Cubby Roo time-lapse video

Cubby Roo time-lapse drawing video
Cubby Roo time-lapse drawing on YouTube

Cubby Roo is a giant from Orcadian folklore. There are various tales of him hurling megaliths between islands (often at other giants), and attempting to build bridges of rocks between them. This is a habit he shares with other giants from Norse and Celtic mythology. Many places in Orkney are named after him, or the rocks he threw, such as the Finger-Steen on Rousay and Cubby Roo’s Castle on Wyre.

It is usually said that Cubbie Roo‘s name itself is a corruption of the Norse chieftain Kolbein Hrúga, but Gregor Lamb has an interesting alternate theory which can be read on

Orcadian folklore has inspired many artists, writers and musicians, but here inspiration is going to be killed. The giant is about to squish the Muse of Comedy, who in Ancient Greece was known as Thalia.

The Muse carries a golden comedy mask and wears a wreath of ivy, a symbol of Dionysus and therefore joy and pleasure. She is also known for playing the horn (salpinx). As a dour, grudge-bearing giant, Cubby Roo does not approve of such things.

You can watch a time-lapse video of the drawing process on YouTube (or IGTV).

The drawing was not carefully planned in advance. I had done some very scrappy sketches to work out the composition and perspective, but made changes and corrections along the way. I had also printed out a photo of a ballerina and Goya’s Colossus to refer to.

Pastels, are a messy medium where it is hard to achieve fine detail, so it seemed appropriate to try and keep things loose.

The picture was drawn to illustrate the first of a series of articles about the island of Rousay by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News, which will be published in iScot magazine in the first instance.