The Design (I)

sketch for Bothan Shuibhne, AF, 2013 / / the thorn //memory of Suibhne’s spear and the harsh brang of battle is the riddle for our design// to resolve circle poem, Alec Finlay, 2005 / / how shall we bring//the thorn ///into translation / how shall the sharpness//& aggression of the thorn thicket//come into a settled configuration that will flower//as dwelling / / ///WARD & WELCOME / /////////blackthorn / / sketch for Bothan Shuibhne, AF, 2013 / / sketch a spicule//its sharpness will give severe offense to health & safety regulations / the thorn marks//Suibhne’s aloneness which inspires us ///////////////////////& challenges us / / sharing the bothy//creatively heals this sense//of isolation / / despite what thorns represent it was never our intention to make a hedgehog hut a form of schiltron / / / / ///HAWTHORN / //////schiltron / / the feisty folk of the thistle borrowed from nature / the schiltron//which the Scots armies were famed for//stretching back to the Picts / a compact bristling mass of spears and sharpened stakes//schiltrons epitomize the grim resilience of folk who had less//heavy horse knights//the tanks of their day ////////////than their foes / / an eye-witness at Bannockburn describes a rectangular schiltron armed with pikes & axes advancing /////////////like a thick-set hedge / / such a hostile prickily bothy wasn’t our aspiration//nevertheless military themes endure//in contemporary survivalism outcasts of the cabin / ////(a theme discussed by the American poet Susan Tichy ////in her post on the mountain huts of Colorado) / / / / the thorn trees morphology is torn with intensity / a form of wildness//characterized by a seemingly chaotic//dense ////patterned structure //////an arrow shower //////a needled bower / / the thorn has it’s reason / it grows through a series of internalized//rejections / / //////////the thorn proceeds //////////by throwing itself //////////out of symmetry / /poem-label, Alec Finlay, 2013 / / we began our design looking at the thorn considering the trees form getting lost in the thicket / / ///////T /////H//H ////O////O ///R//////R //N////////N / / an early sketch shows thorns as arches like crossed spears or a pair of whale tusks / a cruciform to cradle the shelter capsule / suspended above the ground the floating hut would recall Suibhne’s levitation at the battle of Magh Rath / / //when the giddiness //came over Shuibhne //intoxicated with horror, //panic, dismay, fear, //flightiness, giddiness, & terror //his joints a shaking mass //& he rose into the air / / ////R ///O/O //N///N //A///A //N///N / / Suibhne’s thorn-filled glen recalls the scene of battle so the suspended hut could also echo//Ronan’s bell / / sketch of thorn-pilotis for Bothan Shuibhne, AF / / drawing the thorn over and over again the blackthorn’s profusion reduced to a single articulation /a figure / /a thorn motif that Iain could translate into architecture / / //////////////////////////////////////////////////////T//////T /////////////////////////////////////////////T/////H//H ////////////////////////////////////////////////H//O /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////R /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////N / / / the working design raised the simplified thorn turning its points skywards away from delicate flesh / / the thorn column//embedded in the slope of the roof / in some sketches//thorns stuck through the building’s fabric / / thorn-pilotis, architectural rendering, 2013 / / the thorn had found a purpose as pillar, or pilotis which Iain described in his first computer drawing / / /////////LOOSE SKY /////////TAUT STEEL / //////////////stele / / we discussed how//our thorn supports might have a bearing on//the hut’s final built form / the thorn column//suggested extending the angled roof//outward beyond the bothy walls? / a space began to open //a verandah within which the thorn-pilotis //would hover / / I thought back to visits a0t the hostel on Berneray where on sunny days people would laze in the generous stone mantles of the blackhouse windows sheltered from the breeze / / /////////AS FAR AS //THE MOMENT SEES / /////////////view / / / /////////AS FAR AS //THE MOMENT SEAS / /////////////blue / / / / in a small hut like Sweeney’s a verandah deepens the sense of being//in the wilds / the platform//creates a zone that is part-interior//being sheltered & at the same time part-of-the-surroundings / / when the sun shines people can use the verandah as a workplace / / we began to consider the threeness//of the interior / / ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////work / / /////////////////////////////////////////////////////live/////////sleep / / other ideas began to crystallize as poems & sketches / / three thorns are decided on each one defined by its purpose / / / threeness//of the//thorn / / ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////roof / / ////////////////////////////////////////////////////bed///////shower / / / Bothan Shuibhne, Iain MacLeod, 2013 the shower thorn is visible / / Bothan Shuibhne, Iain MacLeod, 2013 showing the original thorn pilotis / / the canopy floats a hands-width from the walls / / Bothan Shuibhne, Iain MacLeod, 2013 / / / / /////////FLOATING BED / /////////////thorn-tree / / / text: AF images: AF & IM / / Bothan Shuibhne | Sweeney’s Bothy / Alec Finlay & The Bothy Project commissioned as part of Creative Scotland’s ‘Year of Natural Scotland 2013’ / Sweeney's Bothy: Introduction Some Huts

Sweeney’s Bothy: Introduction

Sweeney's Bothy mid-build, December 2013, photograph BN / Welcome to Bothan Shuibhne (Sweeney’s Bothy). The project is a collaboration between The Bothy Project (Bobby Niven and Iain Macleod), and artist-poet Alec Finlay. We are also working closely with Alex Webb Allen and Luke Allan, as well as a host of contributors. / Together we are going to design and construct a modest zero-carbon dwelling, a bothy, on the Isle of Eigg, off the West coast of Scotland. Once it is complete, towards the end of the summer, Bothan Shuibhne will host creative residencies, with a focus on wilderness ecology. / Over the course of 2013 a host of collaborators will add to the project, and each of them will publish a post on this blog. / Before we finalize the plans for the building – and before we start ordering materials and taking the handles of the wheelbarrow in our hands – we will share some reflections on what such a bothy might be, or become, drawing on hut traditions, the thoughts of fellow poets, artists, and architects, as well as the words and images of residents at the first bothy that Bobby and Iain completed, at Inshriach, in the Cairngorms. / / Simple dwellings enact a vision; they may, over time, gather a significance that extends beyond their walls. Bothan Shuibhne is one suggestion of what a hut-bothy-residency can be, in Scotland, today. / / The original sketch that I submitted to Creative Scotland, to encapsulate the proposal, is nothing more than a rubber stamp defining a walled form, with a suggestion of surrounding thorns. The bothy begins as a frame in and for the wilderness, as every hut is. The sketch catches the gist of Sweeney’s bed in the thorn trees. / Over the past few months Iain and I have worked from that initial poetic image:

Some Huts

Waiting for Spring, Carl Erik Strom, 1970 / / what is a hut? / a hut is four thin walls nailed around a stove / / a hut is set in the fret of green woods / / a cabin is spied on the wild-hills- ///ide / / a hut is a shed & a bed / / a hut is a few planks nailed to some peeling doors kept out the back in some folks' ///gardens / / a hut is make-do-&-mend – it grows in an organic fashion as a collage of accretion ///& borrowing / / a hut is a second home which there is no shame ///to own / / a hut is centred on square windows each of which is taken care of by a spider & cobweb / / a hut is a sounding- board for rain which will do you no harm if you remember to spoon out the guttering / / a hut is an ante-garden / / a hut is framed wilderness / / a hut is tree high dissension / / in Norway it seems each field is anchored by a hut / / in Scotland where we are so proud of our welcome huts have regrettably ///not been … / /Carbeth, Gerry Loose & Morven Gregor poem-label AF, photograph Morven Gregor, 2011 / / Carbeth / ‘A place of solitude set among trees. Things come to rest here.’ / ///– Gerry Loose / / just a wee felt-roofed hut, a shame to stay inside but there is rain / wisps of white smoke rise straightforwardly from the chimley, yaffles try to laugh their way in / there's lovage and angelica too strong tasting for deer or rabbits / last year’s tansy buttons that fashion this spring’s brown / Dumgoyach seems a few steps away but I'll just sit on this handy log drinking smoky tea and wait a while for the windfalls / / composed after a visit to Gerry & Morven, for the road north; Gerry & Morven are contributing their own post on hut culture and wild food, to be published shortly on Bothan Shuibhne. Carbeth: the road / / Prospect Cottage, courtesy of Ron Strutt / / Prospect Cottage / Jarman’s neat hut on the borderless shingle jut of Dungeness / in the shadow of the power station in the knowledge of death Derek began to garden / each summer that passes teaches which flora will endure biting northerlies / sea kale & sea thistle horned poppy, night- shade & valerian / lavender & santolina nodding their colours amid the salt- tangle of wire, rust bloom & flint / Derek is gone his garden is growing / / hut of shadows, Chris Drury, 1997 / / hut of shadows / in the hut of shadows one whitewashed wall reveals the slow flicker of the sea’s everyday beauty / the construction enacts a great leap back, circling through 6,000 years of human consciousness / we enter a darkness that we recognize from the chamber at Bharpa Langais / / this poem was also composed, with Ken Cockburn, after a visit to North Uist, for the road north. Bharpa Langais is a Neolithic chambered cairn, similar inside to Drury’s construction.