English, Gàidhlig

Zenna Tagney – Blog 3

Posted on April 15th, 2016

Tha a’ ghreis agam air mhuinntireas san Eilean Sgitheanach air tighinn gu crìch a-nis agus tha mi air beagan ùine a chur seachad a’ meòrachadh air an turas agam.

Bha e mìorbhaileach a thighinn a dh’àite far a bheil a’ Ghàidhlig ga bruidhinn gu nàdarra a h-uile latha (bha mi fhìn a’ faireachdainn ciontach gum b’ fheudar dha daoine Beurla bhruidhinn air mo shon-sa). Tha mi den bharail gu bheil seo uabhasach cudromach, ma tha mion-chànan sam bith a’ dol a mhaireadh beò, gu bheil àiteachan mar seo ann, far an urrainn do chuideigin a bhith air a bhogadh sa chànan – ‘s bochd nach eil àite mar seo ann airson na Còrnais!

Bha e inntinneach dhomh, ged a tha fada a bharrachd luchd-labhairt aig a’ Ghàidhlig, agus gur e cànan ‘nas fhallaine’ a th’ innte, gum bi i cuideachd a’ strì ris na h-aon duilgheadasan ‘s a bhios a’ Chòrnais, a leithid beachdan nàimhdeil mu luach a’ chànain agus barailean eadar-dhealaichte mu fhoirmean ceart a’ chànain.

An dèidh dhomh sgeul a’ Chruidh Mhara a leughadh, fhuair mi lorg air barrachd eisimpleirean agus dreachan den sgeul, às an Eilean Sgitheanach agus eileanan eile. Ann an cuid de na dreachan seo b’ e an Crodh Sìth a bh’ air na beathaichean, no an Tarbh Uisge no an Crodh Eighre – (‘s dòcha bho fhacal ann an Seann Lochlannais a tha a’ ciallachadh ‘tràigh’ no ‘cladach’). Shaoil mi fhìn, a chionn ‘s gu bheil iomadh iomradh orra san dualchas, gum biodh eòlas aig a’ mhòr-chuid orra, ach nuair a chuir mi a’ cheist air muinntir an àite, ‘s gann gun robh fios aig duine sam bith aca agus cuimhneachan car ceòthach aig càch orra.

Bha mi airson rudeigin bhon àrainneachd ùisinneachadh agus chuir mi romham calg a’ Chruidh Mhara a dhèanamh de dh’fheamainn. Chuir mi beagan ùine seachad a’ cluich le diofar sheòrsachan agus an uair sin thòisich mi air trì beathaichean Mara a chruthachadh.

Chan eil còig seachdainean fada gu leòr airson pròiseact ealain mòr agus aig deireadh gnothaich b’ fheudar dhomh a h-uile càil a thoirt gu crìch gu cabhagach. Ach rinn mi a’ chùis aig a’ cheann thall. Anns an ath cheum den phròiseas, chì sinn ciamar a bhios na pìosan ag atharrachadh mar a bhios an fheamainn a’ tiormachadh, na dathan ag atharrachadh agus a h-uile sgath a’ crìonadh.

My residency on the Isle of Skye has now finished and I’ve had a little time to reflect on my experience.

It was so wonderful to step into a place where the default everyday language was Gaelic (I felt guilty for having to shift people back to English for my sake). I think it’s very important, if a minority language is to flourish, that there are places like this, where one can be fully immersed in the language – I wish there was a place like that for Cornish! It was interesting to note that although Gaelic has so many more speakers, and in this sense is a ‘healthier’ language, it still encounters many of the same issues as Cornish, such as cynicism about its continued value, and differences of opinion concerning correct linguistic form.

After first encountering the story of the Crodh Mara (‘sea cattle’), I found it relatively easy to dig up further examples and variations of the tale, both from Skye and from further afield in the Hebrides. In some of these other variations the creatures were called Crodh Sith (‘fairy/magic cattle’), Tarbh Uisge (‘water bull’), and Crodh Eighre (literally ‘ice cattle’, although ‘eighre’ possibly derives from an old Norse word meaning ‘beach’). Due to the apparent abundance of references to Crodh Mara, I assumed they would be quite well-known, but when I enquired with local people, most had never heard of them, and others had only a vague remembrance.

I wanted to use something from the landscape and decided to create the hair of the Crodh Mara from seaweed. I spent some time collecting and experimenting with different types of seaweed, and then set to work making three Crodh Mara.

Five weeks is really not much time for a large art project, and in the end it was a mad rush to get finished. But I just about managed it. The next part of the process will be to see how the pieces transform over time as the seaweed dries, changes colour, and starts to break down.

So long for now, see you at the festivals