3. Into the silent sea, 2020
Into the silent sea is an ongoing research and practice-led project emanating from a residency in the Outer Hebrides in 2019, and two narratives connected to the remote Scottish island of St Kilda: the island's migratory history with Australia and it's unique breed of wild sheep.
In 1852, over one-third of St Kilda's inhabitants left the remote outpost for a new life in Australia. Of the thirty-six that made the journey into the Southern Ocean, only seventeen reached the shores of Australia alive (several more either passed away in the years following or later emigrated to North America). Representing a significant portion of the island’s population at the time, the blighted voyage has often been glossed over in historical accounts of the place and its eventual evacuations in 1930.
A distinctive, and prevailing feature on the isle is the unique populace of wild Soay (Soay meaning “sheep island” in Norse) that have roamed the island over the past 3000–4000 years. Considered to be one of the most primitive sheep breeds in existence today, the animal’s hardy fleece was the source of numerous uses and gave rise to grounded textiles methods that reflected the ways that people lived in the landscape.
Charting the island's lineage at the antipodes, the research aims to act as a log for those that left behind a home and negotiated a life at the other edge of the world. Working with Soay wool sourced from the island, the ensuing work is exploring ways to (re)introduce antecedent material and cultural practices across time and place, observing loss and the embodied memory that surfaces.