Of Land & Story The Process of Forgetting and Remembering

Thursday 30 April 2020

Related artist: Ewan Macpherson

Last year I was invited to take part in an amazing project called Modern Fairies. Along with a hugely inspiring group of writers, musicians and artists we were invited to create works about fairies, myth and folklore.

Initially we spent a few days talking and receiving vast amounts of fascinating information and then in short were asked to choose anything which inspired us from our many discussions or source texts and interpret / regurgitate them for a "modern" audience.

One of the recurring themes which many of us picked up on was the environmental aspect, in my case I was struck by many passages from 'Tibetan Book of the Dead' author W.Y. Evans Wentz's book 'The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries'.

In his book he travels throughout the British Isles seeking evidence and first hand accounts of encounters with fairies and to study the extent of belief.

During his time in Scotland he travelled with Dr Alexander Carmichael to the village of Tomatin (a place very near to where I currently live) to speak to a guy called John Dunbar. Mr Dunbar told of - The Sheep and the Fairy Hunting “I believe people saw fairies, but I think the reason no one sees them now is because every place in this parish where they used to appear has been put into sheep, and deer, and grouse, and shooting.” “A story is told of a fight between the sheep and fairies, or else of the fairies hunting the sheep”.

I had just been reading George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’ which encompasses many facets of the ongoing argument between environmentalists and absentee landowners, government laws and grants relating to land use, livestock etc. I saw a strong and current relation between the documented disappearance of fairies and humankind’s connection to nature and our environment.

As globalisation, consumerism and our disconnect and disrespect for the planet grew, the wild places became fewer and smaller, the fairies disappeared and are now only seldom seen and felt only by those who know where to look. ‘Of Land and Story (The Process of Forgetting and Remembering) is my response, in music along with a collection of video clips I filmed on my phone over the last few years.

The guest musicians are Lauren MacColl - Viola and Barney Morse-Brown - Cello. I play everything else: Guitars, Jaw Harp, Harmonuim, Glitch beats, found sounds.

The spoken samples come from the following sources, I am grateful for permission for their use from:

  • The School of Scottish Studies

  • Dr Martin Shaw

  • Angus MacLean (Reporters - Eric R. Cregeen; Dr Margaret Ann MacKay)

  • Dr Mark Fox

  • Magi McGlyn - Poet, Balquhidder

  • Donald Ross (Reporters - Dr John Maclnnes) William Walker (Reporters - Anne Ross) Ella Walker - (Reporters - Anne Ross)

  • Brian Fraud

  • Jay Griffiths

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