meaning in a much deeper sense than simply the visual 'correctness' of being good townscape. The importance of People first, then Places, then Buildings and the folly of working the other way round (as reflected in a quotation from Jan Gehl in the Scottish Government's 'Creating Places' policy statement) was discussed as a good foundation, acknowledging the need to have a deep understanding of all to contribute to society in a meaningfully positive manner.