IF YOU have visited the small Lanarkshire market town of Strathaven recently, you may have spotted them - groups of young people, gathering outside the monuments, gazing at the castle, deep in discussion, brows furrowed in concentration.

For the last few weeks, pupils of the town’s high school have been working with local artist Mhairi Anderson on a fascinating project which will shine new light on the area’s rich past.

Glasgow Times:

This is Generation Strathaven, a clever and creative community collaboration which aims to use art to document the town’s past and present through the eyes of multiple generations.

A nine-day celebration, starting on Saturday, will include an exhibition featuring the works.

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“The idea was to bring history and heritage up to date, in a way,” smiles Mhairi, an ex-Strathaven Academy pupil and founder of Creative Strathaven CIC (Community Interest Company).

“Sometimes it can feel like history is the preserve of the town elders, that they are the gatekeepers of an area’s past, so we wanted young people to feel they had a voice too.”

Glasgow Times:

The Generation Strathaven organising committee, which includes Mhairi, Strathaven Conservation Area and Regeneration Scheme (CARS) member Les Hoggan, and community representatives, were keen to include Strathaven Academy students from the beginning.

Over the last few weeks, pupils have been venturing into the Strathaven community to capture businesses, people, areas, and elements of the town they identify as an important part of their personal history, using creative methods such as photography, drawing, and painting.

Glasgow Times:

Generation Strathaven will also involve local businesses, organisations, artists, and primary school students for site-specific exhibitions and events. Local history tours, featuring members of local drama group The Rankin File, will run on various days, offering a unique perspective on well known and some surprise landmarks. Frets Acoustic, part of Frets Creative in the town, will hold its latest off-the-beaten-track concert featuring well known Scottish musicians (this time, it is the turn of The Bluebells) on March 20 in the Strathaven Hotel and The Hub will also host Creative Strathaven’s first storytelling event Thought Bubbles, with a local history theme, on March 18.

An installation called The Washing Green at Allison Green in the centre of the town will take visitors back in time.

Glasgow Times:

Mhairi explains: “This part of Strathaven was the communal drying green, where people would hang out their washing, so for Generation Strathaven, we are taking it back to those days.”

Strathaven Academy first year pupils Cameron, David and Kaitlyn have been creating artworks to show in the exhibition.

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Cameron said: “You’re reliving the past. Art’s a good way to express your feelings and it’s fun.

David agreed: “I’ve enjoyed learning about history through art.”

Glasgow Times:

Kaitlyn added: “It has been interesting trying printing and using different materials. This project has made me feel that my place in the town’s history is important.”

Generation Strathaven runs from March 14 to 22. Visit www.creativestrathaven.co.uk for more information.