Isolation - the state of being ‘isolated’
Isolated - to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone
I am an islander.
There are many ways to define an individuals status as an islander, but I will contextualise my own understanding of it as someone who:
a) respects the cultural narratives of their home space and is willing to share that culture with others
b) has the willingness to be involved in the many varied aspects of community life
c) seeks connection and community above material gain
d) is resourceful and sensitive to the local environment
e) lives on a patch of rock surrounded by sea.
Lockdown was a period that gave me an opportunity to examine the term ‘isolated’ in relation to those points above. Isolation was almost a selling point for the ‘romantic Hebridean island’; an untouched haven of wildlife, relaxation and wild landscape. But for those of us who live here (where our island is at the centre of our worlds and not on the periphery of ‘reality’) - who are working, socialising, learning, creating and evolving here - that romantic, or indeed narrow, concept of “isolation” is out of context and paints a different picture to those not experiencing life here. Yes, we are set apart from a life where the ‘rat race’ dominates over our values but, equally, we are set apart from services that support fair and developing infrastructure (think roads, internet access and affordable homes).
As COVID 19 brought a particular set of isolation instructions to each and every corner of Scotland, the UK and the wider world, I wondered: are we now more connected than before in our shared understanding and sense of Isolation? Are we all connecting to our friends, family, neighbours, environment and ourselves more meaningfully?
“An Aye for Aye” is an exchange project that considers reciprocity as a basis for creating meaningful bonds. I invited 20+ multi-disciplinary artists who live all over the UK to make something with a mark maker tool I had created with found objects, asking them to consider their experience of isolation and question “are we more connected in our shared sense of isolation”? Their contributions are then exhibited in the landscape that the found objects are discovered, offering the residents of Jura a chance to stumble upon them and consider different perspectives of isolation from different locations.
I aim for ‘curiosity’ to be the bedrock of the project, ultimately providing positive experiences and laying foundations for further exploration of ‘isolation’, ‘belonging’ and ‘connection’. Put simply, I want it to be an opportunity that could help ease feelings of loneliness and anxiety - for participating artists, unsuspecting viewers and myself.