Sàl launches Io­laire centenary

The Oban Times - - HERITAGE -

A ma­jor new art­work com­mem­o­rat­ing 100 years since the Io­laire tragedy has pre­miered at An Lan­ntair on Lewis.

The clocks went back in a very dif­fer­ent way last Satur­day evening for Sàl, com­posed by Iain Mor­ri­son with im­agery by artists Dalziel and Scul­lion.

Sàl, which can mean, salt, salt­wa­ter, the open sea and sug­gest tears, is the first of a se­ries of spe­cial events at An Lan­ntair in Stornoway to mark the Io­laire centenary.

The Io­laire tragedy is an an­guished story of wrecked lives and rav­aged com­mu­ni­ties. On the morn­ing of Jan­uary 1, 1919, a war-weary com­mu­nity, ex­hausted by loss, who had pre­pared for peace, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and re­turn, were en­gulfed by im­pen­e­tra­ble grief when the Io­laire, car­ry­ing ser­vice­men home, sank.

Not­with­stand­ing the vir­tu­oso per­for­mances across a suite of 12 mu­si­cal chap­ters and im­agery, Sàl is also deeply per­sonal.

Iain Mor­ri­son’s great-grand­fa­ther was among those lost and left a widow and eight chil­dren. His grand­fa­ther was but one year old. It is threaded through his ge­neal­ogy. It draws on the deep well of Ceòl Mòr and Gaelic psalm singing.

The centenary pro­gramme con­tin­ues this week with the launch of the book The Dark­est Dawn at the Fa­clan, the He­bridean Book Fes­ti­val, fol­lowed by a sec­ond An Lan­ntair com­mis­sion, An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave) by Julie Fowlis and Dun­can Chisholm, premier­ing on November 9, along­side Bho Mhoch Gu Dubh (From Dawn to Dark), an ex­hi­bi­tion of work by Mhairi Law and Alec Galloway.

Sàl will be per­formed again at An Lan­ntair on December 29, just be­fore the centenary of the Io­laire dis­as­ter.

The Io­laire sank on Jan­uary 1, 1919.

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