Leugh mi tòrr, èisteachd mi gu RnG, beagan Ball-cois’ cuideachd, Bhuainnich United! Bha Clèadail socair ‘s ciùin’, ghabh mi fois, lorg mi anail fhìn, ‘b e ùine sonraichte a bh’ ann. Rinn mi obair, chuir mi peant sìos air, tharraing mi dhealbhan agus cuir mi beachd ‘s smaoin air mo dhòigh phearsanta. Bha gaol mòr air an stobh orm, an sgeileid iarann cuideachd, gu-àraidh leis a marag dhùbh, uigheann, cofaidh agus adag. Bha am fras a-muigh rudeigin speisealta cuideachd. Taing mhòr gu Eddie agus Lucy, am Buth ionadail ann an Galmasdail cuideachd, cheannaich mi a h-uile rud an sin. Uaireannan tha e riatanach a bhith ann an àite diofrachte ach eòlaiche ann an dòigh, ‘s e sàr àite a th’ ann.
Eòghann Mac Colla Am Faoilleach 2020
I had visited Eigg previously only for a very short stay to deliver a visual art workshop in the school a number of years ago. The island has also been on the horizon many times before though, on family holidays in Arisaig and as the visual art in residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Having the chance to explore and be on Eigg itself was a really exciting prospect. I use my visual art practice to support people and affect positive change in their lives and wellbeing, so a time away altogether from that and all my usual daily routine was hugely welcome. I arrived off the ferry via Glasgow taking a bicycle on the train. Lucy was able to help collect my groceries, pre-ordered from the Eigg Store, fantastic service and great produce. The change of pace, no street-lights, except the ones in Mallaig across the Sound of Sleat, the milky way and shooting stars all instantly helped me to slow down and get into island time. Minimal broadband and phone signal makes the days last forever, even going to bed early. A big shout out to Eddie for his fresh herbs too. I enjoyed a couple of visits to the Eigg pub and café, interesting to catch the local chat and meet visitors from other parts of Europe. Sorry I missed the local Beer, will need to go back for that and when is the distillery opening? The bicycle was useful as it let me move about quicker and was a real benefit to my stay, once I got my head round the braes! Sustainability is big in my home life and Eigg was a nice progression of that.
The bothy itself it a true masterpiece. I loved the stove, the outdoor shower, the views, an altogether fabulous location to think and be. Walks on Laig beach, an Sgorr, Camas Sgiotaig, Clèadail, up to Bidean nan Tighearna, Sgorr an Fhàraidh and right along the ridge behind the bothy down to Talm were just incredible, especially as I was so lucky with clear, crisp dry days…
Being aware of the Sweeney tale also had a resonance for me. I visited Ailsa Craig in memory of him once and it was good to reacquaint with him in Eigg. The cultural links across the Sruth na Maoille are strong yet I loved looking at the thousands of years of cultivation and habitation of Cleadale from on high, the marks and lines in the land. This will all feed into new works, some of which I started in the bothy. I was determined to ‘make’ when I was resident on Eigg. I think it is fascinating to think about how we look at landscape and environment and how we ‘divide’ it, physically and emotionally. The notions of how we view our land, Romantic sunsets and empty glens, empty landscapes and isolation all come in different forms in the same way as collective positivity and inclusion can heal divide, building the better society some of us all desperately want to see. We are just here on the edge of Europe in some senses but at the heart in others. Gaels in the lowlands, highlanders from elsewhere, we are part of a mix that has always moved, ebbed and flowed.
I made great use of the bothy library, especially Camille Dressler’s book, ‘Eigg’ and Alistair Mackintosh’s ‘Soil and Soul’ which I had read previously. The paragraph on the ownership of Eigg being a timely reminder of the horrors of absentee privileged capitalist exploitation of our land and environment. Nowhere more so than Eigg, thankfully a legacy that is resigned to history. Authenticity and respect for those before us and for those who come after us is everything and we are nothing without that.
Eòghann MacColl January 2020
- Sweeney's Bothy