North East Open Studios (NEOS) is an artists collective. Artists exhibit annually in September in various locations around North East Scotland. I was invited to produce some work for the ‘No Barriers’ exhibition at Ardo Studio Gallery, curated by Mary Cane, Lois Carson and Moira Third as part of NEOS 2008.

Clootie wells are a link between our world and the spiritual world and as such provided inspiration for my work for ‘No Barriers. Clootie wells are believed to have healing powers. At the well, hang a cloot (rag) that has been contact with someone who is ill and, as it rots away, the sickness will depart with it. It is very bad luck to remove a cloot as the sickness may be passed on to you.

I made a film of the clootie well at Munlochy (near Inverness) and projected it onto a rough brick wall. Making reference to the purpose of the well, the soundtrack featured descriptions of healing rituals and a rhythm that I was pleased to hear listeners couldn’t distinguish between the sound of breathing and the wind. Alongside the film, I produced an installation of hanging rag dolls. The overall effect was an eerie atmosphere with the sense of a strange spiritual presence.


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