Here are a few extracts from notes I made whilst on Shetland. The rest of my writing and some of the watercolours/studies will be gathered together into an exhibition and new book – Shetland Notebooks – to be launched in 2019. Details to follow!
Heathery air. Circle of green on a grey-mauve hill flank. Simple. Lovely. Clouds like so many bird kisses resting on the hill tops. Lime green clumps of clover along the way and pale green breath gathered at the yoke, the node of serpentine shoulders. Sheep mothers pretending to be deer with their shorn coats and brown skins. Climbing over the black rocks to Horse Island my balance improves. I share the air with fulmars and terns, they traverse an airy valley of thermals I cannot see, but sit alongside, in my seat of blasting sun-struck rock.
Clouds like wing of tirrick, white dots on rock tirrick bodies folded for a moment until they rise like tree flowers falling. As if borne by some celestial cord the birds open themselves to the air, and trust. Through a bird’s eye a glimpse of worlds beyond stars.
Wave of sea-goddess hair lifting across rocks with a gasp, a sigh. I walk along the empty beach, sand white and soft; I gather feathers which have grown out of your body, tern-tirrick or shag; a flight feather which pointed east as you stood out there on the black rocks, drying your wings. Sea body broken by tirrick lance, blood red spear on tiny face all focus. My body broken by the driving cut of red words and empty hands, my own unworthiness. My work a migrating bird.
Undressing after Shetland
The night I return from Shetland: when I undress, my clothes smell of birds, the chalky perfume of feathers. I am still there.