shetland odyssey

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Marcus, Stuart & Evgeny on the ferry to Yell

the kirk in the rain...

and in the sun

Claire enjoys the view from the South Light

rocks near the South Light


Odyssey Blog

Marcus Barcham-Stevens

What will always stick in my mind from my time in the Shetlands is the warmth and generosity of the people, especially my hosts on Fair Isle, Robert and Fiona. Their hospitality and friendliness (and indeed that of everyone I met on the island) seemed endless, which is very welcome if you are stranded on the island for days because of foggy weather. Fair Isle represents in microcosm an ideal of how mankind should live : there is no crime, no police even, everyone leaves their houses and cars unlocked - they are an interdependent community in which everyone contributes and is dependent on each other to survive. Living like this is like returning to a lifestyle which is simple and wholesome, real and earthy, intimately bound up with nature and unaffected by the ills of modern society. And the experience of nature was both raw and beautiful - from the rocks beyond the South Lighthouse disappearing into the sea which stretched to the Orkneys, to the wild and rugged nature of the walk between the North Lighthouse and beacon - one of my windiest experiences ever! Or from the bleak stark beauty of the undulating peat landscape of Yell and Unst, to the ferry crossing late at night between the Mainland and Unst, in which the boat carved through black forbidding waters and faint columns of the Northern Lights punctuated the dark brooding sky.

Individual memories also stand out : the beautiful singing of Lise Sinclair in her own song "Cutting Corn "; the children at Lise and Ian's house running around excitedly and streaking their faces with war-cream; playing the organ in the Methodist Chapel with Evgeny's long sonorous phrases on the horn in Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus; being taught a whole new vocabulary from peerie, dram through to neestering (a creaking sound which we used to imitate the sound of the boat in the Betty Mouat tale) and new
pronunciation of words I already know.

Above all I remember the children and how brilliant they are: in Fair Isle, the choreography of "Splice the main brace" involving the hauling up of sheets and the fixing of eyes; in Yell, the energy of rapping about Circe "In the land of Aeaea, there lived a witch whom many fear"; in Unst, the excitement and enthusiasm of the children, especially primary school, during the workshops, the talent of the composers and recording engineers during the recording of music for their Odyssey DVD, and the inspiration and positive energy of the music teachers.

The whole experience was wonderful and invigorating, and one which I will always carry around in my head, especially in those difficult environments which seem to have forgotten what is most important in life.

rehearsing with Lise Sinclair, Fair Isle 25.03.06

Helen and Stuart at Baltasound, Unst 30.03.06

Claire's Blog (the project in chronological order):
24 March 2006 - Friday, Fair Isle
25 March 2006 - Saturday, Fair Isle
26 March 2006 - Sunday, Fair Isle
27-28 March 2006 - Monday-Tuesday, Fair Isle
29 March 2006 - Wednesday, Yell
30 March 2006 - Thursday, Unst

Blog archive, preparing the project:
3 March 2006
February 2006