A Place of Pillars

Ruth Barker performing Place of Pillars at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Ruth Barker’s Place of Pillars (2016) was conceived as a lament on the crofters’ uprising and commissioned as part of a wider collaboration between ATLAS Arts and the Staffin Community Trust to create a memorial to the uprising through local stories and shared memories.

Composed as a spoken word performance, and performed live in both Skye and in Edinburgh as part of the 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival, the work is available to listen to and download online. A poetic monologue, Ruth describes the artwork as: a slip shod stretch in unsuitable shoes, it is a meandering and unreliable ramble across the peat landscape of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula, from the township of Flodigarry (“the floating enclosure”), to the river Lealt (“the half stream”). It is a circuitous loop through the Staffin crofters’ uprising, past handmade dinosaurs, via biro marks on a folded map. It is a route of thought – not so much a train as a sheep track bumping its way between the lochans.’

With sparks of humour, familiar landmarks, and an idiosyncratic eye for detail, Ruth’s writing has a firm rooting in the day to day of contemporary Scotland.

To coincide with Barker’s live performances of Place of Pillars, the monologue was broadcast on Cuillin FM, a community radio station based in the Isle of Skye, on August 26 2016. Alongside the monologue, this special radio broadcast included an interview with the artist and ATLAS director Emma Nicolson in conversation with broadcast journalist Adam Gordon. The interview was recorded on July 29 2016, on the date of the initial performance in Portree.