[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_column_text] Along the verge: exploring marginal spaces and their role in linking communities and their ecologies - March 2019 to March 2020 The project was developed collaborating with, at different stages, Rag Tag and Textile, Edinbane Community Company, Radio Skye and Plantlife as well as several specialist groups on Skye. The radio programme Along the verge can be heard here The verge accompanies us along our travels through the landscape, often unnoticed and undervalued. It is a remnant of the commons, land which we used to walk and work as a fundamental part of our lives. Recently the verge has become a place of refuge for previously common plants, described by Richard Mabey as Britain’s largest unofficial nature reserve. It is also somewhere where we are creative; with structures such as honesty boxes, homemade signs, inventive expressions of political views and with guerrilla planting. There is a constant duality with this Cinderella space1; it is both an ignored range of habitats where nature can flourish as well as a highly controlled area of managed landscape. This liminal space is both an edge, a boundary, often contested, as well as a link, connecting plants, habitats and people. ‘Along the verge’ was a year long project running from April 2019 until April 2020 on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Beginning with a series of walks, then into making and sharing sessions and finally into a mapping phase the project explored the verge, it’s plants, it’s cultural connections and it’s metaphorical echoes in wider society. Each stage involved people in different ways and through close noticing, sharing facts and stories, collaborative working and making together we developed conversations around and evolving from the verge. With close observation of our local verges we become more aware of shifting baselines2 around us. We become more mindful of our deeply entangled and interdependent relationships with the natural world. The verge provides us with a cultivated wild on our doorsteps, as ‘the wilderness is everywhere….but at the same time.. the whole world now is cultivated’3. The verge is a chameleon, a place of possibilities it is both/and. 1 Cinderella space - word coined by one of the participants in relation to the verge 2 shifting baseline - scientific observation of the loss and reduction of species over time, our baselines, our normal is different from that of our parents 3 ‘The cultivated wilderness or what is landscape?’ by Paul Shepheard   The verge                                               the verge is -                                                                       a cinderella space                                                                       the virtual fabric of the community                                                                      Britain’s largest unofficial nature reserve                                      the verge marks -                                                                      the edge of freedom                                                                      the agreed symbolic consensus of the edge                                                                      cultural fragments of past landscapes                                   the verge allows -                                                                      the wild and the controlled                                                                      space for expansion                                                                      a change of viewpoint Poem by Caroline Dear using phrases from the project [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text 0=""] VERGE: WALK Throughout the year the project ran a series of verge walks both with individuals and with a variety of local interest groups, ranging from the Skye Cycle Group to Edinbane mothers and toddlers. With close observation through hand lenses, noticing and naming plants, sharing stories about them and about the places we were in, we allowed conversations to develop specific to that day, that location and the people present. Conversations were sparked by the particular, flowed to the universal and then back to the particular. Stimulated by the fragility and tenacity of plants, the ‘wow’ and wonder of nature and the layered stories behind plant names we found moments of being together, ’spots of time’ as Wordsworth expressed it. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_empty_space height="50px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_single_image image="4480" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_empty_space 0=""][vc_column_text 0=""] One verge walk conversation   on skye chatting to my neighbour about growing food fifty years ago climate change peat formation evidenced on Skye 1815 year of no summer collapse of the roman empire 5 years of no crops 4 horsemen of the apocalypse saxons, angles as refugees squatters in roman villas 1385 black death skills loss evidenced in cathedrals contemporary refugees aware of our own precarity we are not growing enough on skye [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text 0=""] Some quotes from participants - ‘Walking round the verge with you has really opened my eyes to what is there. Since then I have been looking at things more closely’ ‘It’s a bit of a forgotten space that gets trodden on or passed  by without much thought. A ‘Cinderella’ space?’ ‘it is so good to be given permission to have this time to look and be - it is so unusual to get this in our lives’ ‘It was really good to enjoy the being here, the looking rather than the outcome, normally you are heading to a place, or trying to do a thing when outside but it was refreshing to be outside without an agenda’ [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4483" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4484" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_column_text] VERGE: conversations [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][vc_column_text] VERGE: MAKE Along the verge worked with two separate groups over a series of months, encouraging collaborative working and developing participant agency. One group was a charity helping people with mental health difficulties and the other was self selecting based around the location. The two groups worked in parallel creating two collaborative weavings and a series of texts, poems and anecdotes around the verge. Our conversations explored different views around the subject of the verge as we worked with our hands, making rope from grasses and plants gathered from local verges. These ropes were woven into the weaving which marks, metaphorically, and as a physical object, our interconnectedness and interdependence with each other and with the natural world upon which we depend. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4479" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] Some quotes from participants - ‘This is so wonderful - it is so rich it feels like I am plaiting the verge’ ‘it is so exiting seeing us all do the work together and create something out of this time together, it seems as if it comes out of nothing - we really all did work together’ ‘it is very inspiring, you feel like you are doing nothing, but it is really useful, just allowing people to be and to talk, I have learnt from you how good this is’ ‘it’s made me think more about the words we use and the deeper meanings behind them’ [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4477" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] VERGE: hands make [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="50px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_column_text 0=""] VERGE: MAP The mapping phase consisted of selecting and distilling the multiple strands of the project into a series of accessible ‘maps’; a zine publication, an exhibition and a radio programme. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4478" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] The zine, VERGE:notes was published in an edition of 50 with a copy given to all involved. It combines images, poetry and text to illustrate overlapping of ideas around the confluence of the verge. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_empty_space height="40px"][vc_column_text] The exhibition, ‘Along the verge’, planned for April 2020, now postponed til September, consists of the collaborative weavings and rope, written texts, embroidered linen, photographs, packets of local verge seeds and some handling samples. The weavings are framed with a backing of Scottish linen dyed with indigo. Linen was selected as it used to be grown and processed locally and indigo was chosen because this is how the local landowner made his money, and is the reason the village, where we were meeting and working exists. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="4486" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text 0=""] The radio programme, ‘Along the verge’, has also been delayed and will be broadcast on Radio Skye. The programme links the voices of different peoples’ experiences along the verge; from Meg Bateman reading her poem ‘The Year’s Flowers’ about noticing the year through observing the flowers change along the verge, to hearing about using the verge as close focus to recover from an accident, to understanding the concept and building of a ‘blessings box’ placed on the verge anonymously for people to use without judgement, a food bank without eyes. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] Sample quotes from participants: ‘being part of this project is doing me a power of good, it has made me realise that I can try other workshops and creative things so I want to say thank you’ ‘enjoy the journey, it is all about the journey’ ‘I am enjoying my verge so much’ VERGE: zine [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="150px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][vc_single_image image="4488" img_size="full" alignment="center" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space height="150px"][vc_single_image image="4555" img_size="full" alignment="right" qode_css_animation=""][vc_empty_space height="200px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column 0=""][/vc_column][/vc_row]...

Landline // Five walks in Skye 5 - 9th September 2016 Commission by ATLAS Arts to devise a series of walks on Skye This project was commissioned by ATLAS Arts to develop and expand my connections with other professionals from different disciplines and to deepen my engagement with people and the land through a series of walks based on Skye. This series of five walks took place over a week with each focusing on a particular aspect of that place and with an invited guest. I used five common plants from this landscape to act as hinges to link us with the land and to start the conversation for that place and topic. Invited co-collaborators were: James Merryweather, Maoilios Caimbeul, Jen Hadfield, Dòmhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart and Tim Ingold. ATLAS Blog Quotes from participants - ‘I get the sense of the landscape holding you’ ‘enjoying the sense of getting lost in the scale’ ‘this is bringing back memories of my childhood; hairy caterpillars, red berries and ferns - the particular colours and smells’ ‘I feel we have deconstructed the surface and filled in above and below, which is great’ ‘this has been brainfood for me, this is my artistic, cultural nourishment and I will go home to digest this’ ‘each day has been like a pebble of experience and I am going home with a pocket full of pebbles to examine and enjoy.’ ‘we revisited the place in the afternoon in order to be there again and explore it further and enjoy the mysteriousness of it’ ‘I really liked that each day was so different and it allowed each person to engage at a deeper level according to their particular interests’       PLANT LINE - MONDAY Plant - Downy Birch / Beith Charraigeach / Betula pubescens Guest - James Merryweather - Biologist We explored what you see and what you don’t within the birch dominated woodland of Coille Gaireallach. Starting from the rock beneath we got an understanding of the interlinked networking within the soil and fungi below and the plants and fungi above the ground surface. Through observing closely these interconnected and interactive relationships we can better understand this woodland landscape and our place within it. Plant list   Quote for the day ‘The oldest living organisms in the world are probably the subterranean mycorrhiza of ancient forest fungi. They’ve been there since the woods sprang up, tens of thousands of years ago, and live in an intimate partnership with the tree roots, without which neither could survive. . . . . But I think of George Orwell’s words: ‘ if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought’. And worry about the subliminal effects of defining plants as a biological proletariat, working solely for the benefit of our species, without granting them any a priori importance…. Most of my personal encounters with plants have confirmed this conviction that plants have agendas of their own’ ‘The Cabaret of Plants - Botany and the imagination’ by Richard Mabey     LINEAGE - TUESDAY Plant - Soft rush / Luachair Bhog / Juncus effusus Guest - Maoilios Caimbeul - Gaelic poet, writer This walk explored the crofting township of Dunans. We thought about changes through time of crofting practices highlighted from a personal perspective through referencing Maoilios’s croft and hearing recordings of people who used to work this land. We looked at the deeper past referencing the ancient stories associated with Loch Shianta and Flodigarry Island and reflect on the physical aspects of a landscape which encourages certain tales. Maoilios read his poems about this place, and we thought about a poetic expression of landscape and a continuing engagement with the land. Poems - M Caimbeul  Lineage walk info   Quote for the day ‘When I was a boy I roamed all over our neighbouring township of Plocaig, which was even then down to its last two inhabitants and was shortly to be abandoned. Often on these expeditions I was accompanied by my grandfather, who had a name for every least hillock, every creek and gully. It was by his side that I first became aware, albeit dimly, how such knowledge set one apart. It was not simply that it gave him material advantage over me, though it did, but that it invested him with a form of spiritual privilege (and, of course, with the comcomitant responsibility). He lived in a different landscape from me, seeing it in a different way and - I came to feel - being seen differently by it. He was accepted, or rejected as the case might be, where I was merely and constantly tolerated. He moved through the mansion of his world as a blood relative where I was but a paying guest.’ ‘Night falls on Ardnamurchan - The twilight of a crofting family' by A Maclean     HEART LINE - WEDNESDAY Plant - Sphagnum / Còinneach / Sphagnum spp. Guest - Jen Hadfield - Poet, writer This walk explored the bog land around Sligachan. We gained an intimate knowledge of this particular habitat, examining minutely these interesting plants. With the Cuillin on the horizon, an ancient magma core of a volcano, we thought about scale and time within a landscape. Looking closely, noticing the subtle changes of texture and temperature we explored how we, as humans physically interact with the land and experience our place within the landscape. Jen Hadfield reads one of her poems in the Sligachan bog Poem - Jen Hadfield   Quote for the day ‘As an enthusiastic young PhD, colonised by the arrogance of science, I had been fooling myself that I was the only teacher. The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness. Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart. My job was just to lead them into the presence and ready them to hear.’ ‘Braiding sweetgrass - Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teaching of plants' by Robin Wall Kimmerer     BOUNDARY LINE - THURSDAY Plant - Bracken / Raineach / Pteridium acquilinum Guest - Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart - Àrd-Òraidiche / Stiùiriche Cùrsa MSc Cultar Dùthchasach agus Eachdraidh na Gàidhealtachd Senior Lecturer / Course Leader MSc Material Culture and Gàidhealtachd History Starting at Isleornsay we explored the crofting township of Camuscross and beyond. Using historical archive material we examined the way land is owned, mapped and controlled and how this is visible in the landscape. We examined the way crofting has developed through time, comparing contemporary land use with past and reflecting on future uses, all with reference to this crofting township. The Improving View   Quote for the day 'The SNH map is objective analysis and entirely based on the interpretation of satellite geographic data. Of course in reality no definitive ‘boundaries’ exist between ‘core wild areas’ and the remaining landscape. However, my interest lies in investigating the ‘borders’ and ‘overlap’ of these spaces, in particular the reactions and perceptions of those people who live locally or have occasion to visit the ‘core’ locations for pleasure and recreation.' Murray Robertson Mapping Scotia / Wild Boundaries Artist in residence at SMO 2015 referencing the 2013 map produced by SNH entitled ‘The Core Areas of Wild Land’.     CONTOUR LINE - FRIDAY Plant - Heather / Fraoch / Calluna vulgaris Guest - Dr Tim Ingold - Chair of Social Anthropology University of Aberdeen This walk followed a section of Thomas Telford’s road, built in the early 1800’s between Portree and Broadford. Following the gentle line of this track between Luib and Strollamus we explored the experience of movement and walking through a landscape. This route goes into the red Cuillin hills and also links North and South Skye visually, giving an interesting perspective on this area and the Island. The walk balanced this specific place and day with wider and deeper questions about how we experience the landscape and how we understand the relationship between the ground and the sky. Tim Ingold's questions   Quote for the day ‘In The Return of the Native all regular ‘haunters’ of Egdon Heath are expert path-finders. In the dark on incipient paths, the secret ‘lay in the development of the sense of touch in the feet, which comes with years of night rambling in little-trodden spots. To a walker practised in such places a difference between impact on maiden herbage, and on the crippled stalks of a slight footway, is perceptible through the thickest boot or shoe.’ ‘Doubling back - ten paths trodden in memory’ by Linda Cracknell Landline // Five Walks in Skye - some extra info Atlas Flickr page: images of the Landline // Five Walks in Skye     Two poems written in response to the day with Jen Hadfield, which was spent in the bog at Sligachan. The first is a joint poem which arose as Jen and I spoke.   read the bog a page each day   like the book of Kells   Bog black, deep as time in the beginning was the bog hear my voice millennia pass climates shift and still I grow and flow hear my voice I hold the place I expand the present I indulge the moment hear my voice my veiled layers a deep intertwining of vibrant life hear my voice lichens in battle sphagna in conference grasses in collusion hear my voice I am the skin I am the bone I am history understand my gifts I welcome your offerings   ...

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