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....

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Mairi Morrison and Mark Whitaker
Mark and Frances Merriman
A perfect crossing from Oban to Tiree on the Calmac ferry 'The Clansman'. On arrival we were met by a committee of islanders all of whom are involved in the Tiree feis, a week of events aimed at celebrating the Gaelic culture of the island. This same group showed us spectacular hospitality throughout our stay. As a consequence the hall, where we performed 'Angus - Weaver of Grass', was full of groups of young people playing accordions, chanters, pipes - and singing. Our show was free, having been supported with donations from several local trusts and one individual. Well over 200 people turned up - almost a third of the island population, and we were given a great reception. 

Outside the Tiree hall before the show started
The machair on Tiree
For me the show was typical of many shows performed in village halls without raked seating or a stage - perhaps 60 or 70 people get a good view, but the majority see very little. Of course they hear the music but I find it hard to imagine how they can really follow the action and the story. I stood near the back and could see almost nothing. Still, the show got a great reception, and almost 100 stayed back for up to an hour to ask questions, see the puppets and masks, as well as Joanne B Kaar's woven artefacts (Joanne herself was in the audience). We sold our entire collection of 30 copies of Roger Hutchinson's 'The Silent Weaver', and I had a long queue of people lining up to congratulate me on the production.

The lounge on 'The Clansman' on our crossing to Barra, the 'feis cruise'
The blue H+B van leaves 'The Clansman' with Kisimul Castle behind. Castlebay, Barra.
Then today on to Barra on a crossing that just happened to be the 'feis cruise' with the young musicians of Tiree playing on the journey, along with a piper and a fiddler on the deck. We passed through a group of about 20 basking sharks on yet another smooth and perfect voyage, again under perfect blue skies. Then a quick journey up to the north of Barra and from there the small ferry to Eriskay and finally a drive to Uist and Benbecula. Tomorrow - a day off! Fantastic.

No comments:

Post a Comment