Zenna’s final report from Skye

Posted on April 20th, 2016

Ow godrigans yn Enys Sky re worfennas lemmyn hag yth esa boghes termyn rag daswel ow thermyn.

Yth o marthys dhe gamma yn tyller mayth o an kynsa yeth Gwydhalek (yth esa pegh dhymm rag herdhya tus kewsel Sowsnek ragov vy).  My a dyb bos meur dhe les, mar kwra yeth vyghan tevi, y tal bos leow avel omma, mayth hyllir beudhi y’n yeth yn tien – yma hwans dhymm bos le an par ma rag Kernewek!  Yth o dhe les yn despit moy kowsoryon dhe Wydhalek, hag yn unn fordh yeth ‘moy yagh’, hwath hi a wra dos er bynn keth kaletteryow avel Kernewek, kepar ha dout a-dro hy bri ow pesya, ha dyffransow yn tybyans a-dro dhe furv yethek eun.

Wosa kynsa prys dos er bynn hwedhel a’n Crodh Mara (‘bughes an mor’), y kevis vy dre vras es yw dhe gavos ensamplow furvow erel a’n hwedhel, dyworth Sky ha pella a-ves yn Hebridies.  Yn nebes furvow an kreadoryon yw henwys Crodh Sith (‘bughes poblow teg/hudel’), Tarbh Uisge (‘tarow dowrl’), ha Crodh Eighre (a styr bughes rew’, kynth yw ‘eighre’ dyworth ger Norsek Koth gans styr ‘treth’).  Awos bos kals a gampollansow yn kever

Crodh Mara, y prederis ag abos aswonys yn ta, mes pan wrug vy govyn orth tus teythyek, na wrug brassa rann klewes y’ga hever, hag erel gans marnas remembrans gwann.

My a vynnsa usya neppyth dyworth an tirwel hag yth erviris vy gul blew an Crodh Mara dyworth gommon.  My a spenas termyn hir lowr kuntelles hag arbrofya gans eghennow dyffrans gommon, ha dalleth ober dhe wul tri Crodh Mara.

Nyns yw pymp seythen termyn lowr rag ragdres art bras, hag yn diwedh, yth o fyskans gocki rag y worfenna.  Mes my a’n gwrug.  Nessa rann an argerdh a vydh fatel wra an rannow treusfurvya dre dermyn ha gommon sygha, treylya liw, ha dalleth pedri.

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 be 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.