A cleit is a small stone chambers unique to St Kilda. There are around 1,200 on Hirta, more on the surrounding islands and stacs, and whilst there have been many fanciful ideas regarding their original purpose cleit are known to be to simple dry stone structures which the islanders used as storage for foodstuffs such as guga (gannet) meat. In saying that they are enigmatic and lonely structures and undoubtedly a desperate place to spend a night in, should one be lost on Conachair in winter.

Cleit with Gannet
Cleit with Gannet

In this work from 2015 I wanted to reveal the cleit as a dwelling place, but not for humans. It is filled with light from the countless birds who have been laid to rest there and the soul of a solitary gannet flies visible overhead.

Acrylic on canvas 51x62cm (2015)

Buy now on Saatchi Art

This painting featured in the exhibition Edge of the Known World at Corke Gallery in 2015.