The last six months of my artist attachment with Magnetic North have been hugely challenging, provoking and revealing from both a professional and personal perspective. My focus has been to observe the debates about rewilding and conservation in Scotland, from attending high profile discussions around issues of land management, to rewilding conferences and participating in highly divisive acts of conservation.
In September, I attended the Big Picture’s Rewilding Conference at the Macrobert in Stirling. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with people I’ve met on my journey, such as the Ramsay family from Bamff and members of Cairngorms Connect. I was delighted to realise I was sitting amongst high profile politicians, some of our youngest rewilding advocates and infamous
billionaires. This is all testament to the growing profile and momentum of the rewilding movement. However, in these situations, I always have my feminist killjoy sensibilities at the front of my mind, and I was hugely disappointed to observe that only one female speaker was included in the main program which was dominated by middle-aged white men. Incidentally, Lynn of Lynbreck Croft, our main female speaker, was hugely inspiring.
Shortly after this, I spent some time in the Outer Hebrides where I met with representatives of community owned lands in Lewis, from the Pairc Trust and the Galson Estate Trust. I’d been fortunate enough to hear Agnes Rennie at a provious event during the Edinburgh Book Festival, so was keen to hear more about Galson. Both estates provide hugely valuable insights into land reform and the challenges facing community owned land and I hope to connect with them again in the future.
Finally, at the beginning of November, I participated in a hugely divisive act of conservation, hind stalking. After organising a mini-residency in Banavie, I was determined to test my commitment to the principles of sustainability and conservation. I spent some time trying to identify a local estate whose conservation principles aligned with my own, and it was essential that I avoided any estates that participated in muirburn, grouse shooting, or raptor trapping. I was fortunate enough to find Corrour and their head stalker Allan, who kindly agreed to take me out. I won’t go into details about what occurred during the stalk, as this is something I’m still processing, but I can tell you that the day was filled with exceptional views, beautiful eagles, evidence of mountain hares, much talk about ecology and the famous Corrour train station which featured in the film Trainspotting.
I’m into my final months on attachment and it’s hard not to feel apprehensive about it coming to an end. However, my new focus is to begin exploring how all this research can be articulated in various performative forms and contexts. I’m excited to be carrying out some development in December with a handful of collaborators, before throwing myself into Magnetic North’s own Rough Mix in January 2020.
See you in the New Year!