Stromness Museum blog

Mòti at the Museum - Louise Barrington

I’m Louise Barrington, part of the Mòti collective who will be exhibiting next month within the museum. I am delighted to have the opportunity to realise an idea that is part of an ongoing project titled Four Seasons: making the invisible visible. 


The project has been focusing on the aesthetics and environmental aspects of the Orkney landscape over a calendar year. I have been experimenting with film, sound, dance, and scent as sculptural forms. The Orcadian writer Edwin Muir stated of his youth in Orkney ‘A place where there was no great distinction between ordinary and fabulous.’ This seeing and feeling of the ‘ordinary fabulous’ is the heart of the Four Seasons project. 


September sunset. Louise Barrington
September sunset. Louise Barrington


The museum's natural history collection has been a great resource for my Four Seasons project. I had an informative guided tour looking at Robert Rendall’s shell collection, Northern American and Inuit textiles, along with the fragile herbarium collection gathered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. 


an old key is lying on a white surface. There is slight rust and corrosion to the key.  A white label is attached to the key on a key ring and reads 'Herbarium Cabinet Stromness Museum' in black text
Keys to the herbarium. Louise Barrington

I have been thinking about the past landscape, and our experience within the present. I am interested in how the herbarium holds a landscape memory, this is something I explore within my creative practice, and creative sessions I deliver within local primary schools across Orkney. Within my textile and sculptural work, I use natural dyes that I produce from materials, mindfully gathered from the landscape, that hold a certain time and place within the work. For the show in the museum, I will focus on capturing the scent of a season. Scent is the only sensation that travels the direct path to the emotional and memory centre of the brain, the amygdaloid and the hippocampus, scent and memory are closely linked. 


A Meadowsweet is pictured against a blue sky. The plant has green leaves at the base leadingup to a white/yellow flowering plant.
Meadowsweet. Image: Louise Barrington


a sweetpea flower is in the  centre of the image, with pinl and purple flowers.  There are other plants behind, gowing in a poly tunnel
Sweetpea. Image: Louise Barrington


I’m interested in how the invisible can have a physical effect on us transporting us to another time and space. As the climate emergency intensifies across the globe it’s not always visible to us here, but the invisibility is impacting the local ecosystems. The rhythm and patterns of the four seasons I grew up with is changing, reforming into an uncertain future. The museum has an important ecological role preserving a landscape memory. 


Many thanks to exhibition assistances Katy and Norna for the guided tour of the collection.


To follow the Four Seasons project please visit:




About the author

Louise Barrington
Guest blogger - Mòti collective