'What kind of country do you wish to live in?'
While Scotland debates its political identity in preparation for an independence referendum, Edinburgh artist Angus Reid considered it was time to answer this question for himself. As a film-maker and visual artist as well as a writer, he decided to invite people across Scotland to join him in giving thought to the fact that - as he says - "We have no written constitution... no form of words that define a contract between a people and a government'. Mr Reid believes that the result of having no such defined constitution is that 'certain values are easily over-ridden".
He has written a poem, Call for a Constitution, which will be displayed in the members' area of the Scottish Parliament from 17th-28th September. Before then, Caithness Horizons in Thurso is just one of a variety of locations from Dunbar to Lerwick to Uist where the poem will pop up, encouraging the Scottish public to engage with the quest to define the values by which a people's government takes political action in their name.
The democratic process of making a personal mark as an individual within society is the device Angus Reid uses to bring his poem to life as an inter-active art installation. In each venue, the poem will appear in a unique public space, chosen to allow the passer-by to connect with the reflective purpose of the words. Beside the poem will be space for the public to leave their own mark, comment or handprint, joining MSPs and other communities in Scotland in a national response to the idea.
"I wish people outside the parliament ... to know that that gesture is making an impact in the parliament at the same time. The poem ... invites a certain respect - a stillness, a contemplation - and it also invites people to participate. The act of participation is very significant, and a good way to achieve that is to encourage people to leave a handprint. I shall do this in the parliament, and I hope it is done wherever the poem is on display."
Visitors to Caithness Horizons in Thurso can see the poem and make their own response from Thursday 30th August until Friday 28th September. Angus Reid himself will install the poem in the foyer of the building, and will give an illustrated presentation about the project and his work there on Thursday 30th August from 2pm. Members of the public are invited to attend this free event, and to participate in the artist's Call for a Constitution.
The project is supported by Creative Scotland.
For more information, and how to participate go to www.angusreid.co.uk
You can see and act on Angus's Call for a Constitution at:
Caithness Horizons, Old Town Hall, Thurso, Caithness
29 August - 28 September 2012; Mon - Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Tel. 01847 896508