Thoughts on a small Isle of Lewis writing residency

Kirsty Law on her sruth-mara residency. From Kirsty’s blog

It’s the first days of September, I’m here on the Isle of Lewis and coming to the end of my solo summer tour. I’ve been performing solo arrangements of songs from my latest project, ‘Young Night Thought’, as well as the beginnings of things that are new – at this stage tentative and curious.

It’s the perfect time now to focus on some writing. So I’m very excited that Sruth-Mara – arts promoter based in Uig, on the west side of the island, conceived by Andrew Eaton-Lewis – have heard the call. I will now not only be performing in the Uig Community Centre but in the three days leading up to it I’ll be ‘resident’ there, writing, experiementing, meeting the folk that come through its doors. 

This is the kick start of my new project – working title [Mark-Making]. It’s at that embyonic stage, all questions, no answers, destination: unknown. It starts with some basic lines of enquiry. These are:

  • In this ever-scarier global world, how do you make a difference, a mark, an impression? Is it all about the large scale, or, is there a strong sense of empowerment to be gained by refocussing our attentions, placing value on the ‘audience of one’ and acts of sharing?
  • Feild recordings – questions and study around field recordings form the basis of this project. One of the ways I fell in love with traditional songs was through hearing them alongside the ticking of the clock in the room, the preamble of the singer, the questions of the collector, the bird outside the window, the clink of the tea cup. These little sounds were signifiers that, although this singer was performing to the tiniest of audiences, this small act of skill and generosity was part of a bigger, complex picture.
  • The tactility of music – how can I, right from the beginning of the writing process, gain a sense of place/space in my composition? What ‘noises’ can make, use, take, play with?
  • Contemporary sounds/writing: when I have explored all of these recordings and ideas and delved into the past, I hope to ask – what moves me to sing now, from where I stand? And what what will those songs sound like?

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