For Whom does the Wind Blow?

67m wind turbine located in Hatston, Kirkwall, seen from an unusual vantage point.
A 67m wind turbine located in Hatston, Kirkwall.

Orkney is a windy place and can generate more power than it needs from its many wind turbines. Unfortunately the energy distribution network is not set up to take advantage of this. There is currently no easy way to export surplus electricity, and the price tariffs energy suppliers impose on consumers penalise people living in rural areas. Renewable energy has changed the way power is generated and distributed, but this is not taken into consideration.

Despite an over-abundance of renewable energy, Orcadians pay some of the highest energy prices in the UK, and Orkney suffers from the highest rate of fuel poverty in Scotland. The Scottish Government does not have control of energy policy – that is reserved to Westminster.

Incumbent MP for Orkney & Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, did not manage to solve this problem, even whilst a cabinet minister in the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition government of David Cameron.

Cameron famously dismissed renewable energy as “green crap“, and this may be some indication of how much the average English Tory cares about the problems of rural Scotland. However, the fact is a small number of land-owners have made a lot of money from it.

Vestas V52 850kW wind turbine located in Burray, with a pink sky.
Vestas V52 850kW wind turbine located in Burray, Orkney.

In the summing up of his 2015 trial for lying to his constituents about his role in a smear campaign against the First Minister of Scotland, Alistair Carmichael was described by the judges as a “blatant liar” who was “at best disingenuous, at worst evasive and self-serving”. He narrowly avoided charges with the defense that a personal lie is different from a political lie, thereby proving in an electoral court that lying is an acceptable part of a politicians job (!)

What a fantastic precedent that turned out to be.

A turbine and gorse blowing in the perpetual Orkney wind.
Another windy day in Orkney.

These pictures accompany an article by Fiona Grahame for The Orkney News entitled Affordable Energy? Mind the Gap. This article was first published in iScot magazine and can now be read online.

For Whom does the Wind Blow, energy policy being reserved to Westminster? Cartoon depicting Alistair Carmichael MP blowing a paper wind turbine. Pen, ink & gouache, 2019.
For Whom does the Wind Blow? Pen, ink & gouache, 2019.

Last Call for Life on Earth

Last Call for Life on Earth

Last Call for Life on Earth is a cartoon created to accompany an Orkney News article published in iScot magazine in 2019.

It is my belief that we all need to think about our impact on the environment, and take urgent steps to reduce our individual carbon footprint. The way of life we in “The West” currently enjoy, which people all over the world understandably aspire to, is simply not sustainable. If we don’t change our ways the future looks bleak for the human race (to say nothing of the rest of life on Earth).

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has caused a slowing of global energy demand and largely put a temporary halt to unnecessary luxury travel. According to a study published in Nature, this only means humanity is destroying the environment we all depend on to live at the same rate we were in 2006! This was recently compared on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe to gently squeezing a hose – it does practically nothing to stem the flow of water (i.e. CO2).

Permanent systemic change is needed. Unfortunately people keep electing politicians who don’t even believe climate change is a problem, and who often have vested interests in doing nothing about it. On top of that everyone wants their SUV and a holiday in the sun.

Hell mend us all.

Last Call for Life on Earth -The Grim Reaper takes the tickets of holidaymakers boarding a plane at Kirkwall airport.
Last Call for Life On Earth. Pen, ink & watercolour, 2019.



A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, continues it’s run at film festivals across the UK, and is also playing in Paris this week.

Mrs Baikie of Tankerness, after a portrait by Stanley Cursiter
Mrs Baikie of Tankerness, after a portrait by Stanley Cursiter. Animation still comprised of digitally combined gouache paintings, 2019.

The Paris International Animation Film Festival (PIAFF!) runs from the 17th to the 23rd of September. A full programme of events is available on the PIAFF website, with regular updates on Facebook. A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm has been chosen by festival president Sylvie Dimet for her personal “coups de coeur” selection.

Paris International Animation Film Festival, 17th to 23rd September 2019

The Women Over Fifty Film Festival (WOFFF) takes place at the Depot cinema in Lewes, Sussex, and seeks to showcase the work of women over fifty, both on screen and behind the camera. It begins on Friday 20th September with “Free Friday”, which features events particularly for elderly women (over 60) in Lewes and the surrounding areas who may find it hard to be social and out in the world. Carers attend for free as well. The main festival is on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of September.

A trailer for the film festival can be seen on YouTube:

The World of Film International Festival Glasgow runs from the 3rd to 6th of October 2019, at Film City Glasgow. The focus of this festival is independent and first-time film-makers from around the world, and there is an emphasis this year on the female perspective. Further details are on the WOFF website and facebook page.

World of Film International Festival Glasgow, October 3rd to 6th 2019.