It’s hard to turn around in northern Scotland without bumping into a church. They seem – to me at least – nearly as ubiquitous as the sheep. This is probably due to the numerous religious schisms that resulted in denominations of Catholic, Presbyterian, Free Church, United Free, Wee Free and even Wee Wee Free erecting or maintaining an increasing number of places of worship for an ever-decreasing population.
To be honest, I’m not sure which faith St Mary’s represented. Like so many churches in the area today, it is derelict, despite the fact that it sits prominently on the main street of Lybster village and quite close to the studios of North Lands Creative Glass.
Like many decommissioned church properties, its gutted shell was sold in recent years, but due to extreme costs, not yet refurbished. This has not stopped years of artists at North Lands from exploring its bones and leaving their delicate marks on its mysterious interior.
Like Harbour House, St Mary’s is a testament to the indomitable spirit of a place that, while tumbling down, still has the power to lift souls.
This June some of those souls looked at St Mary’s, as they did Harbour House, with an eye to “kiln-glass in the built environment”. Their visions ranged from topographic renderings to site-specific sound and light installations to adventuresome plots for community-building, all anchored in the conviction that art – and glass as an especially evocative medium – can reconnect the lost threads of time and place.
NEXT: The Artists-in-Residence