Harpland – FitkinWall

Ruth Wallprojects

The new FitkinWall show Harpland features three of my harps (electro, Gaelic wire strung and bray harps) while Graham manipulates sound from stage.  There is a specially commissioned light installation from artist Peter Freeman and interviews from migrants into Scotland that I conducted earlier in 2023.

My background growing up in the Scottish Highlands has driven this album.  The enforced eviction and subsequent migration of farmers and crofters from the highlands, as part of ‘the clearances’ which benefited wealthy Southern sheep farmers, provides the central focus.  We have predominantly taken old Scottish and Gaelic tunes, performed on my various harps and Graham has reworked them completely keeping migratory ideas in mind.

Migration is not a new phenomenon.  Since homo sapiens came out of Africa between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago, humans have populated the planet at an increasing rate. There are now over 8 billion of us and we move around a lot.   Migration can be motivated by many different triggers – geological and geographic changes were key to starting the movement of people north from Africa as was climate change. And climate change is causing migration once more.  There are forced migrations such as refugees from war or cross-Atlantic slavery.  There are more voluntary migrations such as Europeans to America from the late 19th century onwards, or the colonisation of Australia.  Then there is the recruitment of workers from abroad such as the supply of Turkish workers to West Germany in the 1960s, the use of Asian workers in the building of Gulf States’ infrastructure or the UK’s use of Commonwealth labour to fulfil new and vacant positions in England.   And so on…

Read more about Harpland in the Guardian Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️