Gill Russell: Uamh / Cave

FInlay Room, RSA Lower Galleries

Free entry


For a 360° panorama of the show click here.


Gill Russell is the 2010 recipient of the Sabhal Mor Ostaig Residency Award, in association with the Royal Scottish Academy, Sabhal Mor Ostaig (Skye) and Creative Scotland.


This installation is based on a piece of Skye archaeology I came across while artist in residence at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye: 'Uamh an Ard Achadh' or 'High Pasture Cave. This underground natural limestone cave with its main chamber 'bone passage' and underground stream passage has been used since Mesolithic times. During the latter part of the Bronze Age and the following Iron Age it appears to have been used as a religious and/or votive site, with many of the finds being associated with the female side of life and tempting a connection to be drawn with a revered female deity -perhaps the Celtic Earth Goddess Brigid. The entrance to the cave may have provided access to the 'Otherworld', a liminal place in the landscape where people held special feasts, and made offerings to Celtic deities.

There are a number of low level light pieces and surround audio. The audio originates from sets of recordings myself and Norman Shaw made of musicologist John Purser. These took place deep inside the High Pasture Cave stream passage where John played various ancient instruments such as bronze horns and bone flutes and performed harmonic singing.

With special thanks to archaeologist Martin Wildgoose for generously giving his time, help and support.

Gill Russell, 2010


Artists Statement
I am interested in the relationship between the human and the cosmic. Cosmic time is on a vastly different scale to everything human and the very permanence of our cosmic 'landscape' links generations in our changing cultural landscape Contemplation of the human/cosmic juxtaposition alters our perception of time itself and kindle reflections on our finite life spans. These thoughts often lead to our desire to connect with that 'world beyond' in some meaningful way, whether by scientific exploration or through religious encounter. The special qualities of the landscape of the Gaeltachd, create an environment, both symbolic and mythological, that lends itself to this exploration.