Timespan's Artist in Residence programme is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Eurpoean Community Highland Leader 2007-2013 Programme

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Badbae: How many people can you cram into a 4m x 2.5m house?

I'm working from my home in East Lothian this week, but still thinking about the life of the crofters. One thing that's really struck me is how whole families could live together in such a small space!

I went to visit Badbae, where, in 1793, around 80 people belonging to 12 families were sent after being evicted from Langwell, Ousdale and Berriedale.

'The twelve families were moved to the sloping cliffs of Badbea, where they were forced to create makeshift houses and a new community from scratch. Badbea lay between a great stone wall, designed to protect the landowner's flocks of sheep, and the edge of dangerous cliffs above Berriedale. The Clearances, one of the most cruel and hotly debated periods in the history of the Highlands, were happening.' (Badbea website)

I've been looking at the census from 1841 to try and work out who lived with whom. Having seen the ruins and realised that they are only around 4 metres by 2.5 metres, I can only begin to imagine the squash!

This must have been an extremely close-knit community. I like that expression 'close-knit'. It seems to describe the situation well. Might call my exhibition and publication that. Hmmm.

Anyway, if you are interested, here are my findings:

Age (youngest first) and houses of people living at Badbea, according to the census of 1841 as documented on the Badbea families website:

Family house 1

Jean Sutherland: 20, John Sutherland: 25, Betty Sutherland: 25, Esther Gunn (nee Sutherland): 45, Charlotte Sutherland: 51, Margaret Polson: 60 (Total 6)

Family house 2

Catherine Erving: 12 (the only person there from England), George Sutherland: 18, James Sutherland: 20, Rose Cormack: 20, Catherine Gunn: 29 (or 30?), Christian Sutherland: 51 (or 45?) (was married to George Gunn), John Gunn: 55 (or 50?) (fisherman and widower), Jean Sutherland: 60, Donald Christian Bruce: 60, Christian Bruce: 60 (nee McLeod) (Total 10. Odd mix of names though?)

Family house 3

John Gunn: 10 (?), Margaret McPherson: 12 (visiting?), David Gunn: 13 (?), Jean (Jane) Gunn (nee Polson): 40 (wife of George), George Gunn: 40 (fisherman), David Sutherland: 70 (Total 6)

Family house 4:

George Gunn: 1, Mary Gunn: 2, David Gunn: 4, Jane Gunn: 6, Christina Sutherland: 8, John Gunn: 8, Christian Gunn: 14 (servant to her brother John!?), Catherine Sutherland: 20 (niece), John Gunn: 30 (shoemaker), Catherine Sutherland: 35 (married to John Gunn), John Sutherland: 45, Elizabeth (Betty) Sutherland: 50 (John’s sister) (Total 12. Odd mix of names. Perhaps 2 houses?)

Family house 5

David Sutherland: 2, Alexander Sutherland: 4, John Sutherland: 7, Isabella Sutherland: 9, Catherine Sutherland: 10, David Sutherland: 30 (farmer), Johanna Sutherland (nee Sutherland): 30 (Total 7)

Family house 6

Ann Grant: 2, John Grant: 4, Betty Grant: 8, Gordon Grant 35, Georgina Grant (nee Gunn): 35, Elizabeth Grant 40 (Gordon’s sister?) (Total 6)

Family house 7

Ann Henderson: 2, Barbara Henderson: 5, William Henderson: 9, Katherine Henderson: 15, Anne Henderson: 40, Robert Henderson 45 (Total 6)

More houses

Margaret Gunn: 10, Christian Mcleod: 10, Christian Bannerman: 10 (born outside the area), William Gunn: 12, Ann Duncan: 12, Betty Gunn: 15, Janet McIver: 15, Robert Matheson: 15, George Duncan: 16, John Grant: 17, William Duncan: 18, Alexander Gunn: 20, Betty Duncan: 20, Donald Matheson: 20, William McKay: 20, George Gunn: 25, Charlotte Sutherland: 29, Mary McIver: 40, Hugh Matheson: 40, David McIver: 50 (Total 20. 3 or 4 houses perhaps?)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Customs House and Heathcote Bed & Breakfast

Well, tonight is my last night staying at Customs House B&B, and a fine week it's been with abundant breakfasts and an extremely kind and considerate owner. Above is the stunning view from my room, a constant source of entertainment. Thanks for your hospitality Anne!

Thanks too to Janice, who put me up in Heathcote last week. She makes the best scrambled eggs and ensured that there was a constant supply of home grown lettuce and strawberries in my room. Another wonderful and generous woman!

Everyone here, in fact, is so friendly and helpful. When you live in, or near, a city you get used to only saying hello to people once you get a certain distance away from a road, on a beach say, or up a mountain. The whole of Helmsdale is a 'hello zone' I have noticed. How refreshing.

One for Colin Usher

I took this photo for my husband, Colin Usher, a highly talented digital media chap, who is slaving away in his Bluemungus office in Leith, while I swan off to do some knitting, read stories about bygone crofting days and wonder the hills 'documenting' ruins.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Walking in Wester Helmsdale and Gartymore

Went for a lovely stroll with Aileen Stackhouse yesterday. We dondered up the hill for three and a half hours! Didn't get very far though because we both kept stopping to inspect every little detail.

More details about my project - Julia Douglas

I am artist in residence at Timespan for 7 weeks, over June and July 2010, creating an exhibition (open 21st August – 10th October 2010) and a publication.

My work is usually inspired by the home and the relationship people have with the objects they put in them to make them their own. While I am here I plan to focus my attention on the history of Sutherland crofts and the crofter’s lifestyle and share some of the stories I collect about their lives, by pondering the relationship they had with their homes and the objects they put in them, and playfully transforming these into mixed media artworks. I'm thinking of constructing some sort of installation in the gallery and also making a lovely coffee table book packed with inspirational images and snippets of gathered stories.

I'm also going to work with enthusiastic members of the knitting group, who meet on a weekly basis in Timespan, and a handful of children from Helmsdale Primary School. I'm hoping they will be willing and able to help me make a piece for the exhibition. This cross-generational collaboration will not only help to develop closer relationships between the generations but also allow the knitting group to hand down some of their traditional skills to a younger generation, keeping these skills alive.

Tide Times

Watching the river every day, both upstream and downstream - documenting its movement using cameras -the local tide times are a guide for this but I have noticed they are not always exact. For tide times click here

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Julia Douglas returns to Timespan

How exciting to be the first to write something on this blog...and I'm not even staying in the flat...yet!

I'll explain more as I go, but first, some highlights from my journey from East Lothian to Helmsdale Sutherland:

The sculptural train wash and fantastic ceiling in Perth station

Just leaving Inverness

And finally, my traveling companion (I think he was a trainspotter. He had a wee notebook and guide and was clearly chuffed to have spotted something!)(I do apologize if he spots this!)

Arrived in Helmsdale with a ridiculously heavy bag, plus camera bag, plus laptop bag, totally knackered!

I came up last August for a two week residency, invited by Timespan and Claudia Zeiske from Finefunds, to write a proposal for a future residency and here I am. I am artist in residence here for 2 months, so I'll try and keep this blog up to date with my progress.

I'm not staying in the flat for the first couple of weeks because artist, Aileen Stackhouse, is also here, for a residency funded by the Royal Scottish Academy, and is already settled in the flat.

I'll write again soon and tell you a bit about my aims for the residency. if you want to know more about who I am, I also have my own blog, which you can read here

Cheerio for now