Connecting with the psyche of young island people was the intention behind Machair Art (2011-13). Together with artist, Olwen Shone, we co-designed and co-led this project as the community engagement aspect of the locally delivered Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ Project.
Machair Art delivered a thoughtful and physical investigation of the crofting way of life and the unique machair environment, as a method to encourage more young people to remain in crofting (the traditional form of agricultural land tenure particular to the Scottish Highlands and Islands) and connect with the ecological importance of the machair. It was designed as a four-day engagement workshop with a group of self-nominated island youth to expand their knowledge of local crofting life and explore the working landscape through multiple perspectives, to increase possibilities for their future lives as land stewards, contractors, or scientists.
Tha mi a bruadair/I am dreaming (2014) was a video project carried out as part of the artist, Shweta Bhattad’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Global Art, Farming and Peace Project, for Vancouver Biennale 2014-16. It was also shown as part of the Raising Farmers’ Voices in Paris at ‘Faith in Paris’ ArtCOP21. The footage captures the valuable intergenerational teaching being carried out at the High School, by local crofters as part of the school curriculum. The specific strain of wheat that is grown on these islands is unique and must be harvested each year to ensure next year’s crop. This sort of activity is under-recognised by those outside of the crofting world, but it has an important message to impart to young people and society about food security and sustainable agricultural practices.