Tag: St Kilda

Cleit with Gannet

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)

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

The Vernal Equinox

Twilight in March in the north Atlantic, a beautiful transition lasting over two hours. The Vernal Equinox approaches and beyond lies lingering days of sunlight amplified by the sound of hundreds of thousands of kittiwake, fulmar and gannet. In this large watercolour the sun and moon are shown in diametric opposition over a strangely haunted seascape.


Stormwater in glass vessel, with Soay wool sleeve and wooden plinth.

Stormwater (2015)

This small installation took many weeks of preparation. A glass vessel holds water from the Mersey collected during the Spring storms of 2015. The anger within is then cosseted in genuine Soay sheep yarn beautifully crocheted by Jean Emerson, and the whole bonded with a ruble and sealed by 1792 Liverpool conder token.

Stormwater is an atavistic piece which attempts to constrain something of the wildness that sculpts St Kilda still. I owe much to inspiration from Steve Dilworth here.

Glass, seawater, wood, wax and Soay wool (30x15x15cm)

The Gannet

The Laridae are a competitive family, clever, superior in demeanor – often menacing. The cackling call of gulls is a distinctive and familiar part of our landscape. In our maritime cities they nest in the masonry cliff faces and compete garrulously for food.

In the northern oceans their distant relations, the Gannets, live on towering sea stacs in their thousands, painting the rock white with their faeces and fearlessly plunging into the sea like bronze spears. The Sulidae are clumsier on land but graceful in flight. They shun human company and prefer their own company, shaking their heads in disapproval of intruders.

Painting of a Northern Gannet

The Gannet (2015)

The Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) or ‘Solan Goose’ is pictured here in full flight off the stacs of St Kilda, Scotland. This is a search for the essence of this Royal bird. Its proportions almost cruciform in construct, its shape simply dissolving into the sea and sky…

Acrylic on Canvas (40x60cm)


St Kilda is essentially manifested in Stone, Sea and Sky, the purest extension of which I seek to convey in Granite, Seawater and Air.

Mixed media sculpture titled Hirta


Glass, Stone, Seawater, 33x23x13cm (2015)  ENQUIRE

Hirta, the principal island of the St Kilda archipelago is here distilled into a perfect trinity of a block of granite, surmounted by a flask of prepared seawater nestled by the air within a fisherman’s float.