Sweeney’s Bothy: Introduction

Sweeney's Bothy mid-build, December 2013, photograph BN / Welcome to Bothan Shuibhne (Sweeney’s Bothy). The project is a collaboration between The Bothy Project (Bobby Niven and Iain Macleod), and artist-poet Alec Finlay. We are also working closely with Alex Webb Allen and Luke Allan, as well as a host of contributors. / Together we are going to design and construct a modest zero-carbon dwelling, a bothy, on the Isle of Eigg, off the West coast of Scotland. Once it is complete, towards the end of the summer, Bothan Shuibhne will host creative residencies, with a focus on wilderness ecology. / Over the course of 2013 a host of collaborators will add to the project, and each of them will publish a post on this blog. / Before we finalize the plans for the building – and before we start ordering materials and taking the handles of the wheelbarrow in our hands – we will share some reflections on what such a bothy might be, or become, drawing on hut traditions, the thoughts of fellow poets, artists, and architects, as well as the words and images of residents at the first bothy that Bobby and Iain completed, at Inshriach, in the Cairngorms. / / Simple dwellings enact a vision; they may, over time, gather a significance that extends beyond their walls. Bothan Shuibhne is one suggestion of what a hut-bothy-residency can be, in Scotland, today. / / The original sketch that I submitted to Creative Scotland, to encapsulate the proposal, is nothing more than a rubber stamp defining a walled form, with a suggestion of surrounding thorns. The bothy begins as a frame in and for the wilderness, as every hut is. The sketch catches the gist of Sweeney’s bed in the thorn trees. / Over the past few months Iain and I have worked from that initial poetic image:

Some Huts

Waiting for Spring, Carl Erik Strom, 1970 / / what is a hut? / a hut is four thin walls nailed around a stove / / a hut is set in the fret of green woods / / a cabin is spied on the wild-hills- ///ide / / a hut is a shed & a bed / / a hut is a few planks nailed to some peeling doors kept out the back in some folks' ///gardens / / a hut is make-do-&-mend – it grows in an organic fashion as a collage of accretion ///& borrowing / / a hut is a second home which there is no shame ///to own / / a hut is centred on square windows each of which is taken care of by a spider & cobweb / / a hut is a sounding- board for rain which will do you no harm if you remember to spoon out the guttering / / a hut is an ante-garden / / a hut is framed wilderness / / a hut is tree high dissension / / in Norway it seems each field is anchored by a hut / / in Scotland where we are so proud of our welcome huts have regrettably ///not been … / /Carbeth, Gerry Loose & Morven Gregor poem-label AF, photograph Morven Gregor, 2011 / / Carbeth / ‘A place of solitude set among trees. Things come to rest here.’ / ///– Gerry Loose / / just a wee felt-roofed hut, a shame to stay inside but there is rain / wisps of white smoke rise straightforwardly from the chimley, yaffles try to laugh their way in / there's lovage and angelica too strong tasting for deer or rabbits / last year’s tansy buttons that fashion this spring’s brown / Dumgoyach seems a few steps away but I'll just sit on this handy log drinking smoky tea and wait a while for the windfalls / / composed after a visit to Gerry & Morven, for the road north; Gerry & Morven are contributing their own post on hut culture and wild food, to be published shortly on Bothan Shuibhne. Carbeth: www.carbeth.blogspot.co.uk. the road northwww.the-road-north.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/10-carbeth.html / / Prospect Cottage, courtesy of Ron Strutt / / Prospect Cottage / Jarman’s neat hut on the borderless shingle jut of Dungeness / in the shadow of the power station in the knowledge of death Derek began to garden / each summer that passes teaches which flora will endure biting northerlies / sea kale & sea thistle horned poppy, night- shade & valerian / lavender & santolina nodding their colours amid the salt- tangle of wire, rust bloom & flint / Derek is gone his garden is growing / / hut of shadows, Chris Drury, 1997 / / hut of shadows / in the hut of shadows one whitewashed wall reveals the slow flicker of the sea’s everyday beauty / the construction enacts a great leap back, circling through 6,000 years of human consciousness / we enter a darkness that we recognize from the chamber at Bharpa Langais / / this poem was also composed, with Ken Cockburn, after a visit to North Uist, for the road north. Bharpa Langais is a Neolithic chambered cairn, similar inside to Drury’s construction. http://the-road-north.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/49-eiheiji.html

wild shelter

Kevin Langan will build a wild shelter at Jupiter Artland on Sunday 16 June; Alec Finlay and The Bothy Project will be there to discuss the Sweeney's Bothy project.