This time it’s contemporary art, Kate and me in bonnie Cupar. Cupar being a hop, skip and a jump (over the Tay) from Dundee. The Arts Festival was from October 5 to October 17, 2013. Kate and I were there on the opening weekend. A month later, I’m walking the streets via Google, and viewing the exhibits again thanks to a collection of images that artists have kindly sent me. And, yes, I’m writing. In the present tense? I’ll see how it goes.


I’ll start with the Bonnygate Bakery, a pop-up café where the coffees come from all over the coffee-beaning world. While buying our order, Kate established that the café has been built out of what was originally a garage at the bottom of the garden of a house on Bonnygate, a house where two lecturers from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art live, Polly Duplock and Graham Pullin. That’s me in the foreground of the above photograph, with Kate sitting alongside, perhaps studying the Festival map that Graham designed. What a lovely long day stretched out in front of us! A complicating factor was that I had a UTI and knew I would need to visit the loo every half-hour or so. I tried to put that to the back of my mind. Something that is still not easy to do sitting here at my desk on the 6th of November, several weeks into a course of antibiotics.


From the café and car park in the bottom right corner of the above map (note the presence of Victorian public toilets) we walked to venue 38 in the top left corner, where Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen were showing a work in their ongoing ‘Museum of Loss and Renewal’. In the front room of a residential house was a massive (and exquisite) cardboard box in which lay every pair of shoes that Tracy and Edwin’s daughter, Esme Amelia, has worn so far in her bright and blossoming young life.

Screen shot 2013-11-05 at 19.27.33

In the box, a clock ticks. Of course, it does, we are dealing - every second of every day - with the running down, the skipping away, of time. My mother went into a care home five years ago, with a pair of black leather shoes that she would wear when she was zimmering along the corridors. Last year, the home told me that the black shoes were rubbing against the skin of Mum’s feet and they suggested the kind of footwear that would be most suitable for her now that she was no longer walking at all. The bootee slippers have a strip of velcro fastening them. So that if a shoe comes off as I am transferring Mum from wheelchair to car, or vice versa, then its pretty easy to slip it on again. In my mind, I add Mabel’s last pairs of shoes - sad as they are - to Esme Amelia’s burgeoning collection of ballet slippers, trainers and wellingtons. A museum of loss and renewal sure enough.

Tracy Mackenna runs the MFA course at Dundee and Edwin Janssen is a principle tutor on it. And, as it happens, Liz Skulina, whose house this is, was on the MFA a few years ago, when she was taught by the pair. Liz shows us the apple tree growing in the garden, the source of the green apples that are dotted around the second room devoted to the work, which is called
The Story of the Girl and the Apple Tree. The story is printed out as a text on a folded sheet of A3 paper. Unfortunately, we are chatting too much to take in the text. This is the kind of compromise that, it has to be accepted, we will be making all day long. There is no chance of the work that we see being engaged with fully and objectively, whatever that means. I have to accept that there is little chance of even a single artist being pleased with what I write in connection with his/her/their work. Ah well, that’s just the way it has to be sometimes.

Liz had a residency at Hospitalfield a few years ago, as I did this summer, and she leads us into another room in her house where she shows us images of armchairs she embellished and installed at Hospitalfield. This particularly interests Kate, as she is thinking of creating two InterG (InterGenerational, InterGendered) seats, InterG being the new G-PLan. One seat for her grandmother, Gaga, who died in 1974, and one for her father, George, who died a month ago. Liz, who also has work in this year’s Cupar Arts Festival, at Hill of Tarvit, Mansionhouse, tells us we must visit the furniture recycling warehouse in Cupar, which is a charitable initiative. Will we have time to do that? We can do what we like. This may be the Cupar Arts Festival but its also a precious weekend in our ongoing engagement with life.

So we go straight to the Castle Furniture Project and within moments I’m being asked to consider this object:


“It’s perfect for Gaga’s chair,” says Kate. “She used to like furniture like this. Repro and a bit kitsch!”

“I thought you wanted a pair of chairs.”

“So did I. But I already have ideas for this one.”

“What ideas?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

Back to the Bonnygate Bakery for sustenance. Both Kate and I go for borscht and home-made bread, which picks us up ready for Jonathan Baxter’s event at the YMCA:
Who Am I and What Is Our Fate? Who is Jonathan Baxter? He is a Newport-based artist who, according to Kate, contributes challenging and inspiring inputs to the MFA course at Dundee. Here he has covered a room with straw and filled it with religious and personal iconography. Could this be the very manger that Christ was born in? Albeit transported from Bethlehem to Cupar?

Alas, I’ve missed the chance to have a quiet look around the space on my own, because Jonathan is in here and he’s TAKING OVER. The stream of words that emerge from his mouth suggest that he’s playing the part of an analyst’s subject while we - the five friends and acquaintances of his that make up his audience - are the analysts. We are invited to speak, but only if we go along with our allotted roles. Of course, this shuts us up. Jonathan tells us about Father Patrick and his mother, though it’s not as simple as that. There are academic references, in particular the book
Theology, Psychoanalysis and Trauma by Marcus Pound; there is art speak; there are red herrings. YMCA: a Young Man’s Christian Associations... I’m aware that Kate is discreetly filming at this point. She has not been put off by the tongue-(in-cheek)-lashing that Gerry O’Brien (left of image below) received when he had the audacity to create a ‘screen memory’ with his camera.

Screen shot 2013-10-20 at 21.51.43

Jonathan keeps expressing his disappointment that we, his analysts, are not picking up on hesitations, double entendres, repetitions. It’s as if he’s playing Just a Minute, only the single minute of non-stop talking goes on for fifty. In the midst of the sermon (for that is, at least in part, what it is) I’m invited to partake of communion. From where she sits in the straw, Kate is still filming, of course.

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 14.25.32

The holy wine moves from soap dispenser to phial with a little encouragement from the artist’s finger. Jonathan asks me to screw the top on my three little squirts of Christ’s blood, but I choose to drink it instead. What the hell am I doing? I’ve got a UTI and alcohol is a bladder irritant in such circumstances. At least the artist doesn’t have a problem with me going against his instruction. Nor does he have a problem with innocent visitors trying to enter the space when his event is in progress. It’s just more for him to go with the flow of. More for him keep under his obsessional control. More talk of Father Patrick and Jonathan’s mother, then he is saying something potentially revealing about his relationship with his own father (not Father Patrick, though the man was a minister or a vicar) when the session is brought to an abrupt end by the unforgiving clock. Christ, what do we do now without our leader to do our thinking and feeling, and, yes, our bleeding, for us?

Kate is keen to experience
Not My Tomorrow by Pernille Spence. So we walk from the YMCA down Bonnygate to the Corn Exchange. Pernille lectures in the Art and Media department at DJCAD. She used to run a course at the college but prefers to be working directly with students, a decision that has Kate’s respect. A sign tells us that visitors are led into the installation blindfold, two at a time. While waiting our turn, I step across the road and photograph the Corn Exchnage Tower where, possibly, we are about to be taken.


With blindfolds on, we (I presume Kate is treated in the same way by her guide) are asked to turn around until we become disorientated. I’m led uphill, then through a door, then into a lift. We go up in the lift then I am asked to step through a door, walk along a corridor and enter a room. Then I’m told I can take off my blindfold. So that’s what I do. And this is what I see.


It takes a while to work out what’s happening. In the middle of the room is a black cube. Someone, no doubt the artist, is within that cube writing on the walls. No, not writing, scraping the dark paint off the glass walls. Well, it’s not that simple, in that some of the walls are black, yet when you look at them from the other side of the cube - standing close to it so that you can see through the scraped out lines - you see that there is more writing on what must be the inside of two layers of glass wall. During all this, the occupant of the cell can be glimpsed, but one doesn’t look too close for fear of disturbing her concentration. Or at least I don’t.

While waiting downstairs, I picked up that Pernille Spence is spending up to 14 hours a day inside this small empty cell. On one wall of the cube, there is a list of guidelines as to how to survive the experience of solitary confinement. Taking control of your space is high on the list. Realistic thinking rather than positive thinking is also up there. But most of the patches of marks are dedicated to individuals who have undergone loss of liberty. His or her name is scraped out in capital letters. A concise account of their story follows. And then a count of their time in solitary. The five bar gate is a major motif of this work. I’m supposing that keeping track of the days you spend in a cell is one of the ways of coping with imprisonment. Taking control of your time as well as your space, in whatever simple ways you can. Trying to remember all the pairs of shoes you had ever worn, that would be one way of using up time and controlling space. Once a pair had been brought back to life in as many qualities as you could remember, the shoes would be carefully put somewhere in the room, to be re-imagined every time a new pair was added. Could you or I do that? Or would it be as doomed a venture as building a castle out of cards?


Kate joins me. Apparently, she could only walk very slowly while blindfold. She is moved by the installation as I expected she would be. We talk in whispers. Out of respect for the artist who is trying to make her day tolerable. Out of respect for the victims of solitary confinement, all of whom must suffer severely over the days, months, years...

Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, scrape... Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, scrape... Yes, I dare say one might get into a rhythm.

Too glib, let’s try again.

Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, scrape... Suffer, suffer, suffer, scrape, scrape... Suffer, suffer, scrape, scrape, scrape... Suffer, scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape... Scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape.

Sorted? Well, let’s see.

Scrape, scrape, scape, scrape, scrape... Scrape, scrape, scarpe, scrape, suffer... Scrape, scrape, scrape, suffer, suffer... Scrape, scrape, suffer, suffer, suffer... Scrape, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer... Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer.

Tentative conclusion? Distraction from the ordeal is the best you can hope for. But you have to work at that, and, even then, you can’t expect to achieve distraction all the time. I walk round and round the cube. One man, HERMAN WALLACE, died on October 4th of this year, after spending more than four decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana, USA. The mind of the free man - or woman - boggles, hopefully in sympathy and humility.

When we get out of there - again via blindfolds and guards - I ask my guide if the artist gets food and/or water. No, she doesn’t. I’m about to ask if she has access to a toilet, but I stop when I realise that would be my UTI talking. Besides, I recall from the list of guidelines that a person in solitary confinement should, if necessary, designate a specific corner of their cell for such a purpose. We make our way to the Hub, where I’ve already used the facilities twice so far this somewhat demanding yet strangely exhilarating day.

On our way there, we see Morgan Cahn in front of us, pounding the pavements of Cupar, energy and brightness exuding from her backpack. She helped light up Kate’s first year on the MFA, though Morgan was on the final year of her BA. “Oh, hi guys,” she greets us in her usual cheery manner “How’s it going?”


We tell her how it’s going as witnesses to other people’s traumas, both artists and prisoners of conscience. Then we ask her what she’s up to. She is me(and)ering, if I’ve got the brackets in the right place, which I haven’t. Me(a)nder is Morgan’s project. She’s walking around the town with all sorts of threads (any colour), needles (any size), tools and equipment about her person. The idea is that if a citizen of Cupar has a repair job that needs doing, be it physical, spiritual or conceptual, Morgan the meandering mender (no muddling or mendacious meddling) may be able to help out.


Quite a lonely occupation, I would have thought. Luckily, Morgan both likes her own company and responds well to the presence of her fellow human beings. My God, there are some strong individuals doing their thing in Cupar today. All the artists we’ve encountered would seem to have a moral vision and a determination to bring that vision into being. Lucky old Huntly! Woops, I’ve said Huntly instead of Cupar. Maybe I’ve made the mistake because I know that Aberdeenshire town is blessed with Deveron Arts and I’m beginning to realise that Cupar is blessed with the Cupar Arts Festival. Oddly enough, Huntly was further blessed with the presence of Morgan recently, but something went wrong with her shadow curatorship and she had to pull out of that for the sake of her health. Her sanity or her health? Perhaps it comes to the same thing.

The Festival Hub is at Castlehill Hall, another fine old building where David Lyndsay’s satirical play
The Three Estates was first performed back in 1552. Several artists have interesting work here, but the work that captures my attention in the context of the way my day is shaping up is the piece below by Sarah Gittins. Sarah was in the audience for the event of Jonathan Baxter, her partner. And JB would seem to be in this black-and-white print which is of a Cupar street scene. It’s good when partners support each other’s work. Jonathan and Sarah, Kate and me, Tracy and Edwin. And I dare say Pernille Spence has a supportive other half (the guide did say something about his turning up at the end of the day to help her recover). And I know Morgan Cahn is in a strong relationship.


But Kate and my partnership must break up, at least for an hour. I want to follow up on Sarah’s drawings, using the map in the leaflet I’ve picked up, which tells me that the drawing in the Hub is a copy of one of six that are located in situ on the streets of Huntly (damn, I must stop doing that). While Kate wants to catch up with the work of several other Dundee artists she has an evolving relationship with.

The leaflet tells me that the series of prints seeks to bring the ‘over there’ of environmental issues into the ‘here and now’ of everyday awareness. What could be simpler, but does it work? Well, I’ve wandered along Crossgate and crossed the river via the South Bridge. There should be a print called
Incredible Edible Cupar around here. And, in fact, I see it attached to railings close to the spot from which the image was made.

Incredible Edible Cupar

The planting in Cupar is full of flowers but it’s been portrayed (the only way in which the actual scene would seem to have been amended) as a patch of vegetables, as would be the case in Todmorden, Yorkshire. Kate and I have friends that live in Tod and so we’re aware that the town’s green spaces are devoted to the growing of vegetables which people are free to make use of, as and when. It’s an enlightened initiative, allowing people to hold their heads up in the light of the steps they are taking towards eating five portions of fruit and veg a day, and towards reducing the size of Tod’s carbon footprint. (See the pedestrian in the above image, let’s call him JB, taking enormous strides towards a healthy lifestyle yet leaving ever-so-shallow carbon footprints as he floats along.)

Huntly (population 4,000), Todmorden (pop. 12,000) and Cupar (pop. 9,000), three towns, where healthy initiatives have been launched. Kate and I live in Blairgowrie (pop. 8,000), twenty miles west of Dundee into Perthshire, and things are not so healthy there. I’ve always found it strange that such a wonderful mixed landscape should go hand in hand with the obesity that’s exhibited by a proportion of the local population. What is the explanation? The people of Blairgowrie do not walk in the countryside. Why not? Walking in the country is essentially a middle class pursuit and the population of our town, as seen pushing trolleys around in Tesco’s and eating and drinking in Wetherspoon’s, is not middle class. (Hang on a minute, I can be found pushing a trolley around Tesco’s and dining at Wetherspoon’s on a weekly basis. It’s me that’s been putting on weight recently.) I suspect we in Blair could do with something like the Walking Institute that Deveron Arts has set up in Huntly. Alas, the phrase Incredible Edible Blairgowrie has different connotations to Incredible Edible Todmorden.

This summer, Kate and I initiated BCCA (Blairgowrie Centre for Contemporary Art). Lesley Kamel and Tara Chaloner who have ambitious and life-enhancing work in the Cupar Arts Festival, were one of three artist groups who undertook 24-hour residencies in our summerhouse. What has that done for the people of Blairgowrie? Nothing much as yet, though we have a friend, Ricky, who will always remember the afternoon he spent Scottish country dancing in our back garden, at the bequest of artist Heather (Mc)Lane, after which he talked about Utopia, how close we are to it here in Blair, if only we would open our eyes and minds to the possibilities. Next summer we may (or may not) move things up a gear. That all depends on Kate’s plans as she nears the end of her MFA. I’m happy as long as I’m putting a lot of my energies into writing. If she wants to point me in a certain direction then that will influence what I write about.

As I make my way towards another in the series of prints that makes up Sarah Gittins’
Weather Report, my eye is caught by a big number 7. Kate and I had marked out that venue as a must-see earlier on. So I go in to The Old Prison Cells, at the back of Cupar Sheriff Court, where Carolyn Scott is there to introduce her work. Her story is fascinating. Carolyn was doing the MFA at Dundee in 2010 at the same time as Michele Caira. Michele didn’t finish his course, first, because he got ill, and second, because he was arrested for drug offences and sent to prison for eight years. Carolyn has visited MIchele in prison, with film maker Andy Sim, and this installation is the result of that enterprise.

There, in the image below, is Michele, former body builder. The film was made at H.M. Prison Glenochil, but it’s been installed here in Cupar’s Old Prison Cells, which are about to be demolished, I’m told. Oh, so Cupar is allowing one of its irreplaceable old buildngs to be destroyed? On the face of it, that’s bad. But let me focus on the present moment, since it’s obviously a special one. Another artist. Another prisoner. Only this time the prisoner is the artist. I mean this time the artist really is the prisoner.


The main film is shown simultaneously on four small CCTV monitors in one of the cells. So one sits down on a chair and watches. The first scene I observe - rather tensely, feeling observed myself - features a member of staff talking about Michele Caira’s approach to the art class that was given in prison. Apparently, he was more or less the only inmate who was interested in anything other than copying favourite images. Well, it doesn’t surprise me that MIchele showed a bit more creativity than that. If he’d said on the first week of the MFA that he wanted to copy PIcasso’s blue period down to the slightest detail, I’m sure Tracy Mackenna or Edwin Janssen would have encouraged him to find ways to move his practice on. Though I doubt if the advice would have involved drug deals and barbed wire perimeter fences.


When Michele himself is interviewed, he discloses that he doesn’t know where he is. He thinks his cell faces Stirling but is not sure. That echoes the geographical confusion that Pernille Spence creates for the visitor in
Not My Tomorrow. For the prisoner to know where he or she is, must anchor them to reality somehow. Therefore, the oppressive regime tries to pull up such anchors. But that would suggest the prison regime in the UK is harsher than it is. The prison governor at Glenochil is interviewed as well, and he talks sympathetically about Caira’s case though he makes it clear that the resources of the prison need to be distributed equally between all the prisoners. And that means much investment has to be put into basic literacy schemes. Nevertheless, the prison governor commissioned Caira to create two large murals for the prison. Carolyn Scott has borrowed one of them for her installation at Cupar.


I’m pretty uncomfortable with the painting. But then a prison corridor is not the ideal place to view work. Nor is a prison the ideal place to make work. One doubts that MIchele Caira has been able to benefit from much in the way of enlightened tuition or group crits, though I could be wrong. If Michele was sentenced to eight years in 2010, then presumably he would be available for early release in 2014. Will DJCAD welcome him back with open arms (and minds) on the MFA? Deirdre Robertson rejoined the course in January 2013, after having fallen ill in the middle of her course a year or two before, and she successfully graduated this summer. But I think that is beside the point. Let me put it this way:

‘Scrape, scrape, scrape, suffer, suffer.’


Why is the inmate suffering? To go from being so free - enrolled on a post-graduate course of his choice at a university - to being so constrained - albeit we’re not talking solitary confinement - must be tough.

‘Suffer, suffer, scrape, scrape scrape.’

But what can you do? You can keep going, hard though that must be.

I leave Carolyn Scott and Michele Caira to it, and take to the streets. As I’m walking along I’m thinking about those individuals, those free men and women, sometimes artists, who choose to put constraints on their own freedom in order to help others escape their captivity. Russell Hoban’s masterly novel,
Riddley Walker, comes to mind in this context. I mean the line that haunts Riddley at one stage:

‘Never did the good luck brother,
Turn around to help the other

How moving is that! The urge to recognise the rights of your brother, your sister, your neighbour, your fellow citizen, your fellow sentient being. It’s the crux of all warm-hearted politics. I suspect Pernille Spence and Carolyn Scott - indeed most of the artists whose work I’ve seen today - are ‘good luck brothers’. I mean, of course, good luck brothers that
have turned around to help the other.

I want to find the actual site of
Electric Shop, the print by Sarah Gittins that’s also showing in the Festival Hub. That involves walking along East Burnside. The print is stuck on a wall there and I like the way that the stone’s grainy texture emerges through the surface of the paper. The artist is not imposing herself on the town but teasing out it’s underlying qualities!

Electric Shop-1

But the actual site of the image is around the corner, on Lady Wynd. I walk back and forth between the electric shop and
Electric Shop and can report that the live shop window, like the window in Sarah’s drawing, does indeed contrast the sale of ‘banned’ bulbs with an ad for a photo voltaic panel fitter. However, the shop is now out of 150 watt bulbs of the old-fashioned kind. It brings to mind the mess that the UK’s energy policy has got itself into. Our political system just can’t seem to cope with the anti-nuclear lobby, the expense of really committing to a renewable energy programme, the necessity of not relying on a filthy big pipe bringing us gas all the way from Russia. So what will we end up with? Sarah’s drawing portrays a power station on the pavement across the street from the JB figure. In the middle of it, a great chimney pumps smoke into the atmosphere. Ah yes, continuing to burn fossil fuels in order to keep our kettles whistling. Global scorching? Someone else’s problem. Someone in Africa or Australia or South America. Not us here in Huntly-on-Eden.

The figure staring into the window of the electric shop stays with me. And brings to mind the phrase ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’. Alas, that can be put another way. ‘The price of eternal vigilance is freedom.’ But then the artists (I’m thinking, for example, of Sarah Gittins and Jonathan Baxter) might say, that eternal vigilance doesn’t mean all of us being on guard
all the time. It might mean all of us chipping in, as long as ‘chipping in’ could be done systematically and with commitment. So I, for example, wouldn’t have to abandon my esoteric literary projects, case-studies of highly creative individuals intent on hiding/transforming their wounds. But nor would I be able to spend all my time on them. I envisage my working week mapping out as follows:

Enid Blyton
Evelyn Waugh
Nobson Newtown
Pat is Back
Energy Watch
Saturday: Strange Bundle
Visiting Mabel

Burning the candle that lights my computer’s keyboard at both ends of the week. Will I never learn?


Kate and I meet up again at Bonnygate Bakery. Soon there are nine of us around a table, scoffing scones, when a hearty greeting is given to us by a passer by. It’s Duncan Campbell, who this September joined the MFA at Dundee. He tells us he saw a wonderful performance by some Italian artists [Jacqueline Bulnes and PierGiuseppe DiTanno] at Cupar Railway Station. Apparently, it put a smile on the face of everyone who saw it. His words remind me that ‘Fate’ is the theme of the Cupar Arts Festival this year. And that it will be the fate of each visitor to take away a different experience of the event, depending on which of the 40-odd works they see and in what order.

Eventually, Kate and I slip away to the car park. We call round at the Castle Furniture Project and load Kate’s purchase of earlier in the day into the boot of our car. We’re both tired, but, as we were leaving her installation, Carolyn Scott told us that we really should visit The Silo on Cupar Trading Estate on our way home. Apparently, she had work there during a previous Cupar Arts Festival and found it to be the most amazing space.

Here it is, courtesy of Google. I don’t mean the orange and white cone in the foreground, I mean the tower in the background.

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 20.53.25

Kate drives and I paraphrase. ‘Sugar beet was a major crop in the area after the First World War. A factory was built in 1926 but the tower was only added in 1964. Rather than signalling the security of the industry, the business proceeded to go under and the factory was shut in 1971. The silo is coming into its own again as a prime site of the Cupar Arts Festival.’

The concrete tower would probably cost too much to demolish. Shame the same can’t be said about the Old Prison Cells.


What are we going to find inside? Once I’ve climbed the ladder and popped through the smallest of hatches, I find myself in another world. Is it ugly or beautiful? A prison or a playground? I suppose that depends on the eye of the beholder. Everything is relative. Correction: many things are relative.


Bringing my gaze back down to earth, I note the representation of leaves around the perimeter of the silo. This is an installation by Takaya Fujii and it speaks of the impact of global warming in his own country, Japan, where forests of oak, carefully husbanded through the centuries, and used as a source of fuel, are in terminal decline.


But what about the holes in the concrete floor? These are part of the building’s structure, something to do with the storage of sugar beet, I presume. As I walk about the space I feel I could almost be walking on the Moon. But I keep walking until other associations come to mind.


One of Sarah Gittins’ prints reflects on the plans to extract gas by igniting coal seams off the coast of Fife. Her leaflet mentions concern that this process could contaminate water supplies, as coal seam gas extraction dredges up carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals. What her leaflet doesn’t mention is that fracking is something that could even be considered under Cupar itself! Perhaps that’s what JB is worried about in the image above. He’s read in the
Fife Herald that a business consortium has suggested using the Silo to store fracked gas. The gas would flow up from the fracked ground into the silo through the holes in the floor where it is then able to fill up the concrete space. Well, you get the picture.

So what does JB do about it? He refuses to leave the silo, shuts the trapdoor and blockades himself in. But not before filling the space with religious iconography.


Good idea, JB, I don’t think anyone is going to get away with pumping poisonous gases into a space made sacred both by the presence of a baby being born in a manger and a noble man being crucified - a man who died to save our s(k)ins.

Here is a quote from Jonathan Baxter’s leaflet, ‘Who am I and what is Our fate?’:

‘The task of Christianity, psychoanalysis and, for that matter, art, is to choose your own fate from the stock of the Symbolic and to do what you can with what you find there and what you can meld.’


I’m not sure what the scratch marks on the wall of the Silo are a symbol for. But I can have a stab in the dark. I suspect each stroke represents a signature; JB is counting! Yes, while he is locked up, Sarah Gittins, helped by Morgan Cahn, has been collecting signatures on a petition, which reads: ‘We the undersigned citizens of Cupar feel that Fife should remain a frack-free zone.’ So far SG and MC have obtained 10,000 signatures. That’s more than the entire population of Cupar, but if they’ve slipped off to Huntly and Todmorden to add a few names, then that may be fair enough.

The important thing is we live in a democracy. One human - one neighbour - one vote. So signatures count. If someone pushes a political document under our face, be it a newspaper or a petition, then we can all chip in by reading it, thinking about it and making our opinions about our neck of the woods count.

Sorry about that. Going off on one, I mean. I suppose I feel that what I’ve seen today (last month) at the Cupar Arts Festival deserves some kind of imaginative/political gesture of support. Which is what this Silo section of an otherwise more straightforward text is intended to be. I may have hit a false note. If anyone thinks that’s what I’ve done, especially if they were getting on fine with the writing
before the Silo section, then I apologise to them. Sorry.

I wonder what Kate’s been thinking about that’s made her such an unusually quiet companion this Saturday, October 5th. Actually, now it’s November the 8th, I’m well aware of what’s been on her mind. Hopefully, between us, we’ll write about it fairly soon.

Thanks to Sarah Gittins for providing images of
Weather Report. Thanks to Carolyn Scott for providing images of Inside, photographs by Kirsten Scheuerl. Thanks to Pernille Spence for providing images of Not My Tomorrow. Thanks to Gill Mair for giving permission to use her photographs, more of which can be found at If any images should be credited differently, or additionally, please let us know.