Tag Archives: Singing Sands Eigg

50 Paintings of Eigg Series 40 and 41

Eigg Series No. 41. Ink, acrylic and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 41. Ink, acrylic and sand on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series No. 40. Acrylic and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 40. Acrylic and sand on 5×5″ wood

P1110495 P1110496Today’s paintings; A wave at Singing Sands Bay and the mountains of Rum from Laig Bay.

 

If you like the idea of a mid-summer music festival on Eigg you’ll probably be interested in the Howlin Fling Festival, organised by  Lost Map Records (a music label and collective organised by Johnny Lynch, former FENCE collective manager and organisor of the Pictish Trail).

I didn’t realise that Lost Map Records was actually based on Eigg. They’ve organised many events and gigs around the UK, but Howlin Fling is Lost Map’s debut festival on Eigg.

The festival runs over the weekend of 18th to 20th July. Performers include Beth Orton, also Steve Mason (who used to be in the Beta Band). I’ve seen both live and would love to attend this but sadly it clashes with my exhibition. Live music with the backdrop of the mountains of Rum and west coast sunsets sounds blissful – I’m not a fan of huge crowds, small outdoor festivals are far more relaxed – a million miles away from the epic, mud-drenched nightmare of events like Glastonbury!

There’s more info about times/tickets in The List Here

And here are a few videos..

 

50 Paintings of Eigg No.s 38 and 39

Eigg Series No. 38. Acrylic on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series No. 38. Acrylic on 5×5″ wood

Eigg Series No. 39. Ink and acrylic on 5x5"wood

Eigg Series No. 39. Ink and acrylic on 5×5″wood

P1110486 P1110484Today’s paintings; waves in Singing Sands Bay. Showing contrast between ink and acrylic

 

 

(I’m happy to announce that as of today my blog is working again! )

As mentioned a while ago, I contacted Camille Dressler, Eigg’s local historian, to ask a few questions about the island’s history. Camille runs two projects on the island; a small museum which focuses on the island’s geology and involves local schools in history projects, and a Croft in the Cleadale Valley which she’s restored exactly as it would have been 100 years ago…pres.camille_portrait

Rose: Firstly Camille, many thanks for agreeing to answer some questions about Eigg’s history. Can you tell me how you came to live on Eigg and also, was it your first move from France?

Camille: I was living in France studying English, and my boyfriend’s mother found us this place on Eigg for a winter let so we came to spend the winter here to study, write and paint!

R: Can you tell me  what you do now on Eigg?

C: As well as running the museum and croft I’m studying energy arts, such as qi gong and dao yin yoga, also writing and making arty crafty things…

R: So, going back to Eigg’s early history, is there any evidence of pre-historic settlers on Eigg, such as archaeological remains or evidence of how the earliest settlers might have lived?

C: There is evidence that the first people of Scotland – people of the Mesolithic, i.e. 8000 years ago – were on Eigg as well as Rum where they collected flint-like bloodstone. They seemed to have been camping by the shore and spending much time making bloodstone tools, as a lot of their discarded tiny flint shards have been found when gardens have been dug close to the shore….

R: And what would you say are the most significant changes they would have experienced over the centuries – such as different houses or ways of finding food?

C: Probably the introduction of cultivation was the most significant change for these hunter gatherers, then the way they bury their dead in stone costs in the middle of the land, indicating that it was important to have the blessing of the ancestors for its continuing fertility…

R: Can you tell me about life for Eigg’s inhabitants in the Middle Ages – how were communities organised and what kind of hierarchical systems existed then?

C: They’d have been part of the clan system, a tacksman holding the land from the clan chief to whom he was more or less distantly related, and a lot of ordinary clansmen tilling the land in exchange of military service…. land being used to grow oats and raise cattle mostly, it’s a system that was basically unchanged until the end of the clan system in the 18th century…

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© Katie Maclean (from Eigg Historical Archives)

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© Chrisie Oliver (from Eigg Historical Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

R: Scotland went through many changes from the 15th to 18th centuries. Can you tell me about the most significant changes for these communities over that time? For example the Clearances?

C: Well, after Culloden, there was massive emigration to the New World, Crofting put an end to that by attaching people to the land by forcing them into wage labour to supplement what they could grow. And then, when the kelp boom subsided that had employed people for 30 to 40 years, folks were then being sent overseas to make room for sheep, which were more profitable for the landlord.

R: Are there any individual stories you know of from the time of the Clearances, for example how might individual lives have been affected?

C: The impact could be devastating. One woman was so upset after having to leave Grulin and seeing most of her neighbours have to leave the island that she threw herself from the cliffs near her new home into the sea and drowned.

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© Katie Maclean (From Eigg Historical Archives)

R: How far did the population numbers of the island change due to the devastation of the clearances? And when did the island begin to recover again?

C: It went from almost 500 in the late 18th century to 60 in the 1960’s. It’s been increasing since then and is now at around 95 people

R: When I was on Eigg it was highly recommended I visit Croft No. 6, I discovered it in the late evening and it made quite an impression; it was rather haunting – as if the inhabitants had just left, or were about to return. It beautifully captures the life of an Eigg dweller in the last century. Can you tell me about the inspiration for the project?

 

 

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Croft 6

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Croft 6

We just wanted to ensure people could compare the way of life then with the way they live now. The way we set up the museum was largely inspired by the Spinster house museum I visited in a visit to Finland, where the islanders there decided to keep the spinster house just as it was after the last spinster -and spinner of flax- died. We wanted people to feel that experience of coming into an islander’s home, and discover the objects therein for themselves, rather than setting it up as a museum where everything is labelled and out of bounds.
 

 

 

 

 

R: That’s exactly how I experienced it; quite fascinating and refreshingly unlabeled so visitors can explore in their own way! Lastly, what projects are you working on now, and can you tell us where we can find more information about them?

C: We are about to start on phase 2 of the croft museum, involving renovation of the cart shed and the henhouse, one of which will be thatched. I’m also involved in research into how we can become part of the international beach art project which seeks to raise awareness of the extent of plastic pollution in the marine environment…

R: Many thanks Camille for introducing us to Eigg’s history. There’s a lot that canbe explored so if you’d like to read more, Camille has written a book called Eigg: The Story of an Island which you can read about or buy Here

mjwWFHLRITMZnDKInctwzYwAlso, for more information on the Clearances and their impact, some more information Here

 

50 Paintings of Eigg Series. No 7

Eigg Series. No 8. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5x5" wood

Eigg Series. No 7. Acrylic, ink, salt and sand on 5×5″ wood

P1100378Today’s painting; a view through sandstone rocks at the Singing Sands Bay on the island’s west coast. It’s interesting how the natural frame of sandstone enhances the sense of distance and lends an exotic air to the view beyond. I was attempting a more close-up sense of weather, if that makes sense (there’s also a sprinkling of singing sand on the painting!)

A bird catching its dinner…

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Lastly my  (amateur!) video of Laig Bay and the cliffs of Cleadale behind..

50 Paintings of Eigg Series: No 2

 

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink and varnish on 5x5 inch wood

Eigg Series No. 2. Acrylic, ink, sand and varnish on 5×5 inch wood. (Sold)

Detail

Detail

A slightly more playful version of waves in Laig Bay today. What I like about painting on wood is the layering and texture it allows, so there are various layers here, built up and scraped back, then some varnish and fine-grained sand from Laig Bay for texture. I think I’m also beginning to capture something of my emotional response to Laig Bay.

This was another somewhat rainy day, bad for tourists but good for painting! It all adds to atmosphere and these lovely miniature waterfalls on the rocks..

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We began to explore The Singing Sands Bay (Camus Sgiotaig in Gaelic – if there are any Gaelic speakers here, do feel free to offer any translations in comments below). Thus named for its fine quartz sands which sing when dry, but as it was rainy they were subdued (and I’m told it’s more akin to squeaking than singing!). More fascinating were the mysteriously sculpted rocks and small caves which served as shelter from the rain

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These sandstone rocks are the oldest on Eigg, about 200 million years old. They were inter cut with lava flows and intrusions which baked and hardened the sandstone, making it almost indestructible. The lava has crumbled and the sandstone remains – sculpted by lava and waves over millions of years.

These were also a mystery..

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Map showing Laig Bay and Singing Sands Bay

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In the next few days I’ll be heading inland to the landscape and people of Cleadale (behind Laig Bay and the Singing Sands) with its beautifully ominous cliffs of ancient crumbling lava.