Heriot Toun in summer

7 Short Sails

The starting point: one sailing boat, seven short voyages on the west coast of Scotland and seven participating artists all of whom live and work in countries bordering northern seas. 

The whispers began with a series of short voyages on the west coast of Scotland aboard a Loch Fyne Skiff sailing boat. No itinery, no set plan, except to explore that intriguing coastline, looking at the landscape and culture, scooping up moments and fragments to pass onto other hands for assimilation and interpretation.

This raw material was passed on to seven artists in the form of sketches, stories, paintings, photographs or conversations - with the request to respond in whatever way they chose. Those responses in turn were passed onto another seven artists and so on, for a total of seven phases.

On completion of the project, the cultural similarities and parallels between artists living at northern latitudes - ways of living and seeing influenced by climate, daylight, geology and tradition - are discussed by Professor Peter Davidson from the University of Aberdeen and Margaret Bennett, folklorist, who generously gave us an epilogue in the form of an essay and a song.

A total 56 artists participated in the project and here are the results.

Shown at: StAnza St. Andrews 2010, UHI St. Magnus Conference, Orkney, 2011

In 2013, I was honoured and delighted to have the project included in Peter Davidson's book Distance and Memory. The essay is called Northern Waters and is in the Spring section of the book : you can find the book here


Artists Involved

Colin Andrews, Reinhard Behrens, Margaret Bennett, Anne Bevan, Hilmar Bjarnson, Annlaug Borsheim, Tim Chalk, Norman Chalmers, Peter Davidson, Kate Downie, Kim Edgar, Jerker Fahlstrom, Carina Fihn, Alison Flett, Mattie Foulds, Fribo, Magi Gibson, Neil Gillespie, John Glenday, Martin Green, Su Grierson, Birta Gudjonsdottir, Jen Hadfield, Jim Hamlyn, Karen Havskov Jensen, Rachel Hazell, Maria Heed, Rádhildur Ingadóttir, Louice Lusby Taylor, Robert Macfarlane, Andrew Mackenzie, Alyth McCormack, Evie Milo, Mikko Paakkola, Music Students from the University of Newcastle, Andrew Parkinson, Pathhead Music Collective, Alex Patience, Alistair Peebles, Roxanne Permar, Karine Polwart, Sarah Roberts, Ragna Robertsdottir, Borre Skodvin, Gerry Smith, Hjorleifur Stefansson, Ben Stephen, Ian Stephen, Pive Toivonon, Jane Watt, Charlotte Watters, Klavs Weiss

7 Short Sails

Traditional Icelandic song, artist unknown


Links to all the sails:

Sail 01 >
Ian Stephen (Scotland), Charlotte Watters (Scotland), Martin Green (Scotland), Alex Patience (Scotland), PathheadMusicCollective (Scotland), Birta Gudjonsdottir (Iceland), Anne Bevan (Orkney)

Sail 02 >
Carina Fihn [Sweden], Mikko Paakkola (Finland), Jim Hamlyn (Scotland), Mattie Foulds (Canada), Jane Watt (England), Magi Gibson (Scotland), Fribo (Norway, England, Scotland)

Sail 03 >
Ragna Robertsdottir (Iceland), Norman Chalmers (Scotland), Reinhard Behrens (Germany), Annlaug Borsheim (Norway), Kate Downie (Scotland), Ben Stephen (Scotland), Roxane Permar (Shetland)

Sail 04 >
Karine Polwart (Scotland), Su Grierson (Scotland), Jerker Fahlstrom (Sweden), Sarah Roberts (England), Evie Milo (Scotland), Maria Heed (Sweden), Hilmar Bjarnason (Iceland)

Sail 05 >
Rachel Hazell (Scotland), Alistair Peebles (Orkney), Music Students (Uni of Newcastle), Alison Flett (Scotland), Borre Skodvin (Norway), Gerry Smith (Scotland), Pive Toivonon (Finland)

Sail 06 >
Louice Lusby Taylor (Sweden), Hjorleifur Stefansson (Iceland), Andrew Parkinson (Orkney), Tim Chalk (Scotland), John Glenday (Scotland), Kim Edgar (Scotland), Andrew Mackenzie (Scotland)

Sail 07 >
Colin Andrews (Ireland), Neil Gillespie (Scotland), Robert Macfarlane (England), Rádhildur Ingadóttir (Iceland), Alyth McCormack (Scotland), K Weiss & K H Jensen (Denmark), Jen Hadfield (Shetland)

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