Atomic Doric

From 29 November to 1 December 2013 an exciting festival of new art and music will celebrate the glorious landscape of Aberdeenshire and the people it has inspired.

The Atomic Doric project, run by Woodend Barn in Banchory and supported by Royal Deeside & Cairngorms and VisitScotland as part of the Year of Natural Scotland, aims to show that you don’t have to be a birdwatcher to engage with nature.   Creative arts are frequently inspired by nature and we hope these events will shine a light on several breath-taking SNH sites for a new audience or provide a new perspective for our regular visitors

St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

St Cyrus National Nature Reserve – an inspiration for those who love both nature and the arts.

A number of distinguished Scottish musicians and artists have been involved in the project throughout the year and have been specially commissioned to create new art, music and performance pieces based on their experiences in the Aberdeenshire countryside.  These unique works will be debuted at the Atomic Doric festival, offering audiences the chance to be the very first to see and hear these artistic creations.

Several artists spent time at stunning SNH reserves, drawing inspiration from their surroundings to influence new art.  Fiddler Paul Anderson will premiere a selection of tunes inspired by Muir of Dinnet.  Fiddler Hayley Durward, a choreographer and dancer from Aberdeen, has created a new piece in response to St Cyrus.  The Noize Choir has taken ideas from the scientific wonder, Burn O Vat, and artist Chris Dooks has directed short films inspired by both Muir of Dinnet and St Cyrus.

Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson (image copyright James Dyas Davidson)

Musician Paul Anderson says, “Getting inspiration for a new piece of music isn’t like a maths problem with a perfect answer. You need to tap into what the location provides; it’s like meeting a person and getting to know their personality. I like to take a lot of photos and soak up the essence of the place, and then go to a quiet room to work on each piece.

“Artistic projects like Atomic Doric help draw attention to the fantastic landscape on our doorstep, welcome new visitors and allow people to celebrate the areas they grew up in. If we can’t look after the places we’re from, then something is very wrong.”

The festival has also involved some of the reserve’s key staff, such as Reserve Manager Therese Alampo who held musical walks at St Cyrus.  Therese has always been in love with nature: she has wanted to work in the great outdoors for as long as she can remember, and began her career at a bird sanctuary when she was just 13. She has now worked professionally on nature reserves for 15 years, with the aim of preserving Scotland’s incredible countryside for future generations.

Reserve Manager at St Cyrus, Therese Alampo, releasing a gannet

Reserve Manager at St Cyrus, Therese Alampo, releasing a gannet

Before moving to St Cyrus, Therese was stationed on the Isle of May for seven years as a ranger. The difference between the two, she says, is quite dramatic: “On the Isle of May it was noisy and exciting and a real wildlife spectacle. St Cyrus is subtler but equally engaging and fascinating; there is incredible wildlife and wonderful plants everywhere.

“St Cyrus is also very accessible compared to some other reserves. You don’t need to jump in a boat to get there, so it can be visited by the general public.”

Therese’s favourite moments on the reserve are the more peaceful ones. She says, “The best part of the job is being able to go out onto the reserve in autumn and winter, when it’s nice and quiet, and just enjoy the beauty of the landscape.

“For me, experiencing the great outdoors is one of the most important things in life. Visiting our beautiful countryside helps ground people; it takes them away from work and enables them to relax.

“Looking at Scotland’s stunning landscape through non-academic mediums like music and art allows you to perceive things differently. It gives you an innocent or childlike perspective on life, and helps you realise that everything is inspired by nature.”

For more information and to book tickets for all Atomic Doric events, please visit

For more information about St Cyrus click here

And to explore Muir of Dinnet visit

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