We’re waiting. They’re arriving. By trains, planes and automobiles. Fifteen residents from five countries are descending on the sleepy village of Lybster in the northernmost mainland county of Scotland.
That’s the thing about a residency held in a remote locale: it begins long before anyone arrives. I expect to hear stories of Gloria, Sarah and Kim driving north from Edinburgh, battling the Pentland Firth in their rental car, looking for refuge from the inevitable winds and rain. Finding lodging in some dodgy little B&B, falling in love with an eccentric innkeeper. Backing their manual shift right-hand drive rental car onto the ferry in a choppy harbor. They’ll do fine. And they’ll get to Lybster with stories.
Where they’ll collide with other stories. Of fellow residents, like Steve and Carmen, whose journeys were punctuated with time in Edinburgh on the trek north. Of rain-soaked days spent stumbling into Goldsworthy boulders tucked into trees at Jupiter Artland. Of visits to the Sugimoto exhibit at the National Gallery.
Of course, much of that is just guessing on my part. Imagination. Based on my own experience and stories shared with others. I doubt that I’d love this place as much if it were an easy trek.
It rarely is. But it’s equally rarely a trip without adventure. This kind of journey is essential to clear the head, to put physical and notional distance between oneself and the routines of daily living. Caithness, Scotland is mind-clearing land.
So what will the residents find on arrival in this northern outpost? This year’s residents, like last year’s, will explore case studies on the topic of Kiln-Glass in the Built Environment.
In preparation, the residency’s site coordinator Karlyn Sutherland has scouted properties and people to add to last year’s program. A couple of days ago she took me out to visit the small cottage of Achnacraig that sits at the top of a long field sloping into the North Sea. Like Harbour House and St. Marys, the abandoned, once-thatched croft fairly sings of its past life.
The residency has yet to begin and I’m already sliding downhill into that “still, small voice of calm”….
….but first to the Bayview. And more Travel Stories!