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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Links of Noltland

Links of Noltland, Westray


On one side of Westray pier the Swan tucked in among fishing boats, heaps of creels, ropes, crates. On the other side three Westray skiffs, a century old, their narrow masts perfectly reflected in the still waters of the bay. Up on the hill a community wind turbine, spinning a local resource out of the air. Old ways in new contexts, everywhere on the islands. We walked with archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones through the village of Pierowall and over to the North Sea-facing dunes of the Links of Noltland. And here it all comes together, all the dynamic, complex interweaving of people, place and resources. Caroline introduces us to Hazel Moore, who is leading the dig on the Neolithic site here in the sand and stone Hazel walks us around the site, a 5000-year old settlement revealed by erosion on Orkney’s constantly changing. Storm-battered coasts. A circular dwelling of local laminar sandstone, with small chambers leading off it, storage spaces, sleeping places, hearths and benches, pathways, flagstones emerging from sand and marram grass. And everywhere the rust-coloured bones of cattle, scattered on the ground and piled with limpet shells in the midden heap beside the house. And from this site archaeologists have retrieved the oldest representations of the human form found in Britain; small and simple limbless stone figures – highly abstract, and yet instantly recognizable. One of them, the smallest, has eyes and eyebrows pecked into the smooth stone – she looks out at us seeing ourselves in her. These figures were owned by Britain’s first farming families, whose sedentary culture replaced the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who had lived lightly here since the end of the last Ice Age on shores now reclaimed by the sea. The Neolithic families were eventually driven from these settlements by wind-blown sand and salt, which destroyed their crops, just as coastal erosion is currently eating away at Orkney’s porous border. These long-vanished people, who tended cattle and rye and made art with stone and bone, must have looked out on the same heaving sea, shared food and stories, developed their technologies, and wondered what the coming season would bring. Sitting where they sat, on cool stone benches, clutching our cameras and sketchbooks and sound-recording equipment, we tell our stories of the sea and its fluxes and forces, share our food, and watch the tide push towards us.



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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1 Comment

  1. avatar David B says:

    Great to share through such good words, and photograph. Marks left in sand that last for over a thousand years.

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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 ›