Introducing Highland Park Orkadia: Wild Yet Calm

by James Stevenson

An immersive installation celebrating the spirit and “The Light” of the Orcadian summer solstice

NEW YORK, NY (June 20, 2018) — Highland Park, the Orkney single malt with Viking soul, has partnered with acclaimed landscape designer Lily Kwong and renowned composer Gary Gunn to bring the spirit of the Orcadian summer solstice to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall. Titled Highland Park Orkadia, this three-day immersive installation is a celebration of the longest day of the year on one of the most unique landscapes in the world: Orkney, Scotland.

Remote, wild and windswept, Orkney is an archipelago situated off the far north coast of Scotland where the North Sea rises up to meet the Atlantic Ocean. The gale-force winds that assault the islands from every angle create a starkly beautiful treeless landscape dominated by native moss, grasses and heather. This in turn creates the aromatic peat — woodless, but rich in heather — that, when used to dry our malted barley, gives Highland Park whisky its inimitable flavor profile.

Under Viking rule for over 600 years and part of Scotland for the last six centuries, Orkney’s identity and culture are closely aligned with those of the Nordic countries. In true Scandinavian form, the summer solstice is one of the most anticipated days of the year on Orkney, rivaling the holidays with its spirit and traditions. On this day, the sun never quite sets. Sunrise and sunset align with the standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar and the natural breaks in the hills, creating a spectacular and spiritual link with our past and the forces of nature. Orcadians celebrate with feasting, dancing, large bonfires and, of course, Highland Park whisky.

The installation is not only a celebration of the solstice and Highland Park’s unique home on Orkney, but also a nod to the distillery’s Nordic ancestry and the Viking tradition of an immense respect for nature, exploration and creativity. Artist, entrepreneur and, by ethos, modern-day Viking Lily Kwong brings to life the wild yet calm Orkney Islands landscape with the use of flora representative of the native elements: moss, grasses and the famed purple heather.

“Studio Lily Kwong’s mission is to bring the natural world into the urban environment, and for this project we moved mountains directly into the heart of New York City. Inspired by the epic landscapes of Orkney, this piece asks Grand Central’s hundreds of thousands of daily commuters to slow down and connect — with plant life, their surroundings, their greater community and themselves,” says Kwong. “The mirrors, embedded among the more than 8,000 square feet of moss and 220 flowering heather plants, represent water, but they also offer an opportunity to reflect on our environment and our role in shaping it.”

Complementing the visual experience is an original score celebrating the mystical sounds of Orkney, created by acclaimed composer and musical portrait artist Gary Gunn. The 10-minute soundscape comprised of emotive melodic structures and enthralling sound design delivers an immersive and moving experience that transports the visitor directly to the cliffs of Orkney on the edge of the world. Through his singular style of sonic storytelling, Gunn seeks to momentarily lure commuters out of the mundane and lift them into a dynamic, meditative and enchanting state of being.

Paying homage to the cyclical aspect of nature and the balance between dark and light, the installation coincides with the launch of THE LIGHT, Highland Park’s newest expression, the counterpart to THE DARK (which launched on the winter solstice of 2017).

Highland Park’s Orkadia will give New Yorkers a moment to slow down, savor a dram and experience the breathtaking beauty of Orkney in one of the world’s grandest and busiest commuter stations.

Once the installation concludes, all plants will be donated to Repeat Roses, an organization brightening the lives of communities around the US by repurposing plants and giving them second and third lives.

Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall – New York, NY – June 20–22, 2018

Highland Park’s Orkadia public hours:

June 20: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

June 21: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

June 22: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

About Highland Park

Highland Park is a renowned single-malt Scotch whisky from Orkney, a remote set of islands off the far north coast of Scotland. Established in 1798, the distillery combines the highest standards of craftsmanship with the pride and fierce independence of the early Viking settlers who made Orkney their home over 1,000 years ago to create a perfectly balanced single-malt Scotch whisky that stands apart. Highland Park’s range of single-malt whiskies is consistently acclaimed by whisky lovers around the globe, with the brand receiving the accolade of “Best Spirit in the World” from industry expert Paul Pacult on three separate occasions. highlandparkwhisky.com

About Studio Lily Kwong

Lily Kwong is the founder of STUDIO LILY KWONG, a next-generation landscape design firm whose mission is to reconnect people to nature. STUDIO LILY KWONG forges powerful intersections between landscape, art, fashion, wellness and activism. Drawing inspiration from the Land Art and Minimalist movements, Kwong’s radical approach of using plant life as an artistic medium completely reimagines the urban landscape. Kwong earned her degree in urban studies from Columbia University and was recently named by The New York Times as one of the “9 Young New Yorkers Poised for Creative Greatness” and inaugurated into Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Class of 2018” in the Art & Style category. studiolilykwong.com

About Gary Gunn

Gary Gunn is an acclaimed composer and music producer/curator noted for his genre-defying musical aesthetic and forward-thinking application of sound. In 2016, Oprah Winfrey personally selected him for her inaugural Super Soul 100 list, honoring “the world’s biggest trailblazers, innovators and visionaries.” Gunn has collaborated on cutting-edge, interactive (including virtual and augmented reality) installations at TED, SXSW, Smithsonian’s Air & Space, Moogfest and Palais de Tokyo. He has also composed original soundtracks for a host of critically heralded art installations in Paris, Beijing, Moscow, Los Angeles and Jakarta. garygunnmusic.com

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