JAMES N. HUTCHINSON: Collective & Outset Scotland, 2016

Sidhe Vicious. Had the first two photos in this blog entry been taken using a 35mm camera, I would likely be fretting about having them developed, such that they may reveal a dreadful ghostly apparition. They are pictures of burns at Bealach Clithe (above) and Cathalaidh na Marbh (below), along the stretch of road between the primary school and Cleadale, places where, in Eigg folklore, lone travellers – as I was when I took these photographs – may encounter the grimmest of all Sidhe. Appearing in the form of a little old lady, this particular Sidhe would be washing the shroud of the traveller who encountered her, in preparation for his immanent death. She is one of many Sidhe who shared the island with their human counterparts, but is the only one so specifically described. The Sidhe were believed to have been thrown out of heaven at the same time as Lucifer, but not deemed bad enough to be sent to hell. Instead, they were despatched to an intermediate world parallel to that occupied by humans, living in a state of perpetual in-between-ness. The islanders claimed that the Sidhe would occasionally intrude on human affairs to negative effect, primarily at times of transition such as beltaine, or during the birth of a child (a baby born disabled was said to have been swapped with a Sidhe, the ‘perfect’ version existing in the parallel Sidhe world).

YELENA MOSKOVICH: Shakespeare & Co. Residency, 2016

I spent one week at Sweeney’s Bothy on the Isle of Eigg working on my second novel, current working title: Virtuoso. In my writing I like to work in multiple spaces simultaneously without pre-defining how these locations, situations, or circumstances inform the characters or their growth. This process requires a particular type of concentrate, to be able to conceive, hold, and cross-section all the activity concurrently.

JULIE LAING: Self-Directed Residency, 2016

Being in The Dark. I’m writing a novel set at night. I’m at Sweeney’s Bothy, run by Lucy Conway, to observe my reaction to being alone in the dark. As part of my research I’m studying the phenomenon of urban light pollution. I’ve brought with me a sodium streetlight. This distinctive orange is being replaced by white LEDs and will soon be a thing of the past. I’m interested in how it’s experienced in unexpected contexts and will be switching it on in Eigg.

LORNA MACINTYRE: Self-Directed Residency, 2015

A dream of red squirrels. I am a red squirrel./ Lunar eclipse/Supermoon/Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point/ Islay Whisky/ Reading Margaret Tait in the sunshine on the deck to the sound of birds/ Vegetables, fruit, porridge, coffee and eggs, vegetables, fruit, porridge, coffee and eggs/ Exhilarated, a scramble up a waterfall and onto the ridge of Beinn Bhuidhe/ Le Rayon Vert/ Cleo from 5 to 7/ Big Women/ Mixing ‘chance and choice somewhat scandalously’/ Looking for the pillow stone/ Oatcakes and island views at the top of the Sgurr with a sailor and a collie/ Mushrooms growing in a cowpat/ Sun rises over ridge at 11am, moon rises over ridge at 11pm./ Sun sets over sea 8pm/ Looking for the green ray.

GRAHAM NIVEN & AMY FERGUSON: Self-Directed Residency, 2015

Bluebells and Bracken.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Saturated light-after-the-rain floods the bothy, washed clean, separate and perfectly reordered. Waterfall driven upwards, spraying the stillness of the stony cliff-face, ruptured by The Finger of God in some exultant acknowledgement of the pivotal power of the skies.

RYAN MILLER: Self-Directed Residency, 2014

Valley of the cliffs.  “I don’t want to know what time it is. I don’t want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

The Inventiveness of Procrastination.  A computer malfunction means that all my thoughts, those that I recorded at the time, are lost. Now I have the memory of those records of my thoughts. And photographs and drawings of course. Here I will note them down for you:

Outward. My departure from the city is honoured by the appearance of deer playing in the Clyde estuary; a stag, hidden in the woods; waterfalls; gorges. I’m still on the train. I didn’t have time for breakfast or to withdraw cash. Not enough signal to use the wireless card machine on the snack trolley. Reading about post-war art movements, my stomach complains: ZERO ZERO ZERO.

The boat (after some soup). Heinz Mack’s theories of constant motion are further undermined. Cloudy arrival. Eddie in a Land Rover, first sight of the bothy over the ferns.

So, after the initial excitement of arriving, solo: no dog, no child, I sit at the window, drawing feverishly, like I have to prove the value of solitude. I forgot my ruler, I search the bothy for edges: a knife, a spatula, a trivet. The drawings are not very good.

I leave my work out in the rain. Morning. The colours do not wash off.

Clouds lift. Sunshine. A visit to the singing sands, cow sentries along the cliff top. Rock forms and waterfalls, the sands stay silent.

So, I plough into my books, which I should have already read, and the text I should have already written. I distract myself by finding more edges to draw.

The inventiveness of procrastination sees me dancing to the sunset. Light shows to rival the largest stadiums. Beams strobing across the sea.

I rarely photograph sunsets.

Third day in, I only leave the cabin to relieve myself, I am trying to write.

Next day, I walk on the beach, discover skeletons and re-write everything, scrawling in a notebook, whilst perched uncomfortably on a boulder.

It does not look like Scotland in September.

I walk an hour and a half to find internet and send the writing away. An hour and a half to return to my solitude.

The following days, I carve up the map of the island, selecting one area to explore. I collect the same objects that all visitors collect, shells, sea-worn rocks, bones and plants.

As the sun sets, the lamp gives me a fixed shadow to work by. I draw around the outlines of my collection, cheating, repeating, shading, making it up.

Denied access to Massacre Cave, I meet a family who have just moved to Eigg, they take me to Cathedral Cave, switching prospective fear for awe. As I attempt to return, I lose the path momentarily and discover a massacre. A lamb. I collect the bones, some weathered, some pink.

There are no batteries in my camera.

I make a new friend. And break a couple of rules.

SHIREEN TAYLOR: Self-Directed Residency, 2015

The Inventiveness of Procrastination.  A computer malfunction means that all my thoughts, those that I recorded at the time, are lost. Now I have the memory of those records of my thoughts. And photographs and drawings of course. Here I will note them down for you: