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The Pidgeon Cave Heather Bed
March, 2022, film and photographs
Last year I spent my month of March on the island of Gòmastra/Gometra, in solitude, a gift to my art practice.
Gòmastra is connected to the island of Ulbha by bridge, and Ulbha is where I found this pidgeon cave.
The cave is suspended above the tidal line, facing south with a view to Little Colonsay.
As soon as I saw it, I wanted to be in it, so gathered drift wood and drift rope and built a ladder.
I harvested the heather from the landscape high above the coastline, making sure to take bundles from different areas, never taking too much from one spot. I carried the heather down to the shore - which was quite a steep scramble. The pidgeon cave was narrow and oval. The sound of the waves would crash into this hollow and echo around your ears, consuming you, creating the most amazing acoustics. The floor and walls covered in pidgeon poo.
I carried the bundles of winter heather up to the cave and packed them tightly together, forming a mattress. This bed was so unbelievably comfortable. The musty smell of old heather with pidgeon, seaweed and salt. It was a delight to be infused with the landscape. An old friend.
I wrote a note, which I left behind - and I wonder whether anyone will ever find themselves wandering by this incredibly remote spot, and question what is at the top of that ladder.
I had wanted to build a heather bed for a while since reading the suggestion that people of the Scottish isles once built heather beds. Now I believe they would have. It was just so incredibly comfy.
Unfortunately I did not stay the night on my heather bed, as I did not have time to study the tides to make sure I’d be safe. There were very strong southerly winds. I plan to return.
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