ANGUS MCPHEE - Weaver of Grass

ANGUS MCPHEE or MACPHEE was a crofter from Uist who spent almost 50 years in a Highland psychiatric hospital. During this time he chose not to speak - instead he wove a series of incredible costumes out of grass. These he hung on trees in the hospital grounds.

This blog follows the progress of HORSE + BAMBOO THEATRE as they develop and tour a show about Angus....

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The decline of the blackhouse

I'm back home now after my second recent trip to the Outer Hebrides. My work on the Angus show will slow right down now, as I have to turn my attention to other projects. But work on 'Angus' at Horse + Bamboo is far from stopping. Esther will be putting together the tour for 2012, and Helen will be spending a lot of her time in raising the funds that will enable the tour to take place. 

Individual artists will continue the work too. Joanne B Kaar will be making more of the woven grass work that replicates the pieces made by Angus MacPhee, and which will be such an important part of the final production. I'm also going to be planning the animated film sections with Daniella Orsini, and I hope Daniella will be able to make a start on these pieces of film, many of which will use the still and filmed footage that I've been taking on my recent trips. 

On our last full day on the islands we visited a ruined tigh dubh, a blackhouse, not dissimilar to the one Angus and his sisters would have been brought up in. Inside were the remains of the stove, the furniture, all the items the family living there would have used in their lives:

A sad sight, and not an unusual one on the islands. I wondered if Angus's home in Iochdar would have had its walls clad in wood as with this one or simply plastered. Of course his old family home is now slowly deteriorating as I've noted in previous blogs. The adjoining houses to the one in these photographs had gone a stage further, with the roof beams having collapsed, and the marram grass thatching had fallen with them into the inside of the house walls.

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