In August 2013 we set sail from Stromness on our second Sea Change expedition, aboard Lerwick community boat The Swan, with a crew of 27 artists, scientists and informers. More ›

The Crew

The expedition crew of 27 includes a wide range of scientific and creative folk.
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Video highlights

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Shipping Forecast – Issued: 1030 UTC Wed 14 Aug

Wind: Southwest, backing south or southeast, 3 or 4, increasing 5 or 6 for a time.

Sea State: Slight or moderate.

Weather: Occasional rain, fog patches later.

Visibility: Moderate or good, occasionally very poor later.

Just five days until the first group of Northern Isles expedition artists and scientists gathers in Stromness, Orkney, to board the 113-year old Shetland fifie the Swan. We’ll be arriving from London, Liverpool, Skye, Orkney, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and other places on the road, bringing with us stories of our recent projects and research, and questions relating to flux, change and transformation on these islands and in their waters.

Bridget McKenzie recently drew attention through her blog (http://thelearningplanet.wordpress.com/) to writer Nick Laird’s call for a Slow Language Movement. This movement towards attending, listening and deep reading might help us to pry apart the smooth shell of cultural, economic and political packaging  to expose the kernel of unquestioned assumptions about how we live in relation to one another and our world. Slow Language, like Slow Food (and the growing Slow Fish movement), restores the emphasis on communication, exchange, presence, physical gesture, embodied experience and, above all, respect for and full participation in context.


The Shipping Forecast, with its steady iterations, and the strange, dark poetry of its references and repetitions, is an example of Slow Language. Every spare word has a full and palpable meaning to the seafarers who rely on it. Every rock and promontory, every region of turbulent water becomes fully visible, has ‘a local habitation and a name.’ The Shipping Forecast is an aural icon – a rehearsal of our shared maritime culture (and so was played during Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony) – but it is also a navigational device, a valuable and practical tool for all times, and its words have weight and integrity.


Next week we begin a journey into the Fair Isle sea area, spanning 60 degrees latitude between Viking and Faeroes. On board the Swan, we’ll listen with new attention to the slow language of the Shipping Forecast, to one another’s stories and questions, and to the dialogue of wind and wave that has brought about such change in Orkney’s economy and culture. More words and soundings to follow.


Author: Ruth Little


Joins the expedition for week 1, 2 and 3 Ruth Little is a theatre and dance dramaturg, a teacher and writer. She lectured in English literature at the University of Sydney, and was artistic associate at the Young Vic. She was literary manager at Out of Joint, Soho Theatre and the Royal Court. Ruth is currently associate director at Cape Farewell, where she is curating Sea Change, a 4-year programme of interdisciplinary research.
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James Brady’s expedition blog for ecoartscotland

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See James Brady’s blog here:   http://ecoartscotland.net/    

Leaving Fair Isle

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Andy Crabb’s Sea Changes Part 1 now on vimeo

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Sea Changes, part 1 featuring Karine Polwart from Andy Crabb on Vimeo. Part 1 of a film about Cape Farewell’s Northern Isles expedition, on board the Swan LK243. The Swan is a traditional Shetland fishing sail boat, restored and operated by a community based trust in Shetland swantrust.com/. She is a truly beautiful boat. The film... Read more ›

Carbon Cycle

1.carbon sink
CARBON/SINK Site-specific organic drawing, North Haven pier, Fair Isle (peat and fresh water / 12” x 120”)     A musing on the ecology of the Carbon Cycle and the human intervention within it’s system: the symbiotic links between the entropy of organic matter – moorland as a carbon sink – fossil fuels – carbon... Read more ›

Wind, stone

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Wind, stone: by Teresa Elwes

Fish For The Table

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FishForTheTable 03 vimeo from Tam Treanor.

Microcosms: Eons, Tides and Dreams

‘I go to the rockpool at the slack of the tide to mind me what my poetry’s for.’ –      Jen Hadfield (from the poem, Daed-traa*)           ‘The parent materials were gathered together as volcanoes poured them out in fiery streams, as waters running over the bare rocks of the continents wore... Read more ›


bunk and deck
quota n 1. the proportional or part of a whole that is due from, due to, or allocated to a person or group 2. a prescribed number or quantity, as of items to be manufactured, imported, or exported, immigrants admitted to a country [from Latin quota pars how big a share?, from quotus of what... Read more ›

Freedom Come All Ye” performed by Karine Polwart in The Italian Chapel, Orkney August 2013.

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“Freedom Come All Ye” performed by Karine Polwart in The Italian Chapel, Orkney August 2013. from Andy Crabb on Vimeo. In August 2013 members of Cape Farewell’s “Sea Change” project explored the landscapes, history and future of the Orkneys whilst sailing on board The Swan, a beautifully restored Shetland Fifie. The group consisting of artists,... Read more ›

Pelagic Gannets

When the seas calmed and I was no longer confined to my sick bunk, it was wonderful to be on deck and to observe my new watery surroundings, I saw gannets flap and glide past the Swan and was amazed to see their large wingspan for the first time. They truly are a majestic bird!... Read more ›

Sea change See change

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Poet. Climate change.  Environmentalist.  Scientist. Carbon economy. (Ex-)soldier. Renewables. Conservationist.  Fishing quota.  Artist. Sustainability. Writer.  Everyday words susceptible to our own interpretation, predisposition and characterisation.   Words that can be polarising and divisive.  So what happens when you mix them with a few associated ingredients?  On the one hand there is the potential for an explosive... Read more ›

Big words + Lumpy times

scalloway map
LUMPY adj lumpier, lumpiest full of or having lumps (Transport / Nautical Terms) (esp of the sea) rough confused seas We headed south on ‘lumpy’ seas from Scalloway towards Sumburgh Head.  Our direction towards the East side was guided by the weather forecast and I was pleased to be moving at last. I have been... Read more ›