Inspired by Islay

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Over the past wee while, I’ve been working with Kate Davies and her team on their latest venture: Inspired by Islay. A quick scroll through old posts on this blog will show lots of content from Islay; I lived and worked there for a year in 2012-2013. My job involved Gaelic cultural-heritage with particular projects I initiated being about the connection between the landscape and language. It is on this topic that Kate asked me to contribute an essay to the book being produced as part of the project (sidenote: the book has gone to the printers!).

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Kate’s work has long impressed me, and I’m chuffed that she has come to me to contribute small bits of work to other projects over the years, where she has wanted to use Gaelic. Gaelic aside, as a knitter  and general culture/history-enthusiast I’m always impressed by the thought and consideration that goes into all she (and the wider KDD team) does and produces. Other folk contributing to Inspired by Islay include really astonishing artists, craftspeopleavian experts and photographers, so it is an honour to be included alongside them.

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Anyway, the photos here are some snaps from my archive of pictures from Islay. My time on the island wasn’t always a song and a dance so it’s been really lovely revisiting parts of the island I fell for, and exploring further the rich Gàidhealach culture I am part of.

For all of Kate’s blog posts to date on the project see here.
In other news, I started a facebook page for my work. Like, share, comment, etc.

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Cianalas

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Being back in the city grind and with a few weeks of no escape, I can’t help but think of the landscape and open stretches of the Highlands and Islands. The word cianalas about sums up how I’m feeling at the moment. A combination of homesickness, melancholy, and general longing for a place or, as in my case just now, places and culture. Day-to-day life in Edinburgh doesn’t afford me the opportunity to be as immediately absorbed in Gaelic culture and heritage as I was in the islands so I need to be making more of an effort. It seems fitting that on a dreich day in the city the only word that sums up how I’m feeling is a Gaelic one.

Cianalas – kʲiənəLəs – ke-en-alas.

Photos from misc. places in Uist, about this time last year.

Elsewhere, mostly unrelated:

Edinburgh Yarn Festival is coming up; I’m really looking forward to it.
The Danish Diaspora exhibition in Haddington looks very much worth a visit (Nikolai and Beka Globe’s Mission House Studio in Harris is wonderful).
Ernest journal is a relatively new find for me but I’m enjoying it very much.

Heartening

Two things today.

Firstly: Living alone in what is still a new place, surrounded by beautiful scenery but few very close friends, it is easy to feel isolated. During times of heightened stress and tension this is exacerbated further. When a loved one has been visiting and departs the same day various stresses hit crisis-point then, well, that’s not a good combination at all. It has not been an easy short while. Just as well then that I am so fortunate as to have people in my life, albeit at a great distance, who through small gestures help ease the worries, whether they realise it or not.

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Coming home to this book in the post, a gift promoted by an earlier blog post, was an unexpected treat and just at the right time. And now I’ve no excuse not to up my tree-knowledge.

Secondly: reading through the transcript of Fiona Hyslop’s keynote speech,Past, Present & Future: Culture & Heritage in an Independent Scotland” at the Talbot Rich gallery in Edinburgh was incredibly heartening. I am neither party-political nor decided upon how I’ll vote in the independence referendum next year. Hyslop’s speech, however, I found to be an honest, positive and, ultimately exciting account of the role culture and heritage plays in Scotland just now. The prospects for the future is anyone’s guess but being employed in the cultural-heritage field I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the statements made. Not often I agree so wholeheartedly with a politician!

…the culture and heritage sectors make an invaluable contribution to our economic life, but despite these challenging times, we do not measure the worth of culture and heritage solely in pounds and pence – we value culture and heritage precisely because they are so much more, because they are our heart, our soul, our essence.