Sea Change

A four-year programme of research and making across Scotland’s western and northern isles.


Cape Farewell’s Sea Change (Tionndadh na Mara in Gaelic) was a four-year programme of research and making across Scotland’s western and northern isles. The project began with a gathering of 50 artists and scientists from across the UK at Cove Park in 2010. In 2011, 30 UK and international artists and scientists sailed on Marine Conservation research vessel Song of the Whale from Mull and the Small Isles, Skye and the Inner and Outer Hebrides to St Kilda, Lewis, Rona and the Shiants. In 2013, a second expedition took place to Orkney and Shetland. Artists and scientists worked collaboratively and independently to consider the relationships between people, place and resources in the context of climate change. The artists worked with local communities and scientists across the islands and on the mainland, to produce workshops, work-in-progress presentations and exhibitions of new work across all art forms.

The project aimed to encourage knowledge exchange, celebrating grassroots and national initiatives which combine local knowledge and resources with advanced technologies and pioneering research into social and ecological resilience. These include community land ownership schemes, sustainability and heritage projects, and renewable energy, adaptation and coastal management programmes, some developed in partnership with island cultural organisations. The project also aimed to extend the languages, metaphors and methodologies of participating artists, enabling them to find new and affective forms for the stories and experiences of island communities.

Sea Change was part of Creative Futures, a Creative Scotland talent development programme which aims to promote the professional development, capabilities, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations.

Fair Isle: More Than Just a Cliff Edge. Featuring Inge Thomson

In May 2014 award winning composer Inge Thomson took her band back home to Fair Isle for the premiere of her project Da Fishing Hands. This project, a collaboration with Inge’s late cousin, the poet and musician Lise Sinclair, was inspired by the Fair Islanders’ enduring campaign to gain Marine Protected Area status for the waters around their small island. Filmmakers Andy Crabb and Peter Cutts travelled with Inge and her fellow musicians, and other artists brought together by Cape Farewell and Ruth Little to document the performance and to listen to the voices of the Island residents. This film is the result of that journey. Thanks to Cape Farewell and Ruth Little for making it happen.

Sea Change was a Cape Farewell project, part of the London 2012 Festival and the Year of Creative Scotland. It was supported by Creative ScotlandArts Council EnglandCompton Foundation, Cove Park and The Bromley Trust.

Calendar of events
Explore the artist diaries
Who was involved?

See Also

Working the Map – islanders and a changing environment book cover

Working the Map

Beautiful artists’ book by John Cumming documenting social and ecological change across Scotland’s Northern Isles. Available for £9.99
vast green costal landscape

2011 Expedition

A month-long expedition by boat across the Western Isles of Scotland from Oban to Lewis
sunlight on rocky outcrop

2013 Expedition

Our second Sea Change expedition, exploring Scotland’s Northern Islands

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