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Article published 30/05/2022

2022 was Scotland’s Year of Stories. It spotlighted, celebrated and promoted the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Each month we heard from people with a passion for stories, and got an insight into their work. 

There are lots of different ways to tell stories and we caught up with Luke Winter, to find out about life on board his Story Wagon.

What is your job and how did you get into this line of work?

I take Story Wagon around Scotland, helping people write and tell stories. Helping good stories to happen is at the heart of my zest for life. My previous job was busking stories-while-u-wait using a typewriter on the streets. I love working in the streets, it feels important to keep public spaces alive.

What is Story Wagon?

Story Wagon is a touring story sanctuary. We offer creative writing, writing for wellbeing and traditional storytelling activities.

It was built during 2021, partly in response to the pandemic, when a lot of libraries were shuttered and indoor mixing was banned. It provides a well-ventilated arts venue that can pop up on streets, squares and greens to provide activities.

It was built at Gogarburn Cabinet Works outside Edinburgh, using a lot of salvaged wood: old church pews and offcuts from the carpenters. The histories of these materials; cedar, mahogany, andaman padauk, quickly encompass the whole world, and the story of global trade, colonialism, extraction, reforestation. 

The funding came from a crowdfunding campaign supported by 210 people, which raised £11k, and Creative Scotland, who funded £9k of the budget. 

The reaction to the Wagon so far has been incredible. People really enjoy encountering a freely accessible space to express their creativity. Working on the streets helps us to work with a broad spectrum of the public. We love working with people you wouldn’t necessarily find in a library.  

Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re working on as part of the Year of Stories?

We’re working with Scottish Book Trust to assist the Community Campfires project. We’ve worked in North Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Fife and the Western Isles, running a week of story making activities in each district. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Meeting people and hearing their stories. It’s impossible to expect what will come out of someone’s mouth before you start talking to them. I love to have my preconceptions and prejudices loosened by each conversation. 

Why do you think stories are so important?

The brilliant Scottish activist and academic, Alasdair McIntosh, said it best:

Because we are all interconnected, living with one another means getting to know one another’s stories. It means understanding one another not just on the surface, but from the inside out.

Alasdair McIntosh

Do you have any favourite places in Scotland that have inspired you?

The Isle of Arran holds lots of brilliant memories. But anywhere you go in Scotland is so saturated with stories, folklore and half-told memories, you’re never far from a great story here. 

What else are you looking forward to in Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022?

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October is brilliant every year but I think 2022 might be its best yet!

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