Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
A wonderful telling of a unique life
on 3 December 2011
The Silent Weaver joins a growing list of excellent books by Roger Hutchinson that describe and explore different aspects of Hebridean life. Like Calum's Road, Father Allan, and A Waxing Moon, The Silent Weaver uses a singular subject to weave a complex but evocative picture that touches on - among other things - military history, Uist culture, medical practice, and the recent economic history of the Outer Islands. All this in telling the extraordinary story of Angus MacPhee, a crofter who went off to war in 1939, fell ill with a form of schizophrenia and was then sent to Craig Dunain Hospital outside Inverness. For the next 50 years MacPhee chose to remain almost totally silent, but went about weaving hundreds of garments from the grass and leaves he harvested from the hospital grounds. Only a few of these were rescued (by the art therapist Joyce Laing) but Hutchinson uses these basic facts to write a truly fascinating story and go on to place MacPhee's achievement both within his own Gaelic and Celtic culture, and within the world of 'Outsider Art', or 'Art Extraordinary' (to use Laing's terminology).
A wonderful read, full of insight and never once losing sight of MacPhee's achievement in recapturing and rediscovering his humanity against enormous odds. Thoroughly recommended.