Artists tour Scotland looking for a Yes to independence

Musicians, actors, artists and writers embark on a concert tour under the banner ‘Yestival’

Lady Alba, complete with Irn Bru cans as curlers in her hair, on stage at the Yestival concert in Stirling.

Lady Alba, complete with Irn Bru cans as curlers in her hair, on stage at the Yestival concert in Stirling.

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 01:01

Mairi McFadyen shelters from the rain in a tent in the yard of Stirling’s old jail, watching artists on a small stage urge a Yes vote in September’s Scottish independence referendum.

For the past six weeks, McFadyen and a small group of colleagues from National Collective – which describes itself as “artists and creatives for Scottish independence” – have been on a concert tour of Scotland under the banner “Yestival”.

The Stirling crowd is small, perhaps 100 or so, but the August night is foul. “On the Shetlands we got a bigger crowd than David Cameron managed to get on the same day,” she said.

On stage Lady Alba, based on Lady Gaga and the creation of PhD scientist Dr Zara Gladman (27), wears Irn-Bru cans knitted into her platinum wig.

She sings a version of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, mocking former Labour MP and Nato secretary general George Robertson’s warnings about a Yes vote.

Touched a nerve

A vote for independence, the often controversial Robertson told a Washington audience earlier this year, would be a victory “for the forces of darkness”.

“We all live in a yellow nuclear submarine going down the Clyde while one in four children live in poverty,” sings Lady Alba, who has become a minor hit on Facebook.

Up to now, the majority of artists of all hues who have spoken out about independence have declared for Yes, although a minority have not, while many have stayed silent. “A positive clamjamfry of writers, artists, actors and musicians are actively supporting the Yes campaign and who can blame them?” said Scottish-born, London-based actor, Bill Paterson recently.

“To paraphrase the poet, ‘Yes is a great wee word’. It sounds kinder. It’s just nicer to say. It’s progressive. It’s the very definition of positive.

“It makes you feel that you have the reins in your hand to change society, and that’s the way people in the arts want to feel,” he said, in a gently mocking piece he wrote for the Scottish Review.

Writer JK Rowling’s thoughtful, measured critique of the independence offering – she is voting No – was influential when it came, but the effect of such contributions fade with time.

Ross Colquhoun, the graphic artist who who conjured up National Collective in his bedroom, insists the artists’ group has touched a nerve with strands of Scottish society.

Taking risks

Soon after its December 2012 foundation, it began to attract 40,000 hits a month to its website.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.