Inge Thomson’s latest album Da Fishing Hands, which was one of our recent Featured Albums of the Month (read Helen’s review), takes its title from the maritime tradition of Fair Isle. Fair Isle lies between mainland Shetland and the Orkney islands, a remote island that measures just 3 by 1.5 miles. A wild and beautiful landscape whose rugged inlets and coves have been carved out by the sea and wind.
As well as highlighting a cultural tradition of Fair Islanders who have strong cultural ties to the sea and fishing the project also served to highlight how changes in the marine environment are affecting all aspects of island life. To stem the degeneration of marine resources around the Island FIMETI (Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative) are seeking marine protected status with the ultimate aim to re-instate a 5km commercial fishing limit.This allows stocks to replenish and for them to be sustainably managed for future generations – as has been traditionally practised by Fair Isle folk for past generations.
In February last year we interviewed Inge about the project, one which presented unexpected challenges. A heavy blow was dealt when Inge’s cousin Lise Sinclair died following a short illness. Lise was an intrinsic part of the project but the decision was taken to go on. The following is an extract from that interview:
“…last year dealt us a very heavy blow. My cousin Lise was an amazing woman, beautiful, passionate and very generous with her creativity. I grew up with her and had the great fortune to accompany her on many musical journeys. She was a irreplaceable spirit on the Isle, survived by her four amazing children who are testament to her great parenting and her husband Ian who’s strength is an inspiration.
“I went home (Fair Isle) again in September to spend time with our family and talk about the project with no idea if it could proceed, or how? I was met with such overwhelming encouragement, indeed insistence for it to go ahead, as the cause had not changed, despite everything around it changing shape. Lise had written her last work for this project, so I am proceeding with a renewed sense of purpose, and an emotional element that is driving it.” Read our full interview here.
In May 2014 the debut performance of Da Fishing Hands took place on Fair Isle. Andy Crabb made the following short film to document the performance: