MacGillivray gives virtual poetry lecture at the Royal College of Art, May 2020
MacGillivray contributes to BBC Radio 4 Great Lives, Jim Morrison
The Ancient Mariner Big Read is an inclusive, immersive work of audio and visual art from the 21st century that reflects the sweeping majesty and abiding influence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 18th century epic poem. Readers include Jeremy Irons, Jeanette Winterson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton & Iggy Pop. MacGillivray contributes to Reading No. 11 with Robert Macfarlane.
MacGillivray's Murdered Mermaid Song featured on The Whalebone Box film soundtrack
by British director Andrew Kötting
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'The Scottish artist and singer stage-named MacGillivray (otherwise Kirsten Norrie) performs some beautiful mermaid-style keening/singing over the box, and the conceit is that this will imbue it with greater power, like a charged spiritual battery.' - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
'Elsewhere, the vocals of performance artist and musician MacGillivary manages to channel both a siren song and a whale’s death throes into her haunting lament.' - Ben Nicholson, BFI.org
'You get bits of unearthly song. MacGillivray performs this song, which is a murdered mermaid song, that sounds like a whale floating in outer space.' - Mark Kermode, BBC Radio 5 live
'Parallels are drawn between this whalebone artefact and everything from a plane's black box to Schrödinger's Cat and Pandora's trove of secrets. Some of this is an onslaught, not least musician MacGillivray's "mermaid's song" - a strident affair that nonetheless has a primal quality in the way it recalls whale song.' - Eye For Film
'. . .hear the poet-artist MacGillivray perform her spine-tingling murdered mermaid song in a church, sounding for all the world like a whale out of water, crying plaintively into the abyss.' - Mark Kermode, Film of the Week, The Guardian
MacGillivray is the matrilineal pen and performance name of poet, musician and artist Kirsten Norrie. The author of three collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe in the UK and Red Hen in the US, she has made nine records, working with producer and musician James Young (Nico, John Cale) and her music features in the soundtracks of three films by avant-garde British director Andrew Kötting. She makes a literary appearance as a cameo in Iain Sinclair's writing and worked with cinematographer Anonymous Bosch to write and direct a Gaelic short film, returning to the Isle of Skye to shoot on location with funding from Creative Scotland. Trained at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University, she writes, performs and composes using Scots, Gaelic and English with French for her 2019 album derived from the poetry of Mary Queen of Scots, released on Antigen Records. In 2018, she raised funds to visit the great grandson of Sitting Bull to make the recording The Last Wolf of Scotland. She is currently working on an anti-Western, The Man With Fourteen Lives, a novel set in New Mexico and the Scottish Highlands which takes its shape from the underbelly of the Wild West Show and the untrue life story of so-called scalping survivor Robert McGee.
'CATASTROPHES, from the battles of Catreath and Maldon to the Light Brigade, make for better poetry. In recent times, the writer and artist Kirsten Norrie, in the persona of MacGillivray, honours this tradition, the heady plunge into 'nutrient slaughter', with The Nine of Diamonds, a savage riposte to Culloden, conjured from tarot cards. 'I stand behind a waterfall,' MacGillivray said, 'comprised of frozen blood.'
When Edith the swan pedalo was hurled back by raging October seas in Hastings, MacGillivray's keenings stilled the waves. Later, she took to the English roads in the black velvet of John Clare's burnt muse, Mary Joyce. 'Blood makes me the ghost.' The colophon of her publisher, Bloodaxe Books, shows a helmeted Viking warrior, shield, axe and apron-skirt, rushing to annihilation.' - Iain Sinclair, The Last London.
"MacGillivray’s The Gaelic Garden Of The Dead is magnificent. You are holding in your hands a spell of sibylline leaves."
— Ishion Hutchinson,
Poet, Faber & Faber