On a misty autumnal morning, a group of about ten of us met cars parked up, clad in wet weather gear. We walked along the single track road that leads through the little village of Nostie to the settlement of Avernish and continued along the road until tarmac turned into the track. The track took us to an area inhabited long ago called Rubha Scarabhaig. Here, hidden in a birch and hazel wood, is a row of ruined houses know as ‘the street’. It is said fifty-four families were cleared from here during the Highland Clearances. A more recent ruin is the bay windowed house belonging to Farquhar MacRae, the stonemason who had the vision to rebuild Eilean Donan Castle in the 1920s. You can see the castle from here.
As a filmmaker, I find much inspiration in my native area – the people, the landscape and the history. Landscape plays a part in all my films; sequences of framed textures to illustrate people’s connection to the land in Crofting’s New Voices, the Five Sisters of Kintail as sisters and as mountains in Hula, a dear stalker camouflaged against heather in Dear Dad or a character working in little wooden ticket booth set against sweeping mountains, who needs to break free both literally and metaphorically, in my upcoming short Slingshot. I have a feature film in development, Beyond the Silent Glen, about a young woman struggling with her identity as the Clearances sweep her glen. She sees a painter using a viewfinder to look at his subject. She mimics him, making one from sticks and looking through its borders at a landscape she knows so well, allowing the viewer to see it too. As a group we experimented with this, using our hands to create a frame, isolating parts of nature, looking differently.
We also walked blindfolded, in pairs, tuning into the sense of sound and touch by having sight removed, and then sharing how our interpretation of the landscape changed when we couldn’t see. The mist lifted and the most glorious autumn scenery was revealed. Sight upon sight of beautiful colours to keep us in awe as we walked the windy road back along this pretty Lochalsh inlet to our parked cars, hopefully seeing the landscape a little differently than when we set out.
For further info about my work or to watch some of my films please visit my website robinhaig.com
Tha Seo Math Dhuibh – Good for you
A partnership project with Aros Centre, Portree