"by a lock of their hair, they hoped to fly to Heaven"

This project involved a creative interpretation across poetry, art, video and performance and based on a Utopian 18th Century cult led by a charismatic woman, Elspeth Buchan, who became convinced that she had a central role to play in the Second Coming, specifically that she and a minister from Troon were embodiments of certain key figures in the Book of Revelations. She had calculated when the cult was to be ‘transported’ to heaven and set about founding a community to prepare for this. Thrown out of Ayrshire they ended up in Templand, near Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway. They practised communal ownership and free love and scandalised the local community though the landowner who rented property to them, talked admiringly of their discipline and work ethic. Burns “rescued” one of their adherents. Several deadlines for ‘translation’ to heaven came and went and the followers dwindled till eventually only one was left, Anthony Innes. The cult had by this time moved to Crocketford. When Elspeth died, Innes kept the mummified body, and on his deathbed insisted he be buried on top of her body so that he would fly away to heaven too. The project is fascinating in that the Buchanites’ beliefs flew in the face of contemporary convention and in that the central role was played by a hugely able, resilient and talented working class woman.

Click here to access the full series on digital flipbook format  "Blash o God" The work was made January - April 2019.

If you prefer to hear Hugh reading and speaking the poems CLICK HERE to see the film "The Buchanites - A Heretic's Tale"

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