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....

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Berneray week

Today is the last day of Berneray week; the week of the summer when the island really comes alive – lots of visitors and lots of events – including a 10k race around the island, barbecues, a treasure hunt, and this evening it all ends with a Traditional Concert. Our friends Chris Spears (who came 9th in today's race, but the 1st of the Berneray men so winning the Berneray Cup - well done, Chris) and Mary are right in the heart of this; they were already planning some of the Berneray Week events when we there in June.

A view from Berneray, with remains of lazybeds (feannagan) visible
in the foreground

But all I have to link me to the island today is a brown envelope full of Berneray Community Raffle tickets, announcing that The Grand Prize will be drawn this evening at the Community Hall (where we spent our week starting development of the Angus show). Maybe I'll win that Grand Prize - 2 nights for 2 at Menzies Glasgow Hotel, or the Amazon Kindle, second prize? I'm sitting by the phone, anyway...

Things wind down at Horse + Bamboo for a little while now; I'm away shortly for a few weeks holiday in Baltic lands. Joanne no doubt will continue her grass weaving, and Daniella will be planning the animated film section for Angus's garden at Craig Dunain. Esther has just come back from a week in Glasgow, on a marketing shindig but from what she tells me meeting with lots of people involved with theatre in the islands and highlands, many associated in particular with organisations working to promote and support the exciting regeneration of Gaelic. Having just finished 'A Waxing Moon', another – excellent – book by Roger Hutchinson, I'm very aware of this. The book tells the story of the relatively recent change in the fortunes of the language, after centuries of persecution and ignorance. Whether this transformation is in time to turn the tide it is clearly too early to say, but the book is surprisingly interesting, even exciting, and has given me a much better understanding of an issue which I've been aware of from the margins since meeting Fr. Colin MacInnes in Barra in the early 1980s, culminating in Horse + Bamboo taking an active part in Feis Bharraigh in 1984.   

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