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, 13 September 2012


On Sunday I took a train to Thurso, hired a car, and drove the 25 minutes out to Lyth Arts Centre, a quite amazing place created by Willie Wilson. Apparently in the middle of nowhere, it can actually draw an audience from a wide hinterland. Willie is well known and trusted in the Caithness community where his centre sits in farmland half way between Thurso and Wick. 17 years ago Horse + Bamboo arrived at this place with horses and carts, but this time it was in a Transit van. Willie is still very much here, offering his wonderful hospitality and attention to detail - to us certainly, and I'm sure to all the many artists who travel out this way because they know just how special it is.

Our show booked up two weeks ago, and Willie persuaded us to put on an extra performance in the afternoon. Both performances were rapturously received. The photograph below shows Frances and Mairi, in front of Jonny and Mark,  showing masks, puppets and Joanne Kaar's weaving to the audience after the show. Joanne lives 15 minutes drive away from Lyth, so it was lovely for her to be with us - she came to both performances - and for the cast to meet her friends and family.

The day after was a day off for the company before they embarked on a strenuous last leg of the tour. As so often with days off there were a few jobs to do. Not least a repair of a prop - a smouldering sheepskin torch (!) which took most of the morning and half of the evening. But still we took the afternoon out to see the sights - including Dunnet Head, close to Joanne's house in Dunnet. This is the most northerly point on the British mainland. Immediately below the photograph shows Jonny looking across Dunnet Bay to Dunnet Head, and below that the view from Dunnet Head itself - looking west all the way to Cape Wrath.

Then yesterday I left early with everyone else still asleep, and drove to the station to take the early train back home. The picture is Lyth Arts Centre, with the H+B van in the car park, as the sun rose. As you can imagine, I left feeling just a little sad...

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