Art North Newsletter No.2

A copy of our Newsletter that was sent out yesterday
1 June 2019

The debut issue of Art North magazine that appeared last March, seems a long way off now, but with hindsight one sees that the enduring theme that ran through that first issue concerned climate change, and the environmental impact that our species is having on this planet. What is striking about our debut issue now, is just how much the Arctic was viewed through the lens of those who associate the Far North with ice, ice-melt, glacial erosion, tundra, and the many tropes that go with those features of The North as 'a mindset’. 
 
A couple of weeks ago, however, as I sat writing my Editorial for Issue 2 of Art North that goes on sale imminently (and that subscribers will be receiving soon), across the far north coast of Scotland, what I could see was not ice or snow, but the grey-yellow plumes of smoke drifting across the northern reaches of NW Sutherland from wildfires that were burning not more than twenty kilometres from here. For a fifth day, approximately nine square miles (25 sq km) of peatland had already been lost, and 5,000 acres (2,023 ha) of rich habitat, too.

Scottish Fire & Rescue Service at Strathy North Wind Farm  (used with kind permission of Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, ©SFRS, 2019. All other images, public domain).

Scottish Fire & Rescue Service at Strathy North Wind Farm (used with kind permission of Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, ©SFRS, 2019. All other images, public domain).

Six Scottish Fire & Rescue Service units (plus a helicopter deployed to water bomb the fire) were assigned the task of suppressing the blaze that affected the electricity supplies to homes and businesses alike. Indeed, among the businesses affected was Art North magazine itself. The run up to taking a magazine to press is always stressful, but when the surrounding territory is ablaze, and flames are taking down power lines or burning underground conduits that carry power from the nearby wind farms, the reality is that that our power is lost as the supply is switched off. 
 
Over four crucial days we had power outages of up to 8 hours to secure the safety of fire crews and engineers, and emergency generators were eventually trucked in to replace the grid supply here. How much we rely on electricity (renewable or not) to power the very tools required to bring Art North to fruition? Without power we were not just without computers, but without WiFi signal, cellphone networks, and everything else that we have all come to rely on or, in some way or other, often take for granted.

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Had we not already missed two rescheduled Print Deadlines due to loss of power, Art North Issue 2 would probably be with you by now if you subscribe, and with our stockists for those of you who do not. As I wrote in my Editorial for the magazine that is now on its way, “I won’t hide the fact that Issue 2 has been a difficult issue to bring to fruition, for all the reasons mentioned above,” but in getting Issue 2 to the printers as near deadline as we possibly could is, nonetheless, evidence of the really hard work put in by a very small team who found some ingenious workarounds for us to be able to do so.

The story doesn’t end there, however!

It is a truism to state that deadlines go with the territory in publishing, and I’m cool with that. Nothing focuses the mind more than a printer waiting on a job that has been delayed due to wildfires and power outages, after all. Little did we know, though, that having caught our ‘final-rescheduled-final-print-deadline’ by a whisker, another issue pertaining to working from the Far North Coast of Scotland would scupper our best efforts to deliver Issue 2 to you on time – Yes, we are currently a week late, and such things matter; to me, and to you the reader. So what’s the deal here? 
 
Many living in the Far North of Scotland will be ever-aware that there exists a problem when it comes to deliveries from a limited number of haulage and courier companies; beyond a certain line north of Inverness, that is. With a printer in Edinburgh chosen for their proven track record of lithographic printing of arts publications, transportation of each issue of Art North to our unit here is another challenge that we work 'creatively' with.

In short, what is shipped by truck from south of Inverness frequently gets transferred on to smaller vehicles for the onward three-hour journey north. But! What happens when the freelance driver with a white van, decides to... well... how can I put this? ...Take 6 days off work between pick-up and delivery? Oh Yes!

Your original copy of Art North that I wrote about in my Editorial a fortnight ago, was last thought to be languishing in the back of a van somewhere while the driver enjoyed a little extended rest and recreation, and not even the courier service that signed it out to ‘White Van Man’, could locate him. It beggars belief, I know, but the question is, Is there an upside to this? Yes and no. I guess it did offer me the opportunity to explain why we are late by going back to my Editorial in the magazine and updating it... 

“But how can that be if it was already printed?” you may well ask. 

It goes rather like this (though I am extracting the expletives that resounded at the time): Hard as we have tried, and believe me, we have really tried, with nobody able to track down the whereabouts of either the driver or our first print run (have you guessed yet?) ...I bit the bullet, updated Art North Issue 2 with this sickening news, and bit the bullet once more, saying: “Print it again!” 
 
Having worked 18-20 hour days to catch up on the delay caused by wildfire and power outages to produce a quality arts publication from the Far North of Scotland, the copy that I hope you will soon have in your hands will be from our second print run, therefore. As we went to press again, where the first print run would be found, if at all, was still anybody’s guess.
 
In closing, therefore, I thank you (our readers and subscribers) for your patience – if you have made it this far down the page – but I do believe that the forthcoming issue will be worth the wait. Easy for me to say, because I've seen it, but I'll be interested to read your feedback when you do, too. I also think it is a testament to; (a) our ingenuity and determination, and; (b) our bloodymindedness in refusing to be beaten. If Art North is about anything it has always been about overcoming obstacles, and on this point we are undeterred.
 
Just to add, I should also say that this is the first of two Newsletters going out between now and when the magazine finally goes on sale. In the next Newsletter, coming soon (and shorter, I promise), I will be bringing you word of what is actually in Issue 2.

Until then, I wish all recipients of this Newsletter our very best wishes, and I sincerely apologise for the delay.
 
With Warmest Regards,

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Ian McKay
Editor, Art North

PS. We still have a limited stock of Issue 1 of Art North available if you missed it. You can order securely online now via the following link and we will dispatch the next working day: https://artnorth-magazine.com/buy