The Giant Portrait of Hamish Henderson beside the Shee Water at the Spittal of Glenshee in 2019

Clare Cooper

This event was one of the launch events for the Cateran Ecomuseum back in November 2019.

The giant portrait was made on the side of Bad an Loin beside the Shee Water in the northern part of the Ericht catchment at the Spittal of Glenshee, for the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Hamish’s birth by the artist Martin McGuinness.

Born in Blairgowrie and brought up to speak Gaelic, Hamish is recognised as one of the most brilliant Scots of his age. He spent his first five years at the Spittal of Glenshee, going on to be schooled in England at Dulwich College, and then at Downing College Cambridge.

He is considered to be the most important Scots poet since Robert Burns and was one of the founding fathers of Scotland’s 20th century folk renaissance, making more than 9,000 recordings of working people from all over Scotland, discovering such notable performers as the Stewarts of Blair, Jeannie Robertson, Flora MacNeil and Calum Johnston and preserving an oral tradition of stories and songs dating back hundreds of years.

An exceptional man in many ways, he served as an intelligence officer in Europe and North Africa, helping Jewish people escape Nazi Germany; was a communist, linguist and intellectual; a political activist, involved with the peace movement, Anti Apartheid and the campaign for Scottish Home Rule; co-founded the School of Scottish Studies; and wrote songs in addition to poetry, one of his most famous lyrics being ‘The Freedom Come-All-Ye.’

The portrait was made out of 4,000 metres of Jute and pinned to the hillside for two months before it was taken down.