We are but a moment in the flow of time…

 Flow 1Can we speak of love…

love of a landscape,

of the dance of light and cloud upon leaden Autumn waters,

of the sway of cotton grass in a playful Summers breeze,

of the cool green air which wisps around your Spring hair,

of those little details which reveal a world,

of the escape from mundane valley floor,

of soaring rocks, glacial scarred and Winter shattered

raptor and carrion,

your rapture and return…

Can we speak of love…..

…. from fragments,

from imperfect

from the hard cold realities….

Can we speak of love….

love of the object,


hard won,



Flow 4Flow 5Can we speak of love…

separated by 5000 years,

joined by a humanity.

Is it too hard to feel…

what it means to acquire,

to complement,
to share…

Flow 9Flow 10Flow 11

These partial traces,



objects desired,

with no value…
only discard,


the waste from



Flow 12Yet …..

….they were hard won

by trowel,

by folded body

by stiffened knee…..

by cut finger and

aching arm…

they were hard won….

by stone upon stone,

crack and dust,
clatter and clinker,
roughed out…

waste, waste, waste, waste, waste,

the object is borne

Flow 13Can we speak of love….

again revealed,
bagged and tagged


incorporated into a world

beyond their….

… imagine,

a metric curation,

an assertion of the rationale…


a terror of what they may reveal…

Flow 14Flow 15Can we speak of love…

love of the object…

a fetish beyond,

love of the insight,

of the revelation,

of the enlightenment,

beyond, we love beyond

the bounds of normal understanding…

for one moment they mattered,

the core of a world denied for millennia,

for one short moment

a sweet anticipation of display and adoration,

of wonder and desire… Flow 16Flow 17Flow 18Can we speak of love…

Care, and ware, grind and polish…

Smoothed and caressed, a concentration,



an obsession…

material meditations…

shared and displayed…

an eternal transformation…

objects transcending moments of humanity…

…your daughters daughters sons


tell tale of those who pulled them from

the mother rock…

Flow 19And yet we have inherited hard cold curation,

an uncomfortable,

comfort from discipline,

little known,
little revealed,
little shared,

but we are satisfied ?

with what…

Flow 20Flow 21

Flow 24 Flow 22with the recovery of loss,
with the ordering of disorder,
with the categorisation of the chaotic,
with the control of the uncontrollable….

with our conceit …

can we speak of love…

Flow 25 Flow 26Flow 27Look again,

look carefully,

not at the traces of the past,
at the fleeting glimpses

of the future…

Flow 28…fragments shared,


…fragments journeyed,


…fragments retold,


…fragments transformed,


…fragments returned…

Flow 29Can we speak of love…

love of the possibilities of what might be,

love of our shared humanity,

love of the intangibility of the tangible…

Dry and broken husks, pass no more on the winter stream,

occasional glints, below the surface beckon Spring rains.

Flow 32

Can we plant and tend,

seeds of spirit


seeds of soul


seeds of light

roots and radiance,

beyond generations glow.

Flow 34The journey, the narrative continues….

how will you love

heap more order upon disorder

or narrate the next chapter, the next journey

share and tell,

show and reveal,

one year to this day…


Flow 35but a moment in the flow of time…


One interest I have are the threads which can be drawn out and traced through the millennia.  So slight, so fine, they can only be seen from certain angles – a flash, a glint, in peripheral glances – but I am sure they are there.

One fragile thread I have been teasing out was originally found in the uplands.  Five thousand years ago people quarried stone from mountain places such as the Langdale, Cumbria and Craig Na Caillich, Perthshire.  From the stone they produced polished stone axes. Polished stone axes may have been considered prestige objects and often traveled significant distances, perhaps handed from person to person.  Each time a polished stone axe moved, its story may have traveled with it linking time and space through the memories of generations.

The piece I present in part here traces these threads and looks forward.  Some images show a small quartz cairn I first created in the uplands six years ago and how it has changed.  Other images show large waste flakes from making rough out axes 5500 years ago: they had been excavated by archaeologists and they were going to be disposed of as no longer wanted for curation.  Many of the images relate to the burn which flows down from Craig Na Caillich axe factory, other relate to prehistoric sites where polished stone axes may well have been used and deposited.

The piece was presented in the Creative Archaeologies session, co-organised by Antonia Thomas, Dan Lee, Carolyn White and Ursula Frederick, at the 2015 European Association of Archaeologists conference.

As part of the piece 25 boxes were given away and an invite extended to those who took them to collaborate in exploring the future chapter of what was inside.

Flow of TimeThe piece extends :

In The Flow Of Time We Are But A Moment ….



Prehistory PoemPREHISTORY

Walking the Denburn

is a poem by Lesley Harrison in a recently produced collection entitled UPSTREAM.

UpstreamThe poems were produced whilst walking urban waterways, the Dighty Burn in Dundee and the Denburn in Aberdeen.  Like most now urban watercourses, they once offered ready route ways to the earliest travelers and often one of the reasons why towns and cities were founded where they were.  Over the centuries, they have been variously modified and culverted, shaped and formed to serve the needs of urban life.  Often becoming a focus of industry, providing power from watermills, and a convenient place to dispose of unwanted waste, historically having resulted in reduced water quality and biodiversity.

The poems in the collection are particularly sensitive to the chronologically textured nature of places and how they can ebb and flow with other parts of landscapes.  I really enjoyed reading the poems but, as with all poetry of place, it would be great to hear them read aloud by the poet at the locations they were inspired by.

Please go to the Making Space for Water website for more information.


Many thanks to Lesley Harrison for sending a copy of the Upstream Booklet and postcards. They were produced as part of Making Space for Water : A Poetry of Place project for the Imagining Natural Scotland 2013, funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Past Inspired Sculpture 5

– stand upon
this footprint made for everyone

The Stones of Scotland was created in 2000 to celebrate / commemorate the Scottish Parliament being re-established but also attempted to mark its spirit.

Stone CircleIt is a potent sculptural piece by artist George Wylie, which is redolent with Scotland’s past and full of hopes for its future.

Stone and steel rung around a solitary Scots pine: young and fragile in the urban realities of the modern era.

Thirty two stones were gathered into the circle, drawing on the geological diversity of the country.  Many show signs of quarrying, and working, seemingly in different states of finish, presencing the industry and craft which has contributed to the heritage and character of Scotland.

Old Red Sandstone

From East Ayrshire, a fossil pocked surface of old red sandstone, splits visible celebrating the quarrying, the mining, the sculptural versatility of a material.  Evoking tenements within which many generations of families have lived within.

Polished GraniteFrom Aberdeenshire, the polished granite, cool, smooth but hard won, reliable.

Hugh MacDiarmid

These fragments of Scotland’s regions, drawn together, like the words of verse, are bound by the lines from poet Hugh MacDiarmid: a celebration of our differences which we share.


And also in the centre of the circle, is a stone with a foot print carved on it.  Evoking the sites and ceremonies of the early Historic period of Scotland.

The words before it  ‘…whose the tread that fits this mark?’

come from a poem ‘Incantation‘ by Tessa Ransford.

       *                                                    *                                                                 *

Ten years later from when the above photos were taken, I revisited the piece in the fading twilight of a winters day.

Most visibly marking the changes of the past ten years

was the solitary Scots pine

10 years laterTaller, fuller, I was pleased to see it had grown and matured since I last visited.

In another ten years, I will visit again.


The foot print in stone can be paralleled most strikingly at Dunadd, in Kilmartin. The seat of the Dalriadic Scots, it is said the ceremony to crown their kings required the individual to place their bare foot on the rock: a real connection to land.  The depth of the footprint sculpture is a powerful device suggesting, with the slight wear on the rock this single act would have, to all those who took part a long time depth to the ceremony, and deep connection to the land.

For more examples of Past Inspired Sculptures:

Past Inspired Sculpture 1

Past Inspired Sculpture 2

Past Inspired Sculpture 3

Past Inspired Sculpture 4


Watery WorldA bonus from visiting Cairnsmore of Fleet is seeing one of only 20 copies of ‘Voices from Glentrool and Merrick‘.  A beautiful portfolio of prints by Silvana McLean and poems by Mary Smith stemming from another art project exploring the relationships between people, heritage and landscapes.

Past Inspired Sculpture 4

WaterlinesWaterlines by Marian Leven & Will Maclean is located in the public space in front of the RIAS 2013 award winning The Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen.

The shape of the piece, two monoliths of Kilkenny Blue Limestone, and form of incised lines evokes Pictish carvings. The piece also refers to the Aberdeen built sailing ship the Thermopylae, launched in 1868: apparently the fastest sailing ship ever constructed.

At the foot of the monoliths is an inscribed poem by Peter Davidson:

Poem - Peter Davidson

It clearly evokes the maritime heritage of Aberdeen but also refers to the standings stones which can still be found in the wider landscape referring to the ‘crow stone’ and ‘maiden stone’.

For more thoughts about this piece, from the artists Will Maclean and Marian Leven, please watch the video.  Well worth watching about Past Inspired Sculpture: markers in the landscape.


Past Inspired Sculpture 1

Past Inspired Sculpture 2

Past Inspired Sculpture 3

For more info about Waterlines there is an interesting review by Georgina Coburn at Northings.

Poetry of Sculpture – journey through the south west

HushBefore I visited Cairnsmore of Fleet, National Nature Reserve, I probably anticipated my experience would be dominated by the ‘natural’ and that I would encounter a wild landscape.  However, even as I arrived it became rapidly apparent that the landscape was significantly marked by cultural activity.  Not only is much of it dominated by significant areas of coniferous plantations but the Big Water of Fleet Viaduct was a striking cultural relict (apparently featuring in the 1935 film version of John Buchan’s 39 Steps).

Forests and Viaduct

In fairness I was drawn to the site because I knew there was an artwork by artist Matt Baker and poet Mary Smith: a collection of five sculptures and poems (Scene Shifters, Ocean, Hush, Heart and Erratic) which responded to the landscape of Cairnsmore.  In amongst the buildings of the working farm is a small (but excellent) visitor center with interpretation about the landscape and the art works.

Cairnsmore InterpretationIt was there that I collected five posts cards which were to guide me on my journey of discovery.  To discover the sculptures at Cairnsmore there are five clues, one on each of the post cards, which lead you consecutively to the sculptures.  The first to Ocean reads –

from the visitor centre before the river is bridged, don’t get your feet wet !

I am not going to show you all the sculptures (sorry, but they are wonderful), as I want you all to have your own journey of discovery at Cairnsmore…..

Over the next four hours or so, I followed the clues and was surprised and delighted by what I discovered.  The individual pieces are beautifully sculpted, all imaginatively and sensitively located in their landscape, evoking many cultural and natural references, but it was the way in which they were blended into a journey of discovery which was most joyous to experience.

Parts in a SceneGuiding PostcardsDiscover SculptureFound it

Landscape today is not an end result,

but only a single frame

in a long-running, slow motion movie.

How well will we act our parts in the next scene?

(From Scene Shifters by Mary Smith)


I did not want to give too much away in this post (as I would encourage those who are lucky enough to visit Cairnsmore of Fleet to undertake the journey of discovery which these artists have so elegantly staged for the visitor) but I hope I can give you a flavour of why I found this to be such a great artwork. I was left reflecting on what our landscapes would be like if every one was subject to a similar process of artistic exploration. 
Not least that these artists also produced a Cairnsmore Poems ‘passport’ for the two gateway communities at Creetown and Gatehouse which were distributed at opendays, workshops and talks:
Cairnsmore Poems‘The idea was to give the poems to local people and offer them the chance to find the sculptures in the landscape in the hope that knowledge of the artworks would grow outwards from within the two communities’

Found Poetry – journey through the south west

I traveled from river side to hilltop,

and, perhaps inevitably in South West Scotland, I encountered the magnificent work of Andy Goldsworthy.

Striding Arches - distant aboveStriding Arches - distant belowA long walk along snow covered forestry tracks, frozen burns hiding in the shadows, took me to one of the red sandstone arches (each comprising 31 blocks totaling 27 tons) constructed on three inter-visible upland locations.  The Striding Arches website is a great resource where you can get further information but I would recommend, if at all possible, you take the time to visit as they only make sense experiencing them in there landscape.

Bothy ArchBefore I visited I had not appreciated that Goldsworthy’s work blends with the work of two other artists within the Cairnhead Community Forest.  Along the Dalwhat Water riverside are, The Hill of Streams letterboxes by Alec Finlay : also complemented by audio-files of the varying sounds of the different confluences.  While the artwork at the Bothy, also comprises some beautiful detailed stone carving by Pip Hall that presences the earlier names of the settlement and some of those who once dwelt there.

Matho Fergusone 1507 - carved by Pip Hall

Inside the Bothy I was intrigued to discover a dirty acetate sheet with a concrete poem printed on it.

Abandoned AcetateIt seems fair to let the found poet have the last word:

Found Poetry


Coincidentally, there has been another recent post on Striding Arches at ECOARTS which is worth looking at too.