The Kildas will be on exhibit from 19th January to 4 February at the Reid Building Glasgow School of Art . More information HERE
On a modern day pilgrimage in search of ‘Saint’ Kilda, I travelled to the St Kildas of Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. The resulting works reward and celebrate ‘saints’ met along the way. Silver Coins from Scotland, Australia and New Zealand have been repurposed into medals. These are combined with wool from each St Kilda region (from Soay and merino sheep) and Kildas sand embedded in bio resin. The ongoing project links both past and present, north and south and the people who inhabit the Kildas. The exhibition will travel to Comar on the Isle of Mull, Glasgow School of Art and Barony Centre West Kilbride.
The Kildas was part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. The Cultural Programme is a partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life and Creative Scotland
This is a story of an archipelago named for a saint who didn't exist, which became the prison of a woman whose funeral preceded her death, who gave her name to a boat which sank after sailing to a nation that hadn't been born and whose first inhabitants it didn’t acknowledge. A ship of fools, maybe. A ship of storytellers…The islands were named for the non existent saint; the woman for the islands; the boat for the woman, and 2 suburbs in distant parts of the Commonwealth were named for the boat.
These islands, these suburbs, these stories are spun from three of the six St Kildas on earth. Each is a real place of stone and sea, a place where indigenous languages shaped to their landscapes were eroded by a rising tide of English. And each is simultaneously a fabrication: misnamed for something that came before it; a progressively receding echo of an error which carried a myth on currents that bore the Scottish diaspora away from home during the Clearances of the 19th century.
It's made by weavers of textile, song and sound, and the form it takes here tonight is just one of the many forms it's taken over thousands of years. History is an unbroken current of material and energy flows, and in those flows vortices sometimes form and these spinning cycles, these Kildas, these loops in time, have a structure which is complex, ubiquitous, beautiful, temporary and true.
The world spins. We spin. Migrating seabirds like the Arctic tern loop the spinning world. On St Kilda, men with loops or snares caught seabirds on the high cliffs and stacs. Loops of wool made socks and sweaters, with patterns, like tunes, carried from island to island, in Gaelic bho ghlùin gu glùin, from knee to knee. Knitted things pass like stories from person to person, like fishing nets, hand over hand, constantly maintained, mended, adapted - navigational lines linking place to place, and bringing us home again.
The word 'yarn' is connected to the Old Norse garn or gut. There are 74 Gaelic words for yarn and the winding of yarn. Human beings have been spinning yarn from fibre for 20,000 years, spinning yarns from their guts for at least as long, binding meaning into their lives by looping the past into the present, the world within into the world beyond. Wherever we are on earth, there's a St Kilda behind us and a St Kilda ahead; mythical St Kildas we have brought into being collaboratively, through acts of place-making. Stories extend us, they strengthen and connect us; they propel our migrations and loop us back into the places we've left behind'