We are delighted to dedicate our third event to the Iona-based artist Mhairi Killin RSA. Alongside her artistic practice, Mhairi is the creative director of Aosdàna, which provides affordable workspaces for nine island microbusinesses while continuing a 120-year tradition of making jewellery on Iona. Living on Iona exerts a distinct influence on Mhairi’s artistic practice, which explores the physical and metaphysical spaces that surround her, taking into account the multi-faceted belief structures – religious, mythopeic, and socio-political – which shape them.

This is also reflected in her most recent work On Sonorous Seas, an interdisciplinary and collaborative project that began when a whale carcass was found on an Iona beach in August 2018. For a moment, that whale lifted the veil of invisibility that often lies upon the seas; as did an additional 117 beaked whales that were washed ashore the Hebrides, Ireland, Iceland and the Faroes around the same time. On Sonorous Seas explores how their deaths relate to military activity in British waters. It shows the destructive impact on the seas’ inhabitants that result out of the anthropogenic quest to map the otherwise invisible through sonar, a practice of which many may not be aware – out of sight out of mind. The project asks difficult and complex questions regarding this tension, and seeks to promote deep listening, while encompassing themes such as invisibility to explore the relationships of humans and “nature” as well other species. Doing so provides an opportunity to reflect on what energy and energy ethics can entail and mean, and help shape discussions about interspecies relations and our relationship to our surroundings, by thinking about forms of energy exchange (including within the context of “mindfulness”).