Blog June 17      A new beginning

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I’m on the ferry back from Inverness, wrapped in woollies and sitting on my dog’s sheepskin. Not a bad commute. We are skimming past the Shiants in the near distance and fulmars are wheeling in the wake.

The election results rolled in last night. I feel a bit sick.

I recently made a pledge to myself and my mentors at Emergents, to keep on making and bear witness to the things I see/feel/hear/understand living out here in the ‘utter isles’. This means more regular writings.

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I live on Uist, one of the Outer Hebridean Islands. I call it ‘living on the edge’, but we are far from left behind. I used to have a ‘proper’ job as a landscape architect and while this background informs my working life, I’m now a vegetable grower, felt maker, cleaner of hen houses, winkle picker, carer and sometimes shearer of sheep. I moved out here six years ago to work for an RSPB crofting project, and stayed on. Two years ago I started experimenting with wool/fleece/ felt. The blog is an extension of my making.

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It’s a beautiful day and I’m happy to be returning to Sprout, my delinquent Springer Spaniel. I’ve sold two pieces of work at the Museum and Art Gallery and one at the show on Uist, but there are things on my mind about sheep.  The work comes from the land and I’m wondering about my incomer values?

For example, dare I speak about no 14, lying dead on the shore at the end of the croft next door? One of several lambs left out for a sky burial. Rocky shores are notoriously hard to dig holes in. Losses are to be expected but  I seem to be the only daily explorer of the shore and I’m trying to better understand the place in which I live. Most makers (and most crofters) care about their raw materials.  I’m saddened if these are unnecessary endings.

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These quiet moments of reflection are precious, before I go back to the day job, growing vegetables for the community (which is far from paradise.) While I love this harsh place, full of challenge, I sometimes wonder why I continue to live here and make things? I think wool is my language. I can speak best in wool.

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