Bird Yarns Photo Diary

Artist Diaries. 21 June 2012

 

 

Mull Harbour

Deirdre Nelson

Woolly Wednesdays Knitters, An Tobar

Arctic tern from Cape Breton

Tobermory Terns

 

Bird Yarns Launch Event, An Tobar

Gordon Maclean

 

Rody Gorman, Kenny Taylor

 

 

Oliver Rowe

Betty and the terns

Gaelic songs with pupils of Tobermory High School

The Bird Yarns Team: Libby Straughan, Mario Pires Cordeiro, Dawn Reade, Deirdre Nelson, Oliver Rowe, Mary Jane Lamond, Ruth Little, Kenny Taylor, Jo Royle, Sion Parkinson (and Rody Gorman)

21 June 2012

The days are long, bright and cool on Tobermory: only 4 hours of darkness between last gull and first dove call. Down in the harbour boats swing on the wind; clouds sit over Ardnamurchan and Morven across the Sound of Mull. On the fisherman’s pier a heap of creels is stacked by a tangle of rope among buoys and floats. Above them, in huddled twos and threes, eighty Arctic terns perch on lines slung between two lamp-posts.

Eighty Arctic terns. Beady-eyed and still, with their red beaks and feet bright against a bank of white cloud. Strange beaks, strange feet: some crocheted from nylon twine found on Mull’s beaches; some snipped from red plastic flotsam or aluminium cans. Button, pin, and black glass eyes, and knitted bodies of thick, cream and peaty wool from Ardalanish farm. Black-capped terns built to spend most of their lives on the wing, flying every year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again, stopping off to feed and breed, to drop like stones on sand eels from the cliffs of the Orkney and Shetland islands. But these birds on Mull, beautiful eccentric wooly sentinels, hand-made by knitters from Scotland, England, Ireland, Nova Scotia and the US, have blown in on the winds of change, and have a story to tell.

Across the world, bird migration patterns are shifting and populations crashing as warming oceans propel marine food sources such as plankton and sand eels into new territory. Migrating birds like the arctic tern, which travels further in a year than any other bird or animal on earth, may arrive at the breeding grounds they return to year after year in the course of their long lives (up to 30 years), and find them empty of food. Their offspring hatch, and starve. Commercial fishing plays a part; competition for limited resources is intense. What welcome do starving birds receive on the cliffs and coasts beneath their ancient flight paths?

A heartfelt one, if the Bird Yarns project is anything to go by. Hatched by artist Deidre Nelson, the project invited Tobermory’s Woolly Wednesdays knitting group at An Tobar to make Arctic terns from a pattern created by Deirdre, using local wool from Ardalanish farm, and recycled materials. Knitters of all ages joined in, and word soon spread via Facebook and Twitter to neighbouring islands and the mainland and beyond: ‘lost’ Arctic terns would find a warm welcome in Tobermory.

So here they are, delivered by hand, by post and by boat, five of them carried from Cape Breton by Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond, to meet their peers on the pier and be strung up on a wild wet day, facing the painted houses of Tobermory and an uncertain future. For now, though, they’re safe, they’ve dried out in the mid-week sun, and they’re attracting the attention of tourists, sailors and fishers, who come to photograph them beneath swerving gulls, and put on the knitted headphones at the listening post to hear Scottish wildlife expert Gordon Buchanan describe their extraordinary annual migratory feats and their vulnerability to human impacts on land, sky and sea.

On Thursday at An Tobar they’ll be greeted by song, sound, tasty treats and tern tales, beginning with a Gaelic song workshop by Mary Jane Lamond. From the late 1700s to the 1830s thousands of Gaelic-speaking people from the Highlands and Islands sailed to Eastern Nova Scotia.  They settled in kinship groups and brought with them music, song and stories which are still heard today. Scotland’s islands are processes – defined by the movement of wind and water, people, wildlife and stories. Tonight we launch Bird Yarns with Black Isle writer, broadcaster and bird man Kenny Taylor, artist Deirdre Nelson, poet Rody Gorman, songs by Mary Jane Lamond and food by chef Oliver Rowe…The birds are getting restless…It’s time to take flight.

 

 

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Comments

  1. deirdre nelson says:

    beautiful words Ruth and a big thanks to all who took part .

    Deirdre

  2. [...] ages ago I got all excited about a knitting project with an ecological edge to it called Bird Yarns? Well approximately 90 knitted terns including my Jack and Victor fly into Glasgow to roost in the [...]

RSS feed for comments on this post. / TrackBack URI

Add a Comment

Grounded. Judith Parrott

An exhibition of new work on language and land for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014

Seagreen. Photo by Judith Parrott

Grounded is an exhibition of photographic prints, audiovisual, sound and prose, resulting from residencies with Wangkangurru, Arrarnta and Arrernte people of the Central Australian Desert, and with Gaelic speaking communities of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Judith Parrott’s diaries will be uploaded here, in response to her experiences at the two locations. The exhibition will... Read More ›

Andy Crabb’s short film Sea Changes Part 1 documents the Orkney Expedition

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 18.55.32

Sea Changes, part 1 featuring Karine Polwart from Andy Crabb on Vimeo. Filmmaker and SAMS artist-in-residence Andy Crabb joined Cape Farewell’s Northern Isles expedition in August/September and reflects here on the first days of sailing in Orkney waters. Sea Changes is the first part of a film about Cape Farewell’s Northern Isles expedition, on board... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/ Tìr mo Rùin – Kacper Kowalski shortlisted for Sony World Photography Awards

Artist Diary 1 November - Kacper Kowalksi. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

Kacper5

Congratulations to aerial photographer Kacper Kowalski, who took to the skies of Lewis to photograph the peatlands for his Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin commission. Kacper has been nominated for the Sony World Photography Awards 2014: : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-25983313 Those magnificent men in their flying machines Some people call him an aerial photographer. We call him a crazy... Read More ›

Sea Change at the Botanics

Exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 8 November 2013 - 26 January 2014

Botanics2

Sea Change at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh brings together the work of 28 artists/makers who have sailed with us on the 2011 and 2013 expeditions and undertaken residencies on Mull, Canna, Barra, North Uist, St Kilda, Lewis, Orkney and Shetland. The exhibition includes Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin (Highland Print Studio/Cape Farewell).   Sea Change... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 18 October - Jon Macleod. Territory – Dùthaich

Pentland Road shieling

I have started writing this moor blog whilst on a residency in St.Kilda. It seems that both these places have become defined by the notion of remoteness and as such are comparable. Also the language, culture and archaeology of both are largely shared. To fully experience both St. Kilda and the Moor it is necessary... Read More ›

Karine Polwart sings Freedom Come All Ye in Orkney’s Italian Chapel

Jen Wilcox and Karine Polwart, Orkney

http://vimeo.com/73406037   Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 25 July - Murray Robertson. Off the Pentland Road

Pentland burn

The Pentland Road traverses Lewis running east to west, from Stornoway to Carloway, and neatly bisects the core of the peatlands allowing access to one of the most unique natural environments in Northern Europe. From the road the moorland looks rugged, wild and impenetrable. The leviathan blanket bog that covers most of Northern Lewis breathes... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 4 August - Alex Boyd. The Emerging Island

The Peat Road, on the way to the Shieling village of Cuidhsiadar

As the ferry made its slow and stately progress across the expanse of The Minch, and the great peaks of Skye’s mountains gradually settled towards the horizon, I couldn’t help but stand transfixed at the view which stretched before me. The Outer Hebrides is somewhere which until this week I had never experienced, save through... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 3 August - Anne Campbell. Moorland diary

Campbell8

March. NB 2976 3817. A pool where two streams emerge from beneath the peat – the source of the water which flows to Loch na Mòineach, which in turn feeds Feadan Loch na Mòineach, which joins Feadan Loch an Fhraoich and Feadan Loch nam Breac to form Gleann Thorradail, one of the tributaries of Gleann... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Pàipear-taighe - Deirdre Nelson

small-things

See more of Deirdre’s work at http://cargocollective.com/dstitch twitter.com/dstitch 6 October: Pàipear-taighe I have been gathering imagery of all the small things from the moor and on my last visit to Lewis I visited Alison Macleod in her studio.   She is a textile designer/artist from The Isle of Lewis whose designs are inspired by her... Read More ›

Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin

Artist Diary 24 July - Fabric Lenny Sketchbook

Moorland Discussion - Procreate

Follow Fabric Lenny’s Peatland blog: http://fabriclenny.blogspot.co.uk/ 24 July: iPad to Press – Photo Polymer Photogravure After having had a few days to reflect on my time in Scotland as part of the Sexy Peat project, I can now reveal that it was a truly amazing experience. The two weeks on Lewis exploring the Peatlands and... Read More ›

Sea Change in Green World

Arts & Ecology Issue, edited by James Brady: http://www.greenworld.org.uk/

Tobermory

  See the article by Ruth Little on the Sea Change programme, along with pieces by Clive Adams, Dave Pritchard, Peter Gingold and Wallace Heim, and Jai Redman: www.greenworld.org.uk   Read More ›

The Swan Northern Isles Expedition

See the 2013 Expedition site

Swan1

In August 2013, Sea Change set sail with two crews of artists and scientists from Orkney to Shetland via Fair Isle. Sailing on 113-year-old community owned Shetland Fyfie The Swan, the journey took us around Scotland’s most northerly coasts and islands. Click here for Expedition site >   Read More ›

Sexy Peat / Tìr mo Rùin at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Highland Print Studio, Cape Farewell: Year of Natural Scotland 2013.

Sexy Peat

Following the success of Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin as part of Sea Change at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, the exhibition transfers to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery in March-April 2014, before returning to its island of origin at An Lanntair, Lewis. Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin artists: Anne Campbell: http://www.annecampbellart.co.uk/ Jon Macleod: http://www.jonmacleod.com/ Kacper Kowalski:... Read More ›

Things Unspoken / Things Unseen. Andrea Roe, Anne Bevan

Book launch 20 August 2013 at Pier Arts Centre, Orkney

Anne Bevan Ammonia Beccarii giclee print from CT scan with Dr Ian Butler & Michael Wolchover 2012

Things Unspoken Things Unseen by Anne Bevan and Andrea Roe 2 volume artist book Things Unspoken Things Unseen, by Anne Bevan and Andrea Roe, was launched with Cape Farewell’s 2013 Swan expedition at the Pier Arts Centre in August 2013.  Including contributions by Janice Galloway, Jen Hadfield, Kathleen Jamie, Robert Alan Jamieson and Alan Spence,... Read More ›

Air falbh leis na h-eòin – Away with the Birds

Hanna Tuulikki's Complete Audio Diary

Compass Hill, Canna. Photo by Hanna Tuulikki

28 June 2013 Listen here to an extract from Hanna’s diary: Voices at Dusk   29 May 2013 Listen here to an extract from Hanna’s diary: Tracing Lines 19 April 2013 The creation of Air falbh leis na h-eòin: Hanna on tumblr 14 January 2013 Listen here to an extract from Hanna’s diary: Meeting Mary... Read More ›

Dùthchas na Mara – Belonging to the Sea

Downloadable publication by Iain MacKinnon, Ruth Brennan, Stephen Hurrel

6b1.Cpprtp_&_creel_6183_crop

  New research on island fishermens’ relationship to the sea suggests cultural roots to Sound Of Barra dispute A new book investigating the cultural background to the ongoing maritime conflict in the Sound of Barra in the Western Isles is being published this week. The book, called Dùthchas na Mara/Dúchas na Mara/Belonging to the Sea,... Read More ›

Mapping the Sea: Barra. Stephen Hurrel

Publication and Installation

Two Screen image of Calum A' Chal and Lighthouse Lens

    Mapping the Sea: Barra  is a video installation by artist Stephen Hurrel that draws on local knowledge of uncharted coastal and maritime topography around Barra. This audio-video installation is a response to the collecting stage of a collaborative project with social ecologists Ruth Brennan (SAMS) and Iain MacKinnon (Scottish Crofting Federation), and Barra fishermen. A three... Read More ›

Às an Traigh – From the Shore. Mary Smith, Mary Jane Lamond, Julie Fowlis, Andy Mackinnon

St Kilda film project

Village Bay, St Kilda

  An interweaving of Gaelic songs, stories, memories and reflections on relationships between people and place on St Kilda, compiled by three acclaimed Gaelic singers, and drawing on the Tobar an Dualchais archive of oral recordings. A collaboration with Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, Lochmaddy, North Uist, and filmmaker Andy Mackinnon. Mary Smith is... Read More ›