Departing clouds and oncoming cure-alls

Thank you to Orkney Museum for the opportunity to show the Lift exhibition and to my fellow artists Ingrid Budge and Alan Watson.


I’m looking forward to showing with Ingrid again in August 2019 at The Exhibition Room, The Old Library, Kirkwall.

We are returning to the Flora Orcadensis theme and I will be concentrating on the ingredients of the Orkney Miracle Drink referred to in Rev Wallace’s Description of Orkney written in 1688 and published in 1693.
‘Commonly in the spring they (Orcadians) are troubled with an Augish Distemper which they call the Axes, but for this there are Quacks amongst them that pretend an infallible Cure by way of Diet-Drink, infusing a hotch potch of several plants (I suppose what are greenest at the time) in an English gallon of ale; the receipt is this:
They take of Buckhorn plantain, Water plantain, Lovage, wild Daisie, Rocket, roots of Elecampagne, Millefoil, roots of Spignell, Dandelyon, Parsley roots, Wormwood, Cumfrey, Tansey, Sea pink, Garden Angelica, and a kind of Masterwort, the imperatorie affinis; of all these they take a like quantity, to wit, about half a handful, and of this infusion they drink half a pint morning and evening. This is what they call Axes grass, and the old women talk wonders of it, pretending there are so many of the herbs good for the liver, so many for the head, and so many for the heart, spleen &c.’

I’m getting the identification books out so I can track down the 16 plants in this wild cure-all this summer.

elecampane polaroid circle cut out.jpg

Polaroid of Elecampane growing in Papay

The header photograph shows Hoy where I’ll be working every Friday from next week until October. Lovely job and grand commute on the half hour ferry from Stromness to Moaness. Looking forward to another season of exhibitions and events with the people of the North end of the island. Catch up with the project here.

Cloud spotters alert: the Stromness Museum Cloud Photography Competition, which I am delighted to be helping out with, closes 10 May. Entries (up to six) of Orkney clouds spotted over the last year are to be sent to