During the lovely summer of 2018 I started to think about Boundaries – that bit of land that marks the division in the land and separates the cultivated from the uncultivated, the tamed from the wild. The more I thought about it other Boundaries occurred to me, the social, culture, gendered boundaries we negotiate in society. I started taking notes and thinking about these themes and possibilities for new work. However a week’s holiday in a well-known and much loved area of Scotland’s North West Highlands opened up another possibility. I have a deep emotional attachment to the area and I thought it was time I explored the themes and ideas.
Traditionally the area has been one of crofting and fishing and at the time when we first visited it was predominantly Gaelic speaking. However since my family started visiting and the roads have improved, it has become a popular place for holidays as it offers peace and wonderful, indeed spectacular, scenery. The village looks out on to the Minch and looking out to sea to the West, the islands of Skye and the Outer Hebrides are clearly visible. My childhood holidays were spent feeding pet lambs, collecting eggs from the hens, collecting and pressing the abundant wild flowers, playing on the beach and running wild. Blissful.
With Boundaries in mind I was observing the area during our trip with a view to incorporating elements into my new work because there the Boundaries really do mark the tamed and untamed. It suddenly occurred to me during one of our walks that the croft markers, the wooden posts that marked the Boundaries between crofts, were still very evident and indeed modern OS maps of the area clearly show these Boundaries. I had my project. As part of my process all my work has some historical element and this is no different. I enjoy the information gathering and feel it informs whatever textile work evolves. The Crofting Act became law in 1886 and I became interested to investigate more about the area historically and the effect of the 1886 Act on the area in terms of the physical markers as well as the population. At a friend’s suggestion I submitted a proposal to Gairloch Museum who had incorporated a gallery in their new building and the exhibition of work opened to the public on 7th March 2020. These images give some idea of the work installed in the Museum Gallery.