Lift: Orkney skies

I’m working on a new exhibition with Alan Watson and Ingrid Budge for Orkney Museum. We have taken the title Lift, the Orkney dialect word for ‘sky’. The title brings the three of us together in a shared interest in Orkney skies and clouds.

I’ve made work for the show thinking about the potential for breath to be carried up on thermals and become part of a cloud. Like on cold mornings when our moist breath hangs like clouds in front of us then drifts up. The idea has been floating around my head since reading about the possibility in Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s The Cloudspotter’s Guide.

With this thought in mind I looked for clouds that suggested breath. Inverting the photographs, I introduced a shifted colour palette to focus more on their form. All except one of the clouds were photographed in February this year. The titles of the individual photographs are all words associated with breathing out.

Lift R Marr

The photographs are printed by Martin Findlay on photo rag with archival inks. Each photograph is an edition of 3. Framed in black, they are 70x50cm.

Lift will be on show at Tankerness House,Orkney Museum, Kirkwall from 7-28 April 2018.

Tom Muir, Exhibitions Officer at Orkney Museum, mentioned that the word Lift is used by Orcadian poet Robert Rendall is his dialect poem Celestial Kinsmen. I’m fortunate to have a copy of Rendall’s Orkney Variants, bought at Orkney Auction Mart the year I moved here, which contains the poem.

The winter lift is glintan doun

    Wi’ tullimentan stars besprent,

As were the very heavens abune

   Clean gyte wi’ frosty merriment,

   Their lowan e’en are taakan tent

O’ chiels like Mansie o’ the Bu’

   Whase days upon the land are spent

Ruggan wi’ Taurus and the Pleugh.

lift: sky / tullimentan: glittering / besprent: sprinkled / abune: above / gyte: daft / lowan: gleaming / tent: notice / cheils: fellows / Bu: farm name / ruggan: striving


DSC_8780neg copy_DSC9634PWAprilEDIT copy_DSC4500_DSC4496_DSC4484_DSC4456_DSC4453_DSC4417


The beautiful lifted polaroid triptych is by Ingrid Budge.