SCAN Decades: our 2023 event series

DECADES is a programme of free conversational events marking SCAN’s first ten years of activity by looking to the next ten years. Matching friends, collaborators and alumni in Scotland with the thinkers, activists and organisers who inspire them, each 90-minute event centres an issue prescient to the lives of artists, art workers and the wider public.

We know that the past few years have seen our contemporary art community work harder than ever in navigating the compound challenges of COVID-19, Brexit and an unfolding cost of living crisis. DECADES marks a conscientious pivot for SCAN, making a space away from the present tense to envisage futures with expertise summoned from across disciplines, experiences and borders.

DECADES is an invitation to think laterally about the world we want to build and what tools we’ll need to do so. With topics including the future of arts education, artists and the housing crisis, new visions for civic space and institutional power, each event asks what conditions are needed to make a liveable world for all and a thriving environment for contemporary art in Scotland.

DECADES takes place over a number of weeknight sessions, online and in venues across Scotland.

Coming up next:

A composite image of Mairi and Ainslie, in their headshots both white women look windswept in mountainous rural landscapes

‘Stepping into the Carrying Stream’ with Mairi McFadyen and Ainslie Roddick

Tuesday 13 June, 1pm
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“Why then have we permitted the dominance of economic systems that commoditize everything? That create scarcity instead of abundance, that promote accumulation rather than sharing? We’ve surrendered our values to an economic system that actively harms what we love.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Speaking from our lived experiences in Highland and Island communities, we view this conversation as an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is so essential and powerful in culture and creative practice (as well as, of course, the things we need to give more attention). Together we will reflect on the possibilities open to us through exploring ideas such as degrowth, radical localism, cultural equity, value, language, naming invisible work and ecologies of exchange.

Our conversation will be guided by the metaphor of the ‘carrying stream’ (Hamish Henderson). To step consciously into the carrying stream is to participate in the endless flow that makes up human history. Exploring culture as something that is carried and not gate kept – an unfixed, undeterminable, moving thing – we’ll call into question practices of competition, categorisation, valuation, and individualism.

A connecting thread through our conversation will be resistance to the commodification of culture and creativity, and how we might seek out and reclaim radical, rooted and life-affirming practices. The idea of conviviality here becomes a vital tool and praxis, making space together for people to gather and connect, to learn together, to disagree, to interrogate our current systems and to imagine and rehearse more hopeful futures.


Mairi McFadyen lives in Abriachan near Inverness. She is an independent freelancer and creative collaborator working across the interconnected roles of educator, writer, researcher, organiser, facilitator, ethnologist and fieldworker. Her work engages with themes connecting across folk culture, land, environment, ecology, climate justice and degrowth as a hopeful alternative to extractive capitalism. Her creative practice is informed by her academic background in creative ethnology and her research in human ecology; both share an emphasis on active engagement and change-making informed by critical scholarship. Most recently, Mairi has been a local participant in A Fragile Correspondence commissioned by the Scotland+Venice partnership and curated by the Architecture Fringe, -ism, and /other, exploring alternative perspectives and new approaches to the challenges of the worldwide climate emergency.

Ainslie Roddick lives in the Isle of Skye. She is Director of ATLAS Arts, which supports a programme of long-term artist commissions, alternative education projects, events, residencies, screenings and gatherings across Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh. ATLAS’ projects are rooted in this area, responding to its histories and speculative futures, climates and ecologies. ATLAS’ team work in different locations depending on the nature of each project – connecting people, generating collective resources, and building communities through creative practice.

Since 2020, ATLAS’ team and artists have started projects such as The School of Plural Futures (an alternative school led by young people and Emmie McLuskey), the Making Publics Press (a free-to-use book press and publishing imprint), From Plockton to Portree (a boat build project with Malcolm Mackenzie), and Dàn Fianais (a film portrait of Skye by Andrew Black). Whilst working as Curator and Programme Coordinator at CCA Glasgow she learned more about library-making, publishing and open source resources – co-founding Publication Studio Glasgow and the Glasgow Seed Library.


This event will be held online via Zoom. AI-generated captioning will be available to attendees through an plugin.