(2015) Composition, poem-score, live performance, set, props and film
Commissioned by ATLAS Arts, Women of the Hill is a song-cycle for three female performers, responding to the archaeology and topography of High Pasture Cave, an iron-age sacred site dedicated to a matriarchal culture on the Isle of Skye.
At sunset on Samhain (31st October), at the hidden entrance to a complex, limestone cave-system, a trio of female performers guided the audience across the threshold, on a song-journey through three worlds: Past, Present and Otherworld. Conceived as a contemporary rite, Women of the Hill summoned the mysterious young woman interred at the site; the women who ground grain, spun yarn and watched over the hearth; and the female deities – Bride and Cailleach – who, according to myth, do battle each year at the meeting of the seasons.
The performance and resulting film, is a work of contemporary archaeo-acoustics, utilizing natural echo-phenomena and mnemonic topographies – the land encoded in the song, the lore embedded in the land – making visible what has lain hidden and audible what has been forgotten.
Image credits: (1) Simon Groom (2-4) Laurence Winram