This is the second section of Jonathan Meades shooting script for The Isle of Rust (you can read the first section here)
THE ISLAND STARTS TO LOOK LESS IDYLLIC
58 - KITSCHY HOUSES
E END OF MEMORIAL AVENUE
WILLOWGLEN RD, A858, (100M W OF
PERCEVAL RD JUNCTION)
Whatever wealth is generated is mostly well concealed. It is very seldom manifest in the built environment. And when it is...
59 - DUALCHAS HOUSE
BREINIS (ON WEST COAST, SOUTH OF UIG)
MAP 13 REF NA 993 267
There are some works of architectural merit on the island. Well, two.
And they seem impertinently pretentious measured against the startlingly abject norm.
60 - BANAL INHABITED HOUSES - ALL OPF THEM GREY HARL.
(NOT WRECKS OR SHACKS).
FORMALLY SHOT, STRAIGHT ON -
AS THOUGH THE HOUSES ARE POSING.
SHOT TO EMPHASISE SIMILARITY AND INSIPIDITY.
WE SHALL NEED AT LEAST A DOZEN TO
COVER VO AND PTC.
NORTH LEWIS - THE TOWNSHIPS
ALONG THE A 857 BARABHAS TO BUTT OF LEWIS ROAD.
MAP 18 REF NB 015 860
MAP 18 REF NA 980 900
CALLANISH - HOUSES SHOT FROM BETWEEN THE STONES
This is perhaps the only place in the world whose townships and villagescapes, urbanism and landscapes are wholly infected by the Calvinist mentality...
that is, by a blindness to prettification...
an ignorance of any recognisable notion of beauty...
By an aesthetic bereavement so absolute that it is a sort of insouciant anti-aesthetic.
In a way the everyday buildings are the very contrary of Matheson’s. They suggest that to compete with this most magnificent terrain would be both hubristic and certain failure.
So the Department(?)of Agriculture and Fisheries which built so many of the houses on the island to a set of banal patterns simply didn’t bother to compete.
The unsurpassable strangeness of the island resides in the chasmic gulf between the naturally evolved and the negligently created, between scarp and scrap, between the sublime and the substandard.
61 - RUN RIG FIELD SYSTEM.
THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES.
0.75 KM SW OF ORASAIGH
MAP 14 REF NB 365 115.
MAP 14 REF NB 378 252.
1KM W OF BAILE AILEIN
MAP 14 REF NB 275 206.
MAP 14 REF NB 365 194.
MAP 14 REF NB 416 169
LEUMRABHAGH SHOT FROM POV
MAP 14 REF NB 378 113.
Not that the natural is invariably natural: it generally isn’t.
The landscape most formed by man here is not that of menhirs and dolmens. In fact man is moot in this context. The cable-knitted hillsides are the work of the sheep that man introduced. They sit alongside the field systems called run rig or lazy beds. This corrugated pattern of drainage furrows - the runs; and of fertile ridges - the rigs, is mostly in desuetude...
but is so widespread that it is one of the defining characteristics of the landscape.
These systems, like stone circles, possess a kind of abstract integrity that often attaches to the purely practical.
WRECKS, RUINS, BROKEN VEHICLES
ABANDONNED COACHES, RUSTING BULLDOZERS,
UNSEAWORTHY BOATS ETC.
THERE IS A WEALTH OF MATERIAL.
BUT SHORT OF RESORTING TO SHOW AND TELL
THERE IS NOT A LOT TO SAY.
SO ALTHOUGH THIS SECTION IS VERBALLY BRIEF
IT CAN BE TAKEN SLOWLY, ESPECIALLY GIVEN
THE VISUAL STRENGTH OF IT ALL.
PHOTOGRAPHY - VERY COLOURFUL, SATURATED.
ESSENTIAL TO COMPOSE FRAMES THAT SHOW CORRUGATED IRON,
MACHINERY, SCRAP ETC IN THEIR SURROUNDINGS. EMPHASISE THE
CONRAST BETWEEN NATURAL GRANDEUR AND SCRAP SQUALOUR.
62 - MAP 14 REF NG 155 928
SCRAPYARD SPILLING ONTO ROAD
The steadings and smallholdings, too, are purely practical.
But where the field systems are ordered the buidings are extraordinarily chaotic.
63 - BAILE AILEIN ON A859
MAP 14 REF NB 300 210
CARAVANS, SHACKS, BACK OF ARTIC
> 2KM W AT JUNCTION OF A 859 AND B8060
MAP 14 REF NB 269 201
The island’s shackscape is the apogee of the northern Hebridean anti-aesthetic.
64 - MAP 14 REF NG 132 915
FINE CARAVAN AND SHACK ENSEMBLE
Members of the National Trust and kindred bastions of insipid taste will doubtless fail to recognise the fantastical beauty of what is here - they should be pitied and soothed with a Glamis tea towel.
65 - MAP 14 REF NB 415 185
CORRUGATED IRON SHACK RUSTING
These scapes are beautiful in the way that a lupus is beautiful,
66 - MAP 14 REF NB 390 245
AND, NEARBY, ABANDONNED TRACTOR
AND ASSORTED WRECKED THINGS.
or mould on fruit,
67 - A858
MAP 8 REF NB 330 285
REF NB 288 299
THERE ARE TO THE SOUTH OF
THE ROAD AT LEAST FIVE ROOFLESS
HOUSES WITH FINE LOCH/LAND SCAPES
or decaying meat,
or scar tissue,
or diseases of the skin,
or anatomical freaks. They exert the same pull.
68 - MAP 8 REF NB 359 265
CORRUGATED IRON SHACKS ON BOTH SIDES OF
UN-NUMBERED ROAD TO LIURBOST,
ALSO A PAINTED BUS.
NUMEROUS OTHER BOATS IN BACK GARDENS, SHACKS AND RUINS ALONG THIS ROAD
WHICH CONTINUES TO CROSBOST (SEE FIELD SYSTEMS ABOVE).
ALSO SHED BUILT FROM BOAT HULLS.
This is the great outdoors as it might have been conceived by hothouse poets of the darkest indoors,
by virtuousi of polymorphous perversion: Francis Bacon and Arthur Tress,
Joel Peter Witkin and Felicien Rops.
It’s everything that planning can never achieve.
Art born of artlessness and carelessness - as though man has hurled temporay structures like the old gods hurled boulders.
69 - MAP 18 REF NG 058 848
0.5 KM S OF LINGREABHAGH
BURNT OUT BLUE VAN
It is a thrilling environment made by a beguiling lack of respect for that most sacred of cows “the environment” - worthy, green, dull and tiresomely backward looking. Put a petrol head in a pedestrian precinct and you’ll get a fascinating crash.
70 - MOINTEACH AIRINIS
SPECTACULARLY SCRAPPY AGRI KIT
WITH SAILS OF WINDFARM PEEPING OVER
TRACK OFF A859 1.5KM
AFTER TURN OFF TO B897
MAP 8 REF NB 378 297
And once the entropic template was established it was repeated with endless amendments and in countless permutations.
71 - MAP 14 REF NB 252 175
BIZARRE BULBOUS SCULPTURE (?)
LIKE AN INFLATED ONION WRAPPED
IN NYLON NETTING.
BROKEN UP CATAMARAN
There is nothing that cannot be used as an ad-hoc folly,
as a felicity beacon,
as an iconic icon.
And there is apparently no one on the island who is immune to the appeal of the found object and the oxidising object.
72 - MAP 14 REF NG 158 963
IMPLODED BLUE VAN
Whoever would have thought that the last remaining bastion of fundamentalist Calvinism would become the site of a scrap cult.
That the most seductive collective expression of Gaelic vernacular culture
would involve immobile bulldozers, holed boats, Allegros buried in dunes...
73 - MAP 14 REF NG 117 908
HOUSE BECOMING INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM ROCKS
Whoever would have thought...
We should think again. This island nation, this rather enchanted island is a law unto itself. De jure it belongs to Scotland. De facto it belongs to itself - it’s a tartan free zone.
74 - STORNOWAY OUTSKIRTS.
COLLAPSED CORRUGATED IRON BUILDING
OPPOSITE WESTERN LODGE OF LEWS CASTLE
MAP 8 REF NB 404 326
Far from being stuck in the Scottish past it presages the not very distant future when continents and nations and regions and towns and villages split...
75 - MAP 14 REF NB 401 244
SYSTEM OF SHEEP PENS AND FENCES.
A PRAM WITH CRATE ATTACHED - PRESUMABLY USED FOR
...into ever smaller fragments according to their language, their patois, their schismatic religion, their wacko culture - and their peripherality.
76 - MAP 14 REF NG 112 905
WRECKED HOUSES, AND A CARAVAN
TIED DOWN WITH GUY ROPES
IN LUNAR SURROUNDINGS
Other extremities of this continent spell out their situation: Finistera, Finisterre, Land’s End.
Rust may stay schtumm about it but this is the end of the world... The old world. And the beginning of a new one
77 - MAP 8 REF NB 234 321
PURPLE HOUSE - NEW AGE?
It does indeed foster a minority culture which has the strength of its self-consciousness.
Its language is a means of communication but it is equally a cause spoken by very few people.
78 - MAP 14 REF NB 335 198
FINE STRIPED CARAVAN AT ODD ANGLE
It is abnormally religiously observant. Other nations and nation states will catch up. It will come to seem normal. There can, regrettably, be little doubt that this century will witness a religious revival like that of the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
GROANING GRINDING NOISES
TO SUGGEST TECTONIC PLATES
JM WALKING THROUGH BOG -
HE ARRIVES TO REVEAL
BLUE TRANSIT AT END OF PTC
1KM N OF LEUMRABHAGH
MAP 14 REF NB 373 127
79 - SHOOT TRANSIT FROM ROAD
LOOKING S TOWRDS LOCHS AND SEA
It suffers exemplary conditions to succour the 21st century’s gradual isolation and subsequent atomisation. This is the wifi wilderness - when the wi-fi is not climatically disrupted. Like poor crofters and weavers before them its inhabitants are discovering the hell that is homeworking. Offices, labs, studios, canteens are social places. There are no canteens in the wilderness. There are no snoutcasts gathered outside a door shivering into their gaspers.
80 - NUTS / FHM COVER WITH SHEEP IN
LINGERIE ON THE COVER
How long before we succumb to the woolly temptresses on the moor who shamelessly go naked even on the sabbath?
How long can we survive being trapped in a virtual cage?
That is a bit of a mystery.
There are, however, much greater mysteries to dwell on.
How do you get a Ford Transit into the middle of a peat bog?
81 - UPSIDE DOWN CAR IN PEAT.
MAY NOT BE A MICRA - CHECK.
S OF A858 1.3KM AFTER TURNING
MAP 8 REF NB 343 273
I’m not expecting an answer to that. Nor to...
How do you get a Nissan Micra into the middle of a peat bog and then turn it upside down?
These vehicles will gradually be enveloped by sphagnum moss. Several millennia hence, in a world ignorant of internal combustion, they will be discovered in a state of at least partial preservation and revered as sacred objects from a distant, pre- apocalyptic age - a paradisiac age which ended with a bleat and a rusted carburettor.
FULL FRAME CU SHEEP
NOISE OF CAR REFUSING TO START
82 - JM RUNNING (LIMPING) ALONG BEACH.
AT LAST MOMENT IT BECOMES
APPARENT THAT IT IS SHOT IN
MIRROR. HIS BACK COMES INTO FRAME.
© Jonathan Meades 2009
Join 698 other awesome people who subscribe to new posts on this blog.