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Giant puppet kicks up a Storm in Wick

By David G Scott

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An enormous sea goddess walking the streets of Wick could have been a scene out of a Godzilla film but Monday night's event was part of an arts festival that saw thousands turn out to witness the spectacular scene.

The team at Lyth Arts Centre (LAC) who organised Wick's Northern Lights Festival say they have been "overwhelmed by the success" of the Storm procession through the town.

Storm walks on to Martha Terrace. Picture: DGS
Storm walks on to Martha Terrace. Picture: DGS

LAC co-director Charlotte Mountford said: "Despite the rain, the community of Wick showed up in force to support the Storm procession. We have been really overwhelmed by the fantastic response from both the crowds that gathered on Monday night and the massive online views from across the world through the livestream."

The Storm puppet had blinking eyes. Picture: DGS
The Storm puppet had blinking eyes. Picture: DGS

Spectators, many clutching umbrellas, braved constant rain as they lined the streets to watch the 10-metre-tall “mythical goddess of the sea” march from the harbour to the town centre. At one point the huge puppet had to bow down to avoid cables running across the width of Martha Terrace but soon continued on her route towards the town centre.

Storm's journey was the showpiece event of the eight-day festival produced by Lac and was the biggest community event in the county for more than two years.

Onlookers of all ages watched as the giant puppet – created by Edinburgh-based Vision Mechanics from recycled materials – rose to her feet from the quayside and made her way slowly to High Street and Bridge Street, promoting a message about the importance of protecting Scotland’s coasts and waters. Storm was accompanied by a soundscape from folk singer Mairi Campbell.

Storm on her way through Wick. Picture: Mel Roger
Storm on her way through Wick. Picture: Mel Roger

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said: "The work that Lyth Arts Centre has done to stage such a fantastic festival at the start of the darker nights, combining light and spectacle, is amazing.

"It’s exactly the exciting kind of community engagement project that we need and you couldn’t ignore the fact that so many tourists were still here and had the opportunity to see it. The event looked absolutely stunning, hugely entertaining and totally complimentary to the rest of the week’s festivities including the illuminations at the harbour, harbour boat tours, musical entertainment and a whole load of other events. It has all been absolutely terrific."

Ms Mountford continued: "The evening was big local hit, and an international success. It will be a highlight of Northern Lights Festival, which continues throughout the week. We'd like to say a special thank you to all the volunteers who helped Storm walk through the town, particularly the Wick RNLI crew who we couldn't have done it without."

Local Highland councillor Jill Tilt said: "I went last night and thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was fantastic to see such an enthusiastic turn out despite the weather.

"She [Storm] had a perfect name for the evening, it wouldn’t have been the same if it had been a warm summer evening. Congratulations to Lyth Arts Centre for putting on a fantastic display, It was a lovely way to spend an hour on a Monday evening."

Northern Lights Festival events continue until Saturday, with a mix of film screenings, exhibitions and talks centred around a series of outdoor projections in the harbour area that utilise archive footage and images.

The festival is supported by EventScotland through Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 and Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund.

Programme information can be found at lytharts.org.uk/northern-lights-festival

Storm approaches the end of her journey through Wick town centre. Picture: Alan McGee
Storm approaches the end of her journey through Wick town centre. Picture: Alan McGee

Related article:

Spectacular art festival includes 10-metre tall goddess walking through Wick Harbour

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