The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is programmed by people from all across Scotland. To celebrate this year’s Connected theme, we want to introduce you to some of them. Today, we meet Keith Walker from Creativity in Care, part of the team that coordinates the SMHAF programme in the Highlands. 

What does Connected, SMHAF’s theme this year, mean to you?

It means so many different things, so many connections to people, to ideas and to place but above all, I freally value the connections that are made with so many likeminded people and organisations throughout this year’s festival.

How long have you been putting on events at the festival, and what made you get involved?

My first involvement was in 2009, when the festival came to the Highlands for the first time, and I’ve been involved in one capacity or another in every year since then. It all started with a phone call from Lee Knifton and when he described the aims of the fesltival to me I was hooked immediately.

How would you describe where you live to someone who had never been there?

As the most beautiful and welcoming place on Earth, even on a cold, dreich winter’s day.

Can you give us an example – more than one if you like – of an event in your area that sums up the spirit of the festival?

For several years now, we’ve closed the Highland festival with a Gathering event, where all of the many & diverse festival partners bring some of the creativity and share it. It’s in the spirit of an old-style ceilidh and always leaves me feeling part of something wonderful.

Who or what do you feel most connected to?

That’s really hard to give a single answer tobecause there are so many connections and such a wide variety of people and things to which I feel connected. I think, at the moment, it’s family who I feel the strongest connections with, but I only have to step out of my door to feel part of the physical world I live in.

What have you most enjoyed at SMHAF this year?

So far, it would be the screening of Final Ascent, and the discussion which followed with the film’s director Robbie Fraser. Mind you, I fully expect that to be trumped by the Gathering when it comes around!

The Highland Gathering takes place on Tue 28 May from 2-7pm at Inverness Town House. The event is free and you can find more information here. Image by Lar MacGregor.