Assynt Sutras


This is my tenth year of living in Assynt. Each year, my relationship with the landscape grows deeper: as I tread familiar paths in and around my village; as I scan the same horizon in every weather condition; as I watch each season come and go. Last year I took some time out to learn a bit more about the geology of the area and this has increased my understanding of the underlying character of the land and of the powerful forces that have shaped the skeletal mountains and formed the peaty moors that are carved through with inky black lochs.

This collection of work is a search for the essential nature of Assynt, exploring its deep past and the impact of the more recent and fragile presence of its human population. The word ‘Sutra’ is from the ancient language of Sanskrit, and originally meant a thread. It is commonly used to describe a story or aphorism containing an essential truth. The modern word ‘suture’ is used to describe a seam: the stitching or binding together of a form.

During September 2015 a selection of these works was exhibited at the Ceilidh Place, Ullapool. As I continue to explore and expand on this theme, new works will be added.

Work on a related theme can be seen on the The Fabric of the Land page.


Please click on an image to see the full picture.




A Night in the Bone Caves


Imagine sitting so long that the wind-blown dust forms a crystal garland around your feet.

Imagine pulling up green thoughts to lay over the white cold that sits within your bones.

Imagine the hope in the stars as they pulse and return your gaze.

Imagine another morning and the crown of the sun.

Imagine finding that, with a stretch of your toes, you can touch that sun.

Imagine your step as you cross that threshold for the last time.








When the Snows Left



When the snows left,

Their bodies were everywhere.

Longer than life, they stretched -

Ley lines,

Crossing startled fields,

Moulding strange contours.


We walked a lot,

With boots like strangers to our feet.

I looked left and

Right enough,

There they were again –

Plated-up on rocks,

Lozenged in gaps and dyke-encrusted.

Oh, sweet parcel of grass,

Brown bundle of protein,

Fast food of the sky gods and

Scourge of the crofter!

More weeks have passed,

But no one came to the feast.

Now the sealed tomb of January is unlocked

And the spring’s ragged weather drives in and on.

Yet the fur-fringed,

Freeze-framed rabbits are still there:

A compost of memory.



Email :    Tel : 01854 666279,   Postal Address : Jan Kilpatrick, Cul Mor, Elphin, By Lairg, Sutherland, IV274HH.

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