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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Rackwick, Hoy

Old Man

On deck on the Swan on a choppy grey morning, sitting by a bucket of mackerel caught just now by our engineer Ian. We’re at Lyness in Hoy, waiting for the tide to turn before we head out through the race to sail to Kirkwall. Yesterday we walked up to the Old Man of Hoy, an astonishing exclamation mark of rock standing just offshore on the west of Hoy. We hung our legs over the cliff edge, watching two climbers make the slow vertical ascent up sheer iron-red walls and deep clefts, until the midges drove us back to the valley of Rackwick and its stone bothy in the bay. Down to the Dwarfie Stone, a huge hewn rock resting in bog below the hills; a chieftan’s burial tomb, the only one of its kind in Scotland, chipped hollow and resonating with our voices. 18 and 19thth century graffiti on its cold walls; the others who passed by and wondered. Some of them may have come back to a boat like the Swan.

Hoy Cliffs


Sailors at Old man


Last night we sat knee to knee around the galley table, sharing stories, film, books, accounts of research and making relating to the sea and coastal communities. Ruth Maclennan’s haunting and disorientating underwater filming with marine scientists in the streaming Pentland Firth, Susana Baston’s studies of tidal velocity in the same waters, and early exploration of the potential impact of large scale energy extraction through tidal generation. It’s all so new here – the design, the economics, the impacts of the new technologies – Orcadians talk constantly about being on the edge, not just in physical terms but technologically, industrially, economically, culturally. The wave generation being trialled on the west coast, the tidal technologies still being imagined and designed for the Pentland Firth, these futuristic forms have the look of Leonardo’s sketches of flying machines and submarines – engineering on the edge of human imagination and technical possibility. If Scotland maintains its ambitious intention to deliver 100% renewable energy by 2020, then all these sources of generation will be called on at a large scale, but what effect might this have, this borrowing of the great sources of power and flow in the natural world, on seabed ecologies, on sediment transportation, on shorelines in this area?

Karine Polwart sang a song created out of her own research on the Isle of May, on Scotland’s east coast, walking and working beside marine scientists, ornithologists, fishers – the slow and careful monitoring of changing patterns, converging stresses, unearthed pasts and unspoken futures. ‘Listen to the isle…’ Her voice and words pull us all together into the living, shifting present. And the Unst Boat song, probably the oldest recorded song in Shetland, sung in Norn and harking back to the fear and and prayer of women waiting for their men to return from the sea…On this boat, on this night, its ancient plea sounds raw and close.

Bryony Lavery, Andy Crabb, James Brady

Bryony Lavery, Andy Crabb, James Brady


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

Go  2
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 ›