Living on the hebridean island of Lewis I am in no doubt that I have moved to a foreign country. Living inside another culture is a privilege, I have always been interested in the daily detail and unexpected domestic differences in other people’s lives. Having moved from urban Brighton to rural Carloway there was a crunching of gears, in particular a poor fit between the skills I brought with me and the skills I needed in my new environment.
In the face of Lewissian Gneiss and the crashing waters of the Atlantic, particularly in the crofting lifestyle that I had arrived into I was and am still slightly adrift, especially in comparison to women who can trace their family locally back to the 12th century with little difficulty. I enjoy Edward Said’s writings about the value of an identity not linked to place, but it’s harder to walk it than talk it. “It is therefore, a source of great virtue for the practised mind to learn, bit by bit, first to change about in visible and transitory things, so that
afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his” Hugo of St Victor, Didascalion, quoted in Said, Edward W; Culture and Imperialism, 1993 Hugo of St Victor, Didascalion, quoted in Said, Edward W; Culture and Imperialism, 1993.
The previously unknown to me phenomenon of the ‘soup and pudding lunch’ provided imagery for me to explore my environment and the landscape in a way that opened up themes of domestic heroism and succour. Soup and pudding lunches are put on by the women of the community to raise funds for local or global charitable concerns. Surrounded by the majestic and imposing grandeur of the mountains, lochs and moors, I constructed wee landscapes in crème caramel, meringue and soup and made paintings from these models.