In July 2011 Cape Farewell embarked on a month-long expedition by boat across the Scottish Islands, bringing the notion and experience of expedition home to the UK, with an exploration of island ecologies and cultures, and of the strategies for sustainable and resilient futures being implemented across the Scottish Isles. More ›

The Crew

The expedition crew of 40 includes island artists, storytellers, film makers, playwrights, architects, designers, musicians, community leaders, social scientists, ecologists, marine biologists, oceanographers, poets, acclaimed Gaelic singers and a chef.
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Video highlights

Watch video highlights from the expedition ›


Joins the expedition for week

4 weeks, 32 artists, 9 scientists, 1 boat
A crew of 41 people including award-winning novelist/filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, sailor Jo Royle – best known for sailing from America to Australia in a catamaran made entirely from plastic bottles, Gaelic singers Julie Fowlis, Mary Jane Lamond and Mary Smith, artists Alison Turnbull and Annie Cattrell, theatre maker David Harradine, playwright Iain Finlay Macleod, storyteller Ian Stephen, poet Jo Shapcott, chef Oliver Rowe and environmental scientist Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez travelled through the Outer and Inner Hebrides during summer 2011, as part of a series of voyages organised by Cape Farewell, in partnership with Cove Park.

The four week-long expeditions investigated the impact of climate change on the cultures and ecologies of Scotland’s island communities. A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned that rising sea levels are likely to have a ‘severe impact’ on much of the UK’s coastline in coming decades, in particular across Scotland’s outlying ‘bellwether’ islands which face the full force of increasing extreme weather events. Scotland’s Highlands and Islands are, however, exceptional in the range of pioneering sustainability programmes, adaptation projects and knowledge transfer schemes being developed at both grassroots level and at the forefront of EU sustainability policy.  They offer new imaginative approaches to the relationship between place, stewardship and community agency.

The voyages were themed around the Gaelic language, island musical tradition and story-telling, marine and environmental science, local resources and the built environment. Ideas and practice ranging from the Eigg community buy-out to the use of seaweed as a biofuel were explored as a starting point for a longer term, four-year project which include artists’ residencies across the islands, the documentation and dissemination through exhibition and public events of the experiences of artists and islanders, in particular stories of cultural resilience and survival, and the bringing together of local communities, artists and scientists across the Scottish islands to create a meaningful extension of the voyages.

We are working together with a wide range of amazing institutions, organisations and communities: Cove Park, National Oceanography Centre, Scottish Association for Marine Science, International Centre for Island Technology, Scottish National Heritage, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Storas Uibhist, Barra & Vatersay, Eigg Heritage Trust, Global Islands Network, University of Western Scotland, University of the Highlands and Islands, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, An Tobar, An Lanntair, Taigh Chearsabhagh, Historic Scotland, Siar FM, National Trust for Scotland, Canna Community Association, RSPB Balranald, Machair Life and SEALL Arts.

And many thanks for the support of Creative Scotland, Arts Council England, The Bromley Trust, Eden Project and The Lighthouse Foundation.

Sea Change Programme

Puffin from the Bird Yarns project, part of Cape Farewell's Sea Change programme.
Grown out of the Scottish Islands Expedition, Cape Farewell’s Sea Change is a four-year programme of research and making across Scotland’s western and northern isles. Sea Change involves over 30 UK and international artists and scientists, working collaboratively and independently to consider the relationships between people, places and resources in the context of climate change.... Read more ›

A timely reminder of how valuable an outsider’s perspective can be

Community Energy Scotland’s annual conference offered a timely reminder of how valuable an outsider’s perspective can be.  It was reported on some research into how different countries are taking forward the development of renewable energy. The study looks at several European countries including Scotland, as well as five states in America. The most striking feature... Read more ›

First there was an island – then there was a boat

Shiants 2
“First there was an island – then there was a boat”, so begins a poem by Shetland writer Laureen Johnston.  Since owning my first boat at the age of eleven, I have been an obsessive explorer of islands, the smaller and more remote the better.  Once, in the grip of a sudden attack of aquatic... Read more ›

‘On these isles’

Lawrence has a 7am coffee break after feeding cattle.
‘On these isles’ is a project by photographer Ed Smith, whom we had the great pleasure of meeting when visiting the Island of Eigg. Ed has spent large periods of time on Eigg and other Inner Hebridean isles capturing life there in pictures. Have a look at more of his images and this project at... Read more ›

A gaelic song

Mary Jane Lamond, Jo Royle and Julie Fowlis Video by Ruth Little

Cape Farewell – we know what to do, can art help us get on and do it?

The following is an excerpt from Sara Parkin’s article found on the Forum for the Future website. …I was fortunate enough to join the crew for one week of a four week tour of Scottish Islands, starting with Skye and Canna before crossing the Minch to Mingulay, Barra and South Uist. The weather was kind,... Read more ›

Islands and Visions

Eigg Barbecue on Song of the Whale
There is a sea view when travelling from Eigg to Mallaig where you have a 360° vision of the Small Isles, Skye, the mountains of Scotland, Mull and, far into the distance, the Outer Hebrides. At 6 am yesterday the grey of the sea bled into the numerous blues of the mountains all dramatised by... Read more ›

Annie Cattrell and Jo Shapcott in conversation about week 4 of the expedition

Annie 1
JS Annie, what is it about islands? AC I like the fact that there’s a larger proportion of sea than land mass visible. There appears to be a completeness and self-sufficiency about the individual islands even though they are all distinctly different. There seems to be a big distinction between uninhabited and inhabited islands –... Read more ›


Photo by Sion Parkinson
(1) On the crossing from Ullapool to Stornaway on the Calmac, I wrote myself a list of rules, a set of behaviours that would concentrate my efforts, or assuage any guilt from any feelings of impotence, in my seven days aboard the ship. (1.1) Rules: (1.1.1) Take photographs, more than you need to, get in... Read more ›


Cotton Grass marking  Dwelling Rona
It was my birthday when I went to Rònaidh first. A place I wanted to see since I was little but I had always missed the boat. It is about forty miles north of my house near the Butt of Lewis. I went on the sixth of August aged thirty eight on the yacht ‘Song... Read more ›

Mary Arnold-Forster

Skye architect Mary shows the house of Fred Taylor she designed and reflects on the progress on Eigg and other green based aspirations for the islands architecture and energy supply.   Video shot by David Buckland     Sketches by Mary Arnold-Forster

Farewell and Ahoy: Log of a Voyage

Photo by Mary Smith
“Back in the kitchen.  A new group has joined Song of the Whale. There is an overlap of crew, Cape Farewell folk, and the artists and scientists who will sail together this coming week. They are planning to sail to North Rona, the Shiants and the coasts of Skye. But I’ve left the ship though... Read more ›