In this first of a series of articles, we hear from Music graduate Alice Hayward who visited Sweeney’s Bothy in November 2019. Read on as she reflects on her time away, discussing the impact the Bothy has had on her personal and creative development.
“I enjoyed visiting the beaches, caves, woodland on Eigg, all features of the natural landscape that have been preserved through minimal human interference. I took advantage of the daylight as much as possible for explorations as it would get dark very early and the Bothy could feel quite claustrophobic and isolating. I took an acoustic guitar with me, partly to generate musical ideas but more so to pass time in the Bothy, and I was very grateful to have it.
Having to work hard for simple things, such as having to light up a fire to warm up my feet after a long day out in the cold, having to walk an hour to pick up simple groceries or call a loved one, or clamber over rocks and through muddy fields to find a beautiful view, make these things so much more worthwhile.
I ultimately believe that when we discuss how to be sustainable as individuals, we should be simplifying our lifestyles, reducing the number of things we purchase and dispose of on a daily basis. However to accomplish and sustain this, I think spending time reaping value from the things we own, whether that’s by finding new uses for things, repairing them or adapting them to suit our preferences, actually makes this process much easier and means we can get so much more gratification from those things.
The experience of the Bothy has really pushed me to work on these aspects of my lifestyle. I also felt I should simplify the process of writing music to emulate this experience. My goal was to write a piece of music that reflected the concepts of sustainability and captured some of Eigg’s landscapes.
I began with the most basic collection of musical ideas, all based upon slight semitonal shifts, and I listened to the ways the sounds interacted in order to find combinations that were harmonious. I wrote the piece for orchestra because I hoped to capture a sense of magnitude. I wanted to build these small fragments into these great crashing waves and towering cliffs reflecting what I saw on the island.
I aimed to write in a way that was an authentic response the surroundings and sound, having make no plans in terms of arrangement or structure beforehand, so I was not so consumed in constructing a narrative. The island was not a linear narrative but a collection of expansive harmonious landscapes, so that is what I created.”
Stay tuned for the next residency takeover articles to find out what other graduates got up to...