CADELL: William Grant Foundation Residency, 2019

I was both nervous and excited to visit the Isle of Eigg as it’s not an environment I’ve experienced before – especially the lack of resources and contact with the outside world.

We drove up from London, staying overnight in Glasgow before catching the morning ferry.  Driving from Glasgow to the ferry terminal in Mallaig was an incredible scenic drive, with the sweeping mountains, valleys, waterfalls and coastline relaxing me and easing the nerves.  On the ferry, we were lucky to see orcas and seals coming up close to the boat.  The thick mist over the sea as we approached Eigg made it feel like we were travelling to a medieval time.

On arrival I was met by Bothy host Lucy Conway, who encouraged me to explore the island and make the most of my time here.  My first impression of arriving in the Bothy was -how am I going to live here for two weeks?!  But there was no turning back and after familiarising myself with how the solar panels, fire and water worked I felt much more chilled out.  I actually really enjoyed the therapeutic process of chopping the wood, building the fire up and cooking on it.

Tower Hamlets, where I’m from, is one of the most densely populated London boroughs and there’s always something mad going on, day and night.  I only realised how loud it is where I live on the first day of my stay here.  I was in the Bothy in complete silence with only the occasional sound of passing sheep or the wind.  The silence really allowed me to think deeply about what is important to me in my life as well as providing an opportunity to work on my music without distraction.  Lyrics and song ideas also flowed thick and fast without the interference of everyday life and I left the island with a clear head, ready to make my next steps.

During my visit I attended a ‘session’ – an informal gathering and recital of Gaelic instruments in the Galmisdale Cafe.  It was my first time seeing some of these instruments being played live, up close and in the flesh.  I liked the way most of the music they played wasn’t rehearsed and the way less experienced players could also join in.  These are traits that are also integral to Grime music.  A lot of the musicians had come over especially for this, as well as to teach young islanders.  The passion they all shared for music really shined through.  The session inspired me to incorporate Gaelic instruments into my my music in future, due to their  unique timbre and rhythm.

At times I got fed up being on Eigg with the rain, midges and the lack of shops or things to do, due to the massive contrast with what I’m used to.  It would generally  pass quickly when the sun came out and I could go out and explore.

One thing I noticed that was very different on the island was the community spirit and the way people help each other out.  Although geographically the island is very isolated in terms of separation between residents, it’s a lot less isolated than London in the sense that everyone looks out for each other, which seems almost instinctive to the island residents.  Charlie, the taxi driver, really helped me understand this on our morning drive to the cafe, as well as explaining people’s motivations for moving to Eigg and how the electricity grid works.  I really admired the genuine community spirit, I was made to feel extremely welcome by everyone I met.

Watch Caddell’s  video-diary here.


THIS WAY: William Grant Foundation Residency, 2019

When we applied to Bothy Project we intended to spend our week focused on two main things; to experiment more with how we make maps and to see what happens when you spend a prolonged period of time in one place.  Our usual method of map-making involves a lot of research and planning and sees us visiting a predetermined place once or twice.  We naively imagined that spending a whole week in the Cairngorms would result in some more profound knowledge of the area.  We also imagined returning home with a handful of maps all drastically different to anything we’d ever created before.  If we had set out to achieve just these two things, then we may have left feeling like our experiment had failed.  Yet what we left with – the other random lessons we learnt along the way and the unpredicted maps we decide to make – out-weighed the vague ideas we had set out to achieve.


This Way is a map-making project that we (Emily Macaulay and Felicity Rowley) run in our spare time.  As much as life allows, we head out into the UK countryside to hike footpaths we haven’t hiked before, the best of which become maps and recommendations for others looking to discover the great outdoors.  We are both brilliant at planning, and our maps are often born out of careful research before visiting an area.  For this trip we decided to resist this urge and see what happens if we just discovered things once we were there.  We work apart more than we do together, so a week in each other’s company with no other work planned and only maps to make was a freedom that we’ve never given ourselves before.

We packed our bags and travelled north, meeting at the tiny Inverness Airport, ready for our adventure to begin.  Inshriach Bothy is beautifully designed, it is well positioned in a corner of the Inshriach Estate, and sits on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park.  The Bothy is suitably compact and has everything a human could require for a week in the hills.  It is perfectly proportioned for four adults to sleep at night.  The Cairngorms, in contrast, are vast and wild. Sprawling over many miles, they make up the largest National Park in the United Kingdom.

Our rough intentions had been to map the internal space of the Bothy in detail using our own collected data, before venturing out to discover the National Park. The first part went well; we got our tape measures out and created hand-drawn maps of the internal space.  The problem came when we left the front door to face the vast National Park.  The mountain ranges of the Cairngorms are extensive.  In ‘The Living Mountain’ Nan Shepherd describes them as having an ‘inside’, an interior.  She couldn’t be more right.  No roads pass through the centre of the park, they take you as far as the edges and leave you there.  The mountains create a plateau with deep valleys carved into the hard-to-reach interior.  These valleys can only be accessed by hiking up one of the outer hills, where the visible rounded slopes suddenly give way to unexpected drops.

On our second day we chose to hike around the park’s northern fringes, up a hill that would give us a good vantage point over the main body of mountains.  We’d heard rumours of a pool where fairies wash their clothes, slowly dying the ice-cold waters an incredible shade of deep green.  It’s stories like these that often inspire a map, so we took notes whilst we walked.  Later, as we reached the peak of Meall a’ Bhuachaille and looked over to the Cairngorm range, our naivety became apparent, even with a week to explore our surroundings we would only catch a glimpse of this wild landscape.  Our route to the peak of Meall a’ Bhuachaille passed the Ryvoan Bothy, a mountain shelter, free to use and open to all.  Inside were the traces of years of human visitors, some incredibly useful (jars of peanut butter and sleeping mats) and some not so useful (one smelly sock).  It also contained many maps and handwritten notes from past temporary residents all generously describing the things you might need to survive in this environment – water, wood and other places of shelter.  We decided to extend the map of our Bothy to include what we knew about the Inshriach Estate, mapping our own human needs.

The rest of our time passed quickly.  In between our daily routine of collecting water, lighting the fire and slowing down to cook our meals, we hiked just a small section of the national park, following the river that flows past the Inshriach Bothy up into the valley and eventually to one of the many tiny springs high up in the hills that feeds the River Spey.  We drew maps every day of all the places our feet took us.  Even though we had intended to experiment with how we draw our maps, they frequently retained much of the look and feel of previous work we had made.  It was only by the end of our trip that we realised how much of a shared visual language has developed between us over the last three years.  Whilst trying to make sense of these new surroundings we had quickly and without realising it slipped back into this incredibly valuable shared way of communicating.

Sometimes when out hiking conditions may not be as you expected them, you might find that the path you expected to be there is not, or that the weather changes making it impossible to continue.  Sometimes plans have to change.  So we may not have ticked off the things on our to-do list, drawn up whilst sitting on our sofas pondering over OS maps before we left.  What we did discover was more about how we work together.  It turns out the Cairngorms are genuinely wild and mapping them could exceed a lifetime’s work.  They are like nowhere else we’ve mapped before, we managed to map a few small fragments and we left with an all-too-familiar sense that we now have a long list of places to explore on future visits.

Here are some things we did learn….

  • Spending a week in one place doesn’t result in a full understanding of an area just a better one than spending one day there
  • Maps are a memory and a record of where you travel through
  • Our maps show our shared language of the paths we have travelled
  • River direction is very useful for navigation, try including it on future maps
  • North is useful but not always.  Sometimes you navigate from another significant point
  • Include the things that humans need; water, food and shelter
  • Always stop to talk to anyone willing to share a tale or two (Thank you for stopping to tell us about the Mountain Railway, Graham Smith)
  • Don’t give everything away, give just enough information to entice someone to the top of a hill, but don’t give away all the surprises, those are best discovered alone

Useful Links

This Way
Website – www.this-way.co
Instagram – @follow_this_way_maps
Twitter – @follow_this_way

All photos by Curtis James
Website – www.notkindacool.com
Instagram – @oswald808
Twitter – @oswald808

Illustrations by Joby Barnard
Website – www.jobybarnard.co.uk
Instagram – @jobybarnard
Twitter – @Joby

VICTORIA BEESLEY: William Grant Foundation Residency, 2019

I’m five months pregnant. / I’m sitting in my car in a layby on the A9. / There’s steam coming from the engine. / It’s raining. / Every time another vehicle drives past my car shakes. / I’m waiting for the AA. / This is not how I imagined my week in the wilderness beginning.

The fire is burning. / My dinner is warm. / The compost toilet has been christened. / It’s still here. Quiet. Only the birds to listen to. / Feelings of anxiety at being remote, alone, have subsided. / I’m relieved. Happy. / I’m here.

Aside from the obvious (food, water, shelter, warmth), what are my personal essentials for solitary happiness?

  • Slippers
  • A radio
  • Loo roll
  • Soap
  • Medicine
  • Occasional phone signal for contact with my family
  • An activity: books, crossword, knitting, fetching water, building a fire
  • Kindling (I have learnt that I am not adept with an axe).

Writing in the bothy. / Trying to work a sticky, complex, big idea out of my brain and onto the page. / Like I’m chipping away with a pick axe. / Tap. Tap. Tap. / Where is the drama? Where is the drama? Where is the drama? / Blank page in front of me. Its blankness growing by the hour. How can that be possible? / (We’ve already established I’m not very good with an axe, even if it’s metaphorical).

Take a break. A walk. Get wet in the rain. / The more time I spend here, the more nature sneaks its way into my psyche. / I haven’t seen anyone for four days. It’s just me and trees, wind, birds, the river, bugs, rain. There’s a feeling of being at the mercy of nature more here. Like it could take over me if I stayed long enough. Nature in my everyday life is so controlled, so distant in my mind even when it’s physically near. Here, my only immediate relationship is with nature and I feel simultaneously empowered by it and terrified of it! / And this brings a new idea. / Back sitting in the bothy. Words filling the page. I’m excited. Happy. Relieved. / Nature is driving me on. Sneaking its way onto the page. Becoming a character. Providing the drama. I like this. / The words streaming out of me now. They’re queuing up to be written down. I’m having a lovely time!

All too soon… / I’m sitting in the car. It’s fixed (I hope). I’m about to drive home. / Will I make it home without breaking down? / Will I preserve the peace, tranquillity, space of the bothy… If only in my mind? / Will I miss showering outside? / Will the ideas forged here keep growing? Will the pages keep getting g fuller? / I hope so. / Wish me luck.

ALICE DUNSEATH: William Grant Foundation Residency, 2019

I arrived on Eigg in the afternoon having travelled for close to seventeen hours from my home in south London.  I received a warm welcome from Lucy who drove me in her electric buggy to Sweeny’s Bothy and dropped me off.  It was only after I had unpacked and begun to settle in that I realised it was technically ‘night-time’ but that it was not in the least bit dark outside.

When applying for the residency, I had planned to make work that I could project onto the Bothy or surrounding hills and trees.  On that first evening I stayed up waiting until it got dark so that I could carry out some tests, however, it got to 10.30pm and the sun was still high in the sky.  I waited until midnight, only to discover that it just didn’t get dark.  Darker, yes – but more like dusk, not dark-enough-to-see-the-stars dark.  It was an unexpected experience and something I have never been fortunate enough to witness before, but of course something I should have realised would be the case if you go to Northern Scotland in Midsummer.  Without a ‘night-time’ to draw a clear line between the end of one day and the next, the following morning didn’t really feel like the start of a new day.  In fact, the whole residency felt a bit like one really long, dreamy day.

Sweeney’s Bothy was more remote than I was expecting, but I soon began to feel at home.  It is a space that forces you to go outside and interact with the elements in all weathers with the huge windows and an outside toilet and shower, but it also manages to be cosy and welcoming to come back to.  Having no phone signal or Wi-Fi felt very liberating and allowed inspiration for my work to come from the books inside the Bothy (work by Nan Shepherd, Camille Dressler, Alastair McIntosh and John Chester), the nature outside and from inside my head (minus the usual distractions).  A power cut due to work on the Island’s electricity grid from the first Monday to Wednesday also rendered my laptop, iPad, phone and camera as useless tools to make any work on either – so I was forced to go fully analogue, for a few days at least.

The long sunny days and lack of connection and electricity pushed my work in a new and unexpected direction.  I read, wrote, drew, whittled wood and began experimenting with the few sheets of cyanotype paper I had bought along with me.  Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a blue cyan-blue print and requires only sunlight and water – two things I definitely had access to.  Creating a print felt like a collaboration with the elements and I certainly didn’t have total control over the end result.  Bright sun would cast strong shadows, an overcast sky might not create any, the wind may be calm, or it might blow the objects used to create the imagery around, rain would set the paper before I was ready and salty sea water turns the imagery from blue to red.  It was a satisfying medium to work with to create still imagery but a potentially ridiculous process to try and use to make an animated film.  Animation requires 12 images for every second of film and such a procedure wouldn’t allow you to play back any of the frames you had created until later in the process.

As I began to develop ideas for a film, I wanted to find out everything I could about the island – to meet as many Islanders as possible, to explore the land by foot and to learn about the nature, history and the myths that surround it.  I went on the organised Wildlife Walk and discovered the names of Island plants, went on the Seashore Nature Walk and watched seals and found nests full of eggs, climbed An Sgùrr and the huge hills behind Sweeney’s Bothy, visited the singing sands, swam in the sea, drank in the pub and danced at the 22nd anniversary cèilidh, read the history books, watched the news footage of how the island became community-owned, learned about the geology, visited the museum and interviewed Camille, Lucy, Norah and Celia about their favourite myths about the island.

Fully lost in the world of Eigg, I began storyboarding and creating an animatic that tied together some of the current facts about the island with the myths, the history and the geology.  I wove together stories about the Pictish communities and the Celts, the loch of the Big Women, the transition from a matriarchal  to a patriarchal society, the giant’s footstep, the selkies and Massacre Cave, the renewable energy and the connection to nature.  As I moved on to designing the look of the film, I kept coming back to cyanotype printing process as it felt like the most fitting medium to explore such a theme.

So I left the residency ready to start work on a new film.  Now, back in London, the work I began on Eigg is still keeping me away from my computer and forcing me out into the elements.