My goodness, my Blog!
I have neglected to write for a bit, as I have been busily undertaking the beginning of the residency and with minimal internet access. Now I am back online I’ll add a few posts to update you.
Also I think it would be appropriate to give a potted history of the island-
The 12th June 1997 marked the end of a long and hard fought battle for the tiny island of Eigg in the Scottish inner Hebrides.
The earliest clans fought amongst themselves and Eigg’s entire population was twice wiped out entirely (save an old lady who could tell the tale). The English, of course, considered sheep more profitable than the Scotts and ruined many of the Small Isles creating bracken strangled moors, unfit for farming. With the sheep farming came evictions, the new owners using the stones of old tenant housing to build field walls. There were the odd couple of progressive owners at the beginning of the 20th century, but the last pair of these trinket collecting King-for-a-day types took it a step too far. Advertising for new islanders to create a thriving community, followed by insensible and whimsical behavior and constant threats of evictions drove someone (no-one will admit to the crime) to set fire to His-Nib’s antique Bentley Limousine, by the pier. Schellenberg (a name that a decade on still draws a grimace) was shortly afterwards driven away only to be replaced by a more illusive despot; the German artist Maruma. This con-man laid out a set of bizarre development plans, only for it to turn out that he had bought the Isle with money from questionable foreign sources and had passed it through doubtful companies and guises. The Isle and its mixed bag of inhabitants (from England, France and from other parts of Scotland- immigrants of the Schellenbergian era, and numbering only 50) bought their island, in partnership with the Highland Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Whether it is true or not that Pavarotti put in a serious bid against the islanders is still a source of hilarity more than certainty.
The community that had fought and won now busied itself with becoming self sufficient with its own hydroelectric power, and other Eco accolades.
I intend to question the relationships between the preservation of historical and cultural artifacts, and the commodification of these artifacts for tourism. I want to explore how personal and island-wide myths are affected, and if any new ones are created as a result.
The recent history defined their identity then, and unsurprisingly they are still largely defined by it today.