Inner Hebrides

Cape Farewell and the Scottish "bellwether" islands

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Cape Farewell known for its seafaring expeditions to the Arctic to study climate change, with scientists and artists aboard, is taking a journey closer to home.Kellie Gutman reports on Cape Farewell’s latest voyage.

For four weeks starting July 15, a rotating crew of thirty-two artists and nine scientists will sail around Scotland’s coastal islands to investigate the effects of climate change on the island cultures and ecologies.  A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns about the ‘severe impact’ rising sea levels are likely to have on the coastline of the UK, and the Outer and Inner Hebrides are the ‘bellwethers’ for the coast. Each week will have a theme: Gaelic language; island musical tradition and story-telling; marine and environmental science; local resources and the built environment.

Cape Farewell associate director Ruth Little comments:

‘One of the aims of the project is to challenge the widespread assumption that climate change impacts are only relevant to coastal communities in the global south.  The environmental, social and economic situation in Scotland’s island communities resonates strongly with that of other island and coastal cultures worldwide… [We] will seek to develop new forms of communication for the human experience of climate change, and new forums for collaboration and bold imaginative response to the profound changes we all face.’

The islands have a wide range of sustainability projects ongoing, and Cape Farewell will use these as a starting point for a four-year plan of artist residencies to document, disseminate and bring together
islanders around the issues of sustainability.

The expedition blog can be followed on the Ashdenizen blogroll in our left-hand column.

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

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