|The Moffat Ram|
"Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Vice-Consul of the Russian Federation, honoured guests, neighbours, friends and colleagues, I would like to welcome you all to the TRANSlation TRANSformed conference. I am Andrew Wheatcroft, chair of Moffat Book Events. I am an international historian, and a publisher.
· What is Moffat Book Events? A charity that exists to promote culture and science of and for Moffat, founded in 2011 by Elizabeth Roberts and Mrs Marilyn Elliott. Moffat is a good place to meet and exchange ideas, as it has been for more than three centuries. It provides a perfect venue for developing dialogue, and that is what we intend this weekend.
· Translation Transformed' is Moffat Book Events' second international conference with a Russian theme. It is concerned with the key importance of translation in every aspect of our interconnected world. Both this event and last year's celebration of the life and work of Alexander Men stem directly from a personal connection – the long standing working relationship between Dr Ekaterina Genieva MBE, director of the huge cultural complex, the State Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow, and Elizabeth Roberts, now here in Moffat.
· This connection has proved a very fruitful connection for Moffat.
· 2014 is the official UK Year of Russian Culture and Language and Moffat Book Events is working with The British Council to create a programme in Scotland. We heard yesterday how we shall be collaborating in the Russian programme of celebrations. Moffat Book Events will also be working with a Russian team to present Moffat – the place and the people in word and in image - , to Russia.
· Our Russian colleagues say that showing Moffat to Russians will get across a dramatic impression of what Culture and Language means in ordinary people’s lives. Part of our work this weekend is taking those plans forward;
· Dr. Genieva arrives this evening for the whole weekend, and next year we look forward to helping our Russian partners to organise future professional/cultural tourism, using our special local knowledge and expertise; we look forward to assisting in the organisation of exhibitions here and in Russia; in other words, the partnership will be working harder and getting stronger.
· So before handing over to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs and our other honoured guests, I should like to thank:
- our Russian partners, the State Library for Foreign Literature, and the Institute of Translation
- The British Council,
- Our thoughtful and reliable supporters Forestry Purposes LLP
- Our unflappable organiser Alan Thomson
- And, personally, I want to thank Liz Roberts for her energy, persistence and inspiration, and to all who have made this event possible."
Cabinet Secretary of State for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP then gave a rousing speech followed by Russian Federation Vice-Consul Konstantin Kirilin.
A highlight of the evening was provided by Professor Alan Riach who declaimed his and others' translations of poems from Gaelic and Russian to memmorable and moving effect.
Antonina Kliuchareva presented a PowerPoint slide show about Yasnaya Polyana, home to world famous Russian 19th century novelist Leo Tolstoy. The evening wound up with a showing of the film 'Russia's Open Book' introduced by Stephen Fry, featuring five contemporary Russian writers seen speaking frankly about their work and Russia today in their own homes and in various other settings.