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.