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Nature of Scotland Award: Da Fishing Hands - Update and Tribute to Lise Sinclair
21 August 2013

Nature of Scotland Award: Da Fishing Hands - Update

It is with immense sadness that FIMETI announces the tragic and untimely loss of Lise Sinclair, one of the two talented Fair Isle artists engaged in this project. Her death deprives us of a major influence on the musical heritage of the isle. Her energetic input into every aspect of cultural life touched all ages and her legacy extends to a new generation of Fair Isle children growing up under her musical tutelage and encouragement.

Her fellow artist, Inge Thomson, informs me that the project is not lost. Award givers Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage have been fully understanding and supportive throughout. Inge is currently studying the best means of going forward, with the knowledge that a considerable proportion of the intended output of writings, music and songs is already completed.

Lise was deeply committed to safeguarding Fair Isle’s seas which she saw as the bedrock of the cultural as well as environmental values of the isle. Da Fishing Hands will be an enduring memorial to her loving care and dedication to the traditions and culture which make Fair Isle so special to so many people.

Nick & Elizabeth Riddiford
August 2013



The following poem was composed by Lise in both English and Shetland dialect and is published in 'WHITE Below - a collection of poems and stories from Shetland's fishing industry.' (Hansel Cooperative Press, 2010)

Kuna                                                             (by Lise Sinclair)      

Don't mention my name on the sea

Show no recognition, let no

Shadow-thought of me cross your bow

Even a whisper might bring the storm

Around your head, might add

Swell to tide, and flow your gunnel over

As the lines I baited earlier today

Drop down glinting and sharp with hope

Your hands will fill with fish

And you pretend that these same hands

Do not know the hold of me, as you pull

Me from sleep, well

I suffer no such denial of you

Here at the cliff, the rigg, the door-stone

Or bed, I accept you by no other name

You are out there, cold

Placing absolutes on that shifting world

Yet drawing breath

from the same star-turning night



Kuna: the fisherman's sea name/taboo name for woman

Kona: (Icelandic) woman

Kuna                                                                 (by Lise Sinclair)

Dunna speak my neem ower da haaf

Traet me aes da fraemd, lat nuy

Shadow-toight o me cut dee boo

Even spaekin peerie-wyes hit mitht caa

Coors wadder abut dee heid, mitht pit

Swell apo tide, an flaow dy gunnel ower

Aes da lines I baited airlier d'duy

Drap doon glintin an sharp wi hoop

Dy haunds'l fill wi fysh

An du makks on at dat sem haunds

Dunna keen da hedd o me aes du hauls

Me fae sleep, weel

A'll preeve nuy sic unkenness wi dee

Here be da banx, da rigg, da brigg-steen

Ur beyd, I tak dee be nuy idder neem

Du is ut deyr, cauld

Markin meads on dat shiftin world

Yit draan braeth

Fae da sem staur-turnin nitht


Kuna: fyshermen's sea neem/taboo neem fur woman

Kona: (Icelandic) woman

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