Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Cape Wrath Project

A view of Beinn Ghobhlach in the Scoriag peninsula.

For the last three weeks, I have been researching in the studio for a new dance and music project with Glasgow based composer Matilda Brown: Footsteps Marking Time, The Cape Wrath Music and Dance Project.

I met Matilda a year ago, during the creation of This Town, with Dundee Rep Creative Learning. We were immediately drawn to each other’s practice and we were soon determined to collaborate again in the future.

Footsteps Marking Time will go beyond the usual scope of music and dance collaborations: it will, literally, burst out of the studio walls and go into the wilderness. The work will be inspired by two simultaneous endurance experiences: Matilda’s walk of the Cape Wrath trail through the Highlands and my own voluntary ‘confinement’ for three weeks in a studio in the community of Scoraig, a remote peninsula on the West Coast of Scotland.

During this first stage of the process Matilda, who is an experienced mountaineer, is walking over 200 miles between Glen Finnan and Cape Wrath, the top North West corner of the UK. It is a journey that no other woman – as far as we know – has undertaken alone and in one go.  For the last weeks, Matilda and I have been constantly in contact, sharing our experiences and thoughts, as well as pieces of text and music.

Our research has been directed both outwards and inwards: on one side we are exploring our relationship with the environment and those who inhabit it; on the other, we are confronting ourselves with questions about our sense of self and personal identity, and its transformation (at physical, emotional and spiritual level) through endurance and struggle.

Matilda is due to arrive to Cape Wrath in the next couple of days, when my time in Scoraig’s studio will also come to an end. The finished piece, a new full length dance and music composition will feature Matilda’s chamber ensemble and solo dancing by myself. The première will be at the MacPhail Centre in Ullapool in Autumn 2014. More information about touring dates around Scotland soon.


  1. Hi Joan - it was fantastic to hear you talk about this project on Radio Scotland's Out of Doors the other week, which is my favourite radio programme. Hope it is going well.

    1. Dear Anita, thanks for your message. Yes, such a fantastic programme! It was great to have Helen staying over in Scoraig for one night and speaking to her... Matilda and I are now collating all our research material, and we can't wait to get together in the studio!