Throughout the islands recorded history, superstition was widespread. In the remote Gleann Mor, invalids offered gifts to the spirit residing in Tobair nam Buadh (Well of Virtues) before drinking what was believed the well’s healing waters.
2 years ago while sitting in my living room in Musselburgh - I realised I had developed a wooshing sound in my right ear. Sort of like a rubbish version of the sound of waves. After tests I was told I had tinnitus. My father had it. The slow realisation I will probably never again hear the sound of silence is a depressing one. The Tobair's list of virtues speaks specifically of relief for the deaf. I drink greedily of the delicious nectar, and leave my votive offerings, my gifts. I am still waiting.
An idea of Cargo
An example of island culture technologically affected by 20th Century global conflict were the Melanesia islands of Oceania. Invading powers introduced a range of new and alien technology to these islands - radios, headsets and aeroplanes, parts of the war machine that were removed again during retreat. The Melanesians’ response to this was to create ‘Cargo Cult’ artifacts to be used in religious ceremony to encourage magical replacement of the lost technologies. Charismatic leaders such as John Frum in Vanuatu spearheaded these movements. There is still a February 15 John Frum Day on Vanuatu (which was previously known as the New Hebrides). Perhaps, however, instigating a Red Ruairi Day is going too far >
St Kilda also missed technology of conflict, and in particular communications... feeling increasingly isolated with a new awareness of the wider world and their difficult place within it, they eventually evacuated to the mainland in 1930. Thus ending (at least) 2000 years of independent habitation and culture. Ironically St Kilda is now part of the Benbecula missile range and has full radar tracking facilities.
Art and creativity were present in St Kilda just as in all islands. Music and poetry flourished there before the strict discipline of Free Presbyterianism in the 19th century. The objects here are from an alternate universe - inspired by Melanesia.
An idea of Film Props
Having studied painting and moved into using video I wondered about bringing my old skills such as they are into another medium. Very quickly I realised objects rather than images sit better in a 3D space. Paintings are of course objects too - however thinking of them as secondary items (as props or Cargo Cult inventions) allows me to imagine them in a different way.
An idea of the Primitive
About the time the islanders were being evacuated - artists and writers (eg Picasso, DH Lawrence) started to explore what it meant to know everything about the world in the aftermath of the atrocities of WW1. Worried there will never again be a pristine place on earth to imagine a time before 'civilisation' they looked to the art of Africa and Carribean for inspiration. It is of course a conceit - however I would like to envisage a place such as St Kilda so.