Roger Hutchinson

The Silent Weaver

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A “fascinating, poignant” biography of the WWII veteran who, while confined to an asylum, became one of the great outsider artists of modern times (The Scotsman).
In September 1939, groups of horsemen in battledress cantered down a broad, grassy plain on the western edge of Europe. The young men of the Western Isles of Scotland were going to war again. They included a tall, shy twenty-four-year-old named Angus MacPhee.
Angus returned from war alive but in chronic mental pain, and was referred to the asylum in Inverness, where he spent the next fifty years of his life. During his time at Craig Dunain Hospital, he retreated into his own silent world, and did not speak again until shortly before his death. But “the quiet big man,” as he was known, spent his time creating a huge number of objects out of woven grass, sheep’s wool, and beach leaves—mostly clothes, caps, and hats—which he then let decay or deliberately burned. Only after an art therapist discovered his miraculous creations were some of them preserved for posterity. And only then did Angus MacPhee come home to South Uist, where he died a year later. The Silent Weaver is a rich, moving and enthralling exploration of mental health, the creative process, human frailty, and ancient traditions.
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218 printed pages
Original publication
2011

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