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Artyness columnist and writer Barbara Henderson loves the 'Ahhh' moment of entering an exciting creative place which gladdens her heart

By Barbara Henderson

I love the ‘Ahhh’ moment when you walk through a door.

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

Take Leakey’s Bookshop – I do not think I have ever walked in there without that or a ‘Wow’ on my lips. Beyond that doorway, we enter a different world – the smell of books, and – in winter – the wood-burning stove welcomes us in.

Recently, however, I found myself saying ‘Wow’ aloud when entering another beautiful creative space: The Inverness Creative Academy café. Was it the gorgeous paintings on the walls which inspired my outburst?

No – it was a table to my left, buzzing with activity.

The local book festival, NessBookFest, were holding an open meeting where potential volunteers could find out more about getting involved with the organisation – be it as an ad-hoc helper or as a fully-fledged committee member. The distinctive black and white committee T-shirts stood out strikingly against the colourful backdrop of art – and cake!

I was only passing through, but it gladdens my heart to see NessBookFest go from strength to strength.

I understand that a good handful of new people expressed an interest, with some agreeing to sign up for committee posts there and then. What a joyful venue, for such a joyful occasion – the promise of things to come.

I write this as I prepare to head south to Arran where children’s writer Alison Page had a vision for a children’s literature festival some years ago. She found some like-minded people and applied for funding. The pandemic delayed everything by a couple of years, but finally, this year, the inaugural Wee McArran Festival will take place on the island – and I’ll be there to witness it. I bet there’ll be another emotional ‘Wow’ moment!

Hermann Hesse was right when he talked about a magic dwelling in each new beginning. It set me thinking about all the initiatives all around the north of Scotland which exist only because someone, somewhere asked a question: What if we did this? What do you think of that idea?

It is all too easy to be critical of the gap we spot, or to be despondent that the world is not as it should be.

But in small ways, we can address some of it. Wish there was an art club, or a book group, or an amateur drama company, or a creative writing group in your village or town? Well, find a like-minded person and ask them. There is every chance that they too are daunted by starting something on their own – but together it’s a completely different prospect. Together it may even be – dare I say it – fun?

The Hub - join other writers.
The Hub - join other writers.

The Inverness Writers’ Hub is also borne out of three like-minded people’s vision. If you’d like to explore writing, do come along to our weekly open space for writers to work on their own projects between 9.30am and 12 every Thursday in The Hub beside Castle Street Baptist Church on Castle Street, Inverness.

Maybe it could be an ‘Ahhh’ moment...

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