Friday, 2 September 2011

Waiting... (the Lewis Chessmen)

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In the dunes, by the sea at Traighe Uige or perhaps Mealasta?
Rabbits came and went.
Cows stumbled and lowed.
Storms rose and fell.
Sand drifted up to their knees.
And they waited.
The King settled back in this throne and resigned himself to the wait.
The Queen slumped with boredom, chin on hand.
The Beserker bit down hard on his shield ‘til small shards of walrus ivory splintered his tongue.
The bishop had his faith.
And still they waited.
Then one day MacLeod’s cow, or a massive storm or Pure Chance speared their darkness with a shaft of light, and the rest is history. 

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The Lewis Chessman were discovered in the Western Isles in the 19th century. The circumstances of their recovery are rather mysterious but this is how I imagine them in the last few moments before they saw the light of day again after centuries of darkness.  We were lucky enough to see the The Lewis Chessman Unmasked exhibition at the Museum nan Eilean, in Stornoway. I was amazed by the luminous quality of the walrus ivory and just how tactile they looked (though of course they were safely behind glass).

[nope, not a beachcombing find (unfortunately), just a museum shop replica]


  1. what a stunning print and great to hear the inspiration behind it.Your work keeps getting better and better. A : )

  2. That's a lovely print - and a fascinating background story, too. We were in north-west Scotland this summer, but didn't quite make it to Lewis...maybe next year!

  3. Thanks for your lovely comments:)

  4. My organisation does regular work for the British Museum and I got to see these lovelies when they were exhibited there. I LOVE your work and it's a pleasure following your blog. Would you like to be interviewed on mine someday?

  5. Thanks Miss Robinson, i'm normally more interested in archaeological landscapes than artefacts but must admit these pieces had me hooked. Hope to see some more in the BM some day. Oh & yes please, i'd love to.



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