The romantic desire.
Travel to the edge of the world. In mind, the film that Michael Powell shot in Foula in 1937: the departure of the last inhabitants of an island.
The practical exercise.
Meet all the actors of a specific local sector: the wool of the Shetland Islands. The wool that scratched so many necks in the 60s.
The Scottish did not choose independence but they chose Europe. Then Brexit was voted. We landed in Glasgow where we spent the night in a perfect little room, in a pub with embossed wallpaper. The time it takes to miss a meeting (…) and we head off with the intention of returning one day. We don’t go west but to Traquair House (claimed to be the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland), to New Lanark (cotton mills and housing for the mill workers), to Edinburgh where we visited the Dovecot Tapestry Studio and unhappily wandered through woollen articles labelled with “Made in Scotland” and sold by young Chinese.
3 days have passed. We board in Aberdeen in the evening. Lerwick is a 12 hour boat ride.
We drive on the mainland and Yell in all directions. The landscapes, the lights, the bits of wool stuck to the ends of the tall grass, the open sea, the birds, the grocery shops in the middle of nowhere, the collections of the small museums, the arrival of the boats, their departure, the excessively strong coffee at the sailors bar, the family and benevolent atmosphere, the peat bogs, the Celtic presence, the sun and the sky. Everything. Even the reservoir perched on a small stony road.
Everyone knows everyone here. And commerce is a noble activity.
A broker buys the sheep-shearing. Much of the wool is spun in England. Then it comes back in the form of yarns. The balls are worked on scales and according to processes specific to each organisation or structure, from the small artisanal workshop through a cooperative network of knitters, two industrialised branches of the same family, a residence of artisans from all over the world or a production coordinated by a grandmother and her granddaughter. We discover a system of bosses, who protects the artisans from commercial outbidding.
We spend the night in a hanger, wonderfully lost in the middle of nature, in front of the sea, facing Foula….
Notes for later:
– Aberdeen is the petrol capital of Europe
– Rob Roy
– commemorative porcelain
– “we want to support small scale, local manufacturing, or distributed manufacturing, as an alternative to the consumption of mass manufactured products”
– return to Glasgow
– The Edge Of The World
– ask Mary for her roasted lamb recipe.
Mary Macgregor, Beatriz Garrigo, Olivier Roques Rogery, Ruth Jonquères d’Oriola, Catherine Maxwell Stuart
Manufacturers : JAMIESON & SMITH – SHETLAND WOOLBROKERS