Interview: Roderick Buchanan on 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival show Charlotte Squared
- Neil Cooper
- 2 August 2014
This article is from 2014
Performative piece based on life and work of 18th-century radical and political reformer Thomas Muir
As part of his Edinburgh Art Festival show, Roderick Buchanan will present 'Number Crunching', a performative piece that aims to bring the life and work of 18th-century radical and political reformer, Thomas Muir, to wider notice
What attracted you to Thomas Muir?
I've been working with his story for some years now. I attended Thomas Muir High School. None of the staff knew very much about the guy, so in about 1998 I decided to look into the story and found that I connected pretty wholeheartedly with his tale.
Tell me about Number Crunching
This is a piece about group learning and offers those involved the chance to contribute to the general archaeology of the overall project. The participant sits down at the start of the week and chooses a source that could inform the project. Through study, notes are taken and then reworked for inclusion in the master document, which is also on display for inspection by those interested to find out more about the subject. The current document, called 'skeleton' is the result of pulling info from about 12 sources. The hope is that during EAF we can add a couple more.
Why do you think Muir doesn't get the attention he probably deserves from the history books?
He has the anti-Midas touch. Everything he worked at turns to shite. His bad luck even reaches beyond the grave. Even the school named after him in 1977 is now knocked down and the name lost in the local community in Bishopbriggs.
What do you think Muir's importance is today?
With him, and what happened to him, the authorities put an end to the Scottish Enlightenment. It's important to remember that after 1793 Scotland became a repressive country to live in. Being Scottish is not just about calling to mind the good times, we have to remember the bad old days also. Of course, we can learn about the progressive and the repressive side of Scotland's story by looking at this period.
Randolph House, until 31 Aug (not 9–22), 11am--5pm, free.