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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Joins the expedition for week

Sea Change 2013: Orkney-Shetland Expedition
‘People, Place, Resources on Scotland’s Islands’

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.

Journeying from Orkney to the Shetland islands via Fair Isle, the expedition will consider the relationship between people, place and resources in coastal and island environments, with emphasis on the role of community agency and local knowledge in developing social and ecological resilience. The project will build on Cape Farewell’s established programme of expedition, education and commissions by establishing artist residency and curatorial partnerships with pioneering environmental and cultural organisations across the Northern Isles.

The Swan expedition is intended both to build bridges between disciplines and to extend the capacities, reach and interconnectedness of participating artists. At the same time, the journey will interrogate the idea of expedition itself, emphasising the value of exploration and stewardship of our own, rather than distant and ‘exotic’, places. Two groups of artists will each spend up to 10 days on the Swan, actively involved in sailing the boat and in dialogue and collaborative research with participating scientists and with one another. The boat itself provides a fitting environment for discussion of needs and limits, and issues of resource constraint and climate change adaptation will also be explored in onshore dialogue and community events, including climate cèilidhs, guided walks and site visits, public presentations by artists, scientists and island tradition-bearers, and the launch at Orkney’s Pier Arts Centre of Things Unspoken/Things Unseen, a new artists’ book by Anne Bevan and Andrea Roe.

Expedition is a way of seeing place anew, and offers many points of access for participants and local communities to collaborate, celebrate and deepen knowledge of their physical context. The Orkney-Shetland Expedition is based on the conviction that people, place and resources are intertwined, and that our terrestrial home is inextricably bound up with our maritime environment. Rather than defining islands as remote and isolated, we are developing the idea of the knowledge archipelago, linking island and mainland communities through culture and science, and acknowledging the sea as the essential and threatened medium which carries human and material resources, stories, and forms of local knowledge from place to place.

There is now an urgent need, widely expressed by climate and social scientists and by local communities affected by accelerating change, for more imaginative and effective dialogue between policy-makers, business and community around issues of resource use, cultural resilience, wellbeing and disenfranchisement. This is an outcome not only of climate and resource stresses in marginal rural communities, but also of the industrialisation of renewable energy across the islands and mainland of Scotland. The ethical, empirical and ecological complexities of these issues demand new lenses and ways of identifying, valuing and communicating the constituent qualities of place. Sea Change facilitates knowledge transfer across disciplines and sectors, enhancing the confidence and capacity of artists as key participants in a rapidly evolving discourse around human futures, and supporting them in the creation of new work as acts of cultural participation and relationship.

The expedition will offer forms of empirical and imaginative engagement with sites and areas of environmental significance, and will also challenge the separation of the human and natural worlds, in part through consideration of traditional forms of knowledge and practice through which people and place are interwoven.

Sea Change supports artists in developing new knowledge and competency in research methods, cross-sector collaboration, agency and advocacy, to become full and influential participants in the network of relations between communities, ecologies and economies.

Local partners:

The Swan Trust: http://www.swantrust.com/

Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative: http://www.fimeti.org.uk/

Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Guest House: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk/

The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney: http://www.pierartscentre.com/

International Centre for Island Technology, Herriot-Watt University: http://www.icit.hw.ac.uk/

NAFC Marine Centre Shetland: http://www.nafc.ac.uk/Home.aspx


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 ›