The Fairy Dance – a forthcoming animation

The Fairy Dance - an cartoon earth mound chambered cairn with a yellow sky
The Fairy Dance.

The Fairy Dance – a forthcoming animation

The Fairy Dance is a forthcoming animation inspired by the traditional Scottish fiddle tune of the same name. It tells a cautionary tale from Orcadian folklore regarding the dangers of dealing with the “peerie folk“, also known as Trows or fairies.

(‘Peerie‘ is an older form of ‘peedie’, a word still in common use in Orkney today. Nowadays ‘peerie‘ may be more common in Shetland.)

Trows are much like the leprechauns of Irish mythology, but in Orkney they dwell in the earthen mounds which litter the landscape. In reality these are of course neolithic chambered cairns, the most well-known being Maeshowe.

The peerie folk love music and dancing, and according to legend might pay a fiddler with a never-ending supply of magic coins. However these are tricky creatures and such bargains are not entered into without risk. The animation is concerned with the cruel tricks the magical fairy folk can play with time itself.

Two previews of The Fairy Dance are now available to watch via YouTube.

This animation has been created with the assistance of the Visual Artist and Craft Maker Award (VACMA) scheme, delivered by Orkney Islands Council in association with Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This enabled me to purchase suitable equipment for the hand-drawn computer graphics and sound design required for this project. I would like to thank the VACMA panel for placing their faith in me, and hope that the people find the resulting short animated film of interest when it is released.

The Fairy Dance - violin lesson. Cartoon showing a boy being taught the violin by a "weel kent" face from Orkney.

“Take care if the peerie folk ask you to play,

The night may go on for a year and a day.”

Martin Laird, informed by Ernest Marwick.

The image below was originally created for an article about the music scene in Orkney written by Fiona Grahame for The Orkney News and iScot magazine. A crudely animated version of this cartoon served as as a proof-of-concept for our award-winning animation about The Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm.

The Fairy Dance is an extension of this idea. The animation is now in the final stages of production and will be released in the coming weeks.

Pen and ink black and white cartoon showing a section through a chambered cairn. Inside small fairy folk dance to the tune of a human fiddler while a skeleton watches them. Caption reads "take care if the peerie folk ask you to play. The night may go on for a year and a day."
Cartoon for the May 2018 edition of iScot Magazine. Pen & ink.