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HMS Pheasant 1917

Drawing of HMS Pheasant, an Admiralty M-class Destroyer, with a mine
HMS Pheasant, chalk & charcoal on watercolour, 2019.

HMS Pheasant was an Admiralty M-class Destroyer based in Orkney during WW1. Due to its strategic importance, Scapa Flow was the main base of the British Grand Fleet during both World Wars.

In the early hours of the 1st of March 1917, HMS Pheasant exploded with the loss of all hands. It had only recently been launched, on 23rd of October 1916. It is thought that the ship hit a mine.

Only one body was ever recovered, that of Midshipman Reginald Cotter, who was still alive when pulled from the water and is now buried in the Lyness Naval Cemetery on Hoy.

What happened to HMS Pheasant was virtually forgotten until a maritime survey conducted by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and SULA Diving located its remains off the coast of Rora Head, Hoy.

The background of the ship’s 89 strong crew is a slice of early 20th Century society in Britain. The men were from varied cultural backgrounds. There is currently no memorial to them, and many of their relatives never found out what happened. Since writing about the subject for The Orkney News, Fiona Grahame has been contacted by some family members, and has been uncovering their often remarkable stories.

A documentary about this tragedy, to focus on the lives of the individual crewmen, is currently in pre-production by The Orkney News team. We are seeking financial backing to take this project forward – if you are in a position to help with this, please get in touch via the contact form on this site or https://theorkneynews.scot.

This project follows on from our animated telling of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, which will shortly be showing at the Scottish Short Film Festival at the Art School in Glasgow, on Saturday 27th of July. Tickets are for the film festival are available from https://www.scottishshortfilmfestival.com/. A trailer showcasing the short films to be featured can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNW5I7DuJcY.

black and white photograph of Rora Head, Hoy
Rora Head, Hoy.

Cataclysmic climate change? Just roll with it!

Cataclysmic climate change? Just roll with it! The all-new Toyanka Wastelander. Gas-guzzling SUV driver throws rubbish at a walker while potentially fatally close-passing a cyclist.
The all-new Toyanka Wastelander. Bull Shit, Orkney. Pen & ink, 2019.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governer of California in 2003, he was criticised for claiming to care about the environment whilst driving around in a Hummer (of which he owned six). This incredibly masculine status symbol gets around 10 miles to the gallon, and is the exact opposite of what anyone that actually cares about the environment should be driving.

In 2019, in Orkney, it seems that everyone now drives the equivalent of a Hummvee: 4×4 SUVs and pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Lwhatever, etc., are everywhere. These vehicles are so obnoxiously huge, they stuggle to stay on one side of the road. They are also an environmental disaster.

As engine technology has supposedly become more fuel efficient (notwithstanding vehicle manufacturers cooking the figures and illegally colluding to retard development of emissions reduction technology), the public has responded by buying larger, heavier, less efficient vehicles.

The above cartoon was drawn to accompany an article written by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News for iScot magazine, which states that Orkney has far more cars per head than the Scottish average:

At the last count Orkney had 753 cars per 1,000 people compared to 385 in Edinburgh and a Scottish average of 533. It is not that Orcadians are richer or lazier than the folks of Edinburgh , in fact Orkney has a low wage economy but to get to work you most likely will need your own transport.

https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/03/31/pedal-power/

The unfortunate necessity of private vehicular transport does not justify the choice to drive the most environmentally destructive vehicle that money can buy.

There is also a chicken-and egg problem in that few people in Orkney can rely on public transport because public transport in Orkney is totally inadequate, but the reason it is so inadequate (and expensive) is in part because almost everyone chooses to drive everywhere!

The benefits of cycling to an individual’s health, the environment, and consequential knock-on financial benefits to the public purse (e.g. the NHS), are enormous. So enormous that Professor John Parkin of Bristol University, author of “Designing for Cycle Traffic“, stated in an interview with Carlton Reid on the Spokesman podcast that he thinks government officials often simply don’t believe the figures!

Air pollution, including that from petrol and diesel engines, is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 64,000 people per year in the UK. In addition, according to the UK Government, in the year ending June 2018, 1,700 were killed in road traffic accidents, 26,610 killed or seriously injured, and 165,100 sustained some injury.

Thanks to the volume of vehicular traffic and the aggressive, dangerous, and inconsiderate behaviour of people behind the wheel, cycling on the roads of Orkney, like most places, is a scary, life-threatening, experience.

A broken exhaust pipe seen at the side of the road in St. Ola, with a bicycle in the background.
The revolution will not be motorised.
A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm poster - official selection for the Scottish Short Film Festival 2019

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm – watch online

Click image to watch on YouTube.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

The story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, as told by The Orkney News is now available to watch online on YouTube.

Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.

Researched and scripted by Fiona Grahame, the hand-painted animation by Martin Laird is stylised to make some reference to the world of 20th century art. The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, having designed its banner and married Phyllis Hourston, one of its members. The design of characters and locations was derived from period photos.

The narration by Orcadian Kim Foden is upbeat and enthusiastic. The original score by James Watson sets the perfect tempo for the flow of the animation.

The animation was made possible with an award from the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund which supported projects celebrating 100 years of some women gaining the right to vote.

Fiona Grahame is the editor of The Orkney News, which is free to read online at https://theorkneynews.scot

Find James Watson on Facebook at Wooden Sole Music https://facebook.com/woodensolemusic/

Thank you to the staff at the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre, who made it possible for A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm to premiere on the big screen in Kirkwall. It was shown alongside a week of films celebrating women in cinema, to coincide with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2019.

Still from A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society, showing artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston
The artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston
Photography featured image header

Hoy

Photographs of Hoy

Photographs of Hoy taken in March 2019, on a bicycle trip to Rackwick. Although the weather was mild for the time of year, there were heavy and unpredictable downpours, and it was very windy on the clifftops at Rora Head and the Old Man of Hoy.

Animation premiere at the Phoenix Cinema

poster for A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society. Showing at the Phoenix Cinema in the Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall, alongside selected films from 5th to 11th of March.
‘A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm’ launch poster

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm premiere

International Women’s Day 2019 is on the 8th of March. To coincide with this the Phoenix Cinema at the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall will be showing a week of films featuring female leads and directors.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society as told by The Orkney News, will be shown before these selected films. It premieres alongside Can You Ever Forgive Me, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, and was directed by Marielle Heller.

Thank you to the staff at the Pickaquoy Centre who have made it possible to see the animation on the big screen. Thanks also to the Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom this project would not have happened.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm – a forthcoming animation

Still from A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society, showing artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston
The artist Stanley Cursiter with Phyllis Hourston

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, is now all but complete. It will be available soon.

The story, which is largely forgotten and previously untold, was researched and written by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News. Narration was provided by Kim Foden, with a moving musical score by James Watson.

Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th Century, up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism.

The artist Stanley Cursiter was associated with the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. He designed their banner (of which sadly only a written description survives), and married Phyllis Hourston, a member of the society.

This artistic connection served as an inspiration for the animation. The intention was to make a moving painting. As such, all the art was hand painted in gouache on watercolour paper. It was then photographed, digitally collaged, and animated on a computer.

This animation project has been a joy to work on. Thanks especially to The Scottish Government Centenary Fund, without whom it would not have been possible.

Gammon is Great

Two pigs in yellow vests beating up a black sheep which a grinning skeleton in a top hat looks on. Gammon is Great.
Pineapple Gammons in the Banana Kakistocracy. Gouache and black ink, 2019.

Pineapple Gammons in the Banana Kakistocracy

Gammon is Great! Pineapple Gammons in yellow vests take back control of the Great Banana United Kakistocracy, under the approving gaze of a Skeleton Lord.

Kakistocracy is defined as government by the worst people.

The Banana Kakistocracy is an undemocratic totalitarian state run by incompetent psychopaths with delusional levels of self-confidence. It is a low wage, low productivity economy which has dismantled its social security system and manufacturing base, and sold off publicly owned assets. Prime industries are now tax evasion, weapons dealing, and financial crime.

Four legs good, two legs better.

George Orwell, Animal Farm
Photography featured image header

Stromness

A view of Stromness from Cairston with the setting sun glowing behind a gap inteh clouds behind the hills of Hoy.
Setting December sun over Stromness & the Hoy hills

The great #Stromhole in the sky, fed by burning farm plastic.

The Patron Saint of Cringe

St Andrew is crucified on a saltire. A Roman legionary says "He said a crucifix was too good for him", to which another replies "Christ Almighty!". An evil cherubic Britannia hovers over Andrew with a trident and Union-flag shield. Caption reads "The Patron Saint of Cringe."
The Patron Saint of Cringe. Cartoon for the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. Pen, ink & gouache.

Andrew: the patron saint of Scottish Cringe

This cartoon was created to accompany the Orkney News article in the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. The article is about St Andrew’s Fair Saturday 2018, which is a day of events promoting positive social change throughout the world. It is a response to the unsustainable consumerism embodied by Black Friday.

According to Biblical legend, Roman senator Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus sentenced Andrew the Apostle to death by crucifixion in Achaea (Greece). Andrew supposedly didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus Christ, and the fair-minded Lucius had him bound to an X-shaped cross (crux decussata) instead.

Centuries later, Óengus mac Fergusa, King of the Picts, is said to have selected the saltire as the emblem of Scotland following a successful battle against the Angles (and a vision of the crux decussata in the sky).

Having its roots in a story about St. Andrew’s feelings of unworthiness, the saltire seems an appropriate symbol for a people afflicted by the ‘Scottish cringe‘. Many a self-proclaimed Proud Scot resists the idea the people of Scotland have the wit or resources to govern themselves

Woman’s Suffrage Exhibition at Northlight Gallery

Woman’s Suffrage: A Work In Progress

Woman's Suffrage: A Work in Progress. Artwork from the upcoming animated short "A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm." Exhibition at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness from December 1st to 6th.
Woman’s Suffrage: A Work in Progress. Exhibition poster.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm

In December, production artwork for an upcoming animation will be on display at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness. This work was created for a short film from The Orkney News called A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm. Researched and written by Fiona Grahame, it tells the largely forgotten story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society. The project received funding from the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund celebrating 100 years of women having the vote.

The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society was a peaceful, non-party political organisation, open to both men and women. The title of the animation, A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, comes from one of the banner slogans which the Suffragists used on marches.

This exhibition is taking place in association with St. Andrew’s Fair Saturday. Fair Saturday falls on the last Saturday of November (following the consumerist Black Friday). A wide variety of events in support of positive social change are taking place across the globe. The events calendar can be viewed on the Fair Saturday website (link).

This event will also be raising funds in support of the Orkney Rape & Sexual Assault Service.

The exhibition runs from the 1st to the 6th of December 2108 at the Northlight Gallery, and will be open from 10am – 4pm daily, including Sunday.