Birsay, Orkney, Scotland
Sat 31 Aug – Sat 07 Sept 2024



The Museum of Loss and Renewal is delighted to invite applications for the Group Residency MICRO-MACRO, Orkney.

MICRO-MACRO has been devised around the relationships of ‘Air, Sea and Soil’, encompassing the Orkney Islands’ remarkable natural environment. Residents will be welcomed to the Birsay area of Orkney, where the bespoke programme will take place in Linkshouse’s excellent accommodation and studio facilities, and through visits to Neolithic Orkney’s World Heritage Sites.

MICRO-MACRO will be lead by Tracy Mackenna (The Museum of Loss and Renewal) and facilitated by Tracy and a range of multidisciplinary Orkney-based experts who have in common site-specific, participatory and socially engaged practices. Their diverse skills, expertise and modes of working are activated to investigate collecting, energy, (imagined)futures, (layered)histories, (stratified)landscape, (experimental)mapping, memory(ecological, material and ruin), recording, site(responsiveness), (intersections of)material/immaterial realms, (deep)time and walking as practice.

Welcome to all creative practitioners and researchers interested in making, thinking and being in experimental ways. This Group Residency will take you out and about in Orkney, allow you to focus, introduce you to the impact of climate crisis, to vast skies, open vistas and the archipelago that has long been shaped by the sea. You will get up close to places, matter and materials and ideas, and step back to consider your position in the universe.

MICRO-MACRO is offered for practitioners and researchers working in all creative disciplines and for those who have a strong interest in the investigation of site and place. The max. number of participants is 9.

As an example of a site-specific Group Residency, see the activities and work generated during the Place, People and Time: WILD WAYS Group Residency, 2022


– Creative practices
– Interdisciplinarity
– Technologies
– Co-learning
– Individual practice
– Experimentation
– Semi-structured programme
– Expert facilitator/s and guest contributors
– Collective platform for encounters
– Supportive, caring, non-hierarchical environment
– Fully catered
– Immersive experience
– Relationships to land, connections through place
– Location specific, inc. Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site
– Site(responsiveness)
– Cultural and environmental ecologies
– Memory (ecological, material, ruin)
– Imagining futures 
– Publics; participants and audiences


The aim of the Group Residency is to develop approaches to place that are experimental, inventive in their form, and that respond to place by paying attention to the intersections and collisions between art, culture, materiality, technologies and place. Individual experience will be regarded as being not at the world’s centre, but woven into its fabric.

Opportunities are created for creative practitioners and researchers to share and establish a bank of knowledge and creative strategies, both globally interconnected and hyper local, digital and analogue, for imagining new responses to places and the multiple, layered and contested histories they hold. Bringing together residents from a range of areas of practice and research, the potential to create an international network is made possible.


MICRO-MACRO will provide a partially-structured and hands-on programme of site-based ways of working that are shared to enable residents to develop their skills and understanding of how to investigate site as part of a creative practice and for public presentation to a global audience.

The programme is devised around a bespoke itinerary, with carefully crafted indoor sessions that focus on expanded approaches to discussion, presentation, making and sharing. Outdoor sessions will introduce residents to the stunning natural landscape and world-class archaeological sites. Utilising individual practices, residents from diverse cultures and creative disciplines will focus on different ways of responding to place through immersive, connected experience in site, land and weather.

Designed to be supportive, the partially-structured programme will enable residents to develop their skills, and understanding of place across a range of approaches and technologies. The residency experience will stimulate new ways of thinking and experimentation through production, research, co-learning and presentation. The programme will provide a framework and act as a catalyst for deepening observation and expanding awareness of the non-human and human world.

Residents will be able to step out of Linkshouse on to the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route that is inspired by the life and death of Magnus, Orkney’s patron saint. A few minutes walk from Linkshouse at the Atlantic Ocean, Birsay Bay’s 400 million year old spectacular rock structures reflect how landmasses have moved, and how glacial erosion has sculpted the islands that we know today as Orkney. Intricate and immersive geological masses draw us in whilst signalling climate change in the past, perhaps helping us predict future scenarios. These locations along with world heritage archaeological sites will be the positions for a series of tailored sessions.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Gods of the Earth/Gods of the Sea, (with Nicholas Sloan), Portland stone, 74 x 210 x 330 cm.
Commissioned by the Pier Arts Centre and sited in Rousay, Orkney in 2005


Facilitators and residents, from diverse cultures and creative disciplines, will work together and on individual practices through collaborative place-based making processes to generate and present global and local knowledge and strategies for imagining the futures of fragile cultural and environmental ecologies.

Value will be given to the individual knowledge and experience of each resident, and over shared meals, residents and facilitators will expand the time for exchange and developing relationships and networks.

By thinking and doing through the lens of MICRO and MACRO approaches, and analogue-digital relationships, we will explore layered histories whilst inhabiting a stratified landscape that is 400 million years old. Residents will be enabled to activate dynamic haptic, sensory and experiential articulations of place, and to express the psychogeography of space, experimenting with what it means to transpose and transcribe, inventing while sifting through the multiple histories and geographies of carefully chosen locations in the Orkney Islands.

Facilitators and residents will together explore site-responsive and reflective approaches to experiment with the intersection of material and immaterial realms of knowledge and knowing. Residents will be encouraged to traverse internal and external worlds, thinking about deep time, while embracing weather’s sensory and cyclical rhythms.

Sessions will prompt reflection on ruin memory, material memory and ecological memory, life cycles and reclamation, rehabilitation and regeneration. To navigate questions of presence and absence, and the known and unknown, the contradictory dynamics that flow beneath surfaces will be embraced.

Guided walks, visits and readings will take place in lost, renewed or fragile places. Discipline experts in the local community who hold precious knowledge of archaeological sites, abandoned places, architectural and local history past and present, and collecting, archiving and presenting, will contribute to bespoke sessions. The residency programme includes time for residents’ to work in Linkshouse’s work spaces, applying developing knowledge and content gained during the Group Residency to individual practices.


The residency programme will take place in Linkshouse, beside the Atlantic Ocean, and at sites of archaeological, historical and social importance in Orkney, accessible by foot and vehicle.

Residents will be accommodated at Linkshouse, The Pier Arts Centre’s accessible residency facility with studio provision, that is a bequest from Barbara and Edgar Williamson, whose son artist Erlend Williamson drew inspiration from Orkney’s landscape and environment. Linkshouse is situated on the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route, on the Atlantic Ocean and amidst farmlands. Twin and double bedrooms are available. One room is partly accessible.

Linkshouse is fully equipped, and comprises twin and double bedrooms, one of which is partly accessible. Work spaces include ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ spaces.

photographs of Linkshouse and interior spaces by Studio Niro


Orkney is an archipelago of about 70 islands (16 inhabited) off the north coast of Scotland. The highly respected Pier Arts Centre is based in Stromness and curates a year round programme of changing exhibitions and events, and its permanent collection is a Recognised Collection of National Significance to Scotland. Orkney is famed for its natural beauty, archaeological sites and its First and Second World War heritage. It contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe and the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Orkney also has an abundance of marine and avian wildlife, and the sea is almost always visible wherever you are located. Orkney is home to a significant number of artists, writers, musicians, archaeologists etc. and to University bases and a research campus that hosts Orkney’s wide range of energy and low-carbon expertise.

The Group Residency will be centred in the area of The Palace, Birsay, Orkney’s ancient capital, in the islands’ West Mainland. Birsay has sustained communities of Neolithic peoples, Picts, Vikings, and Scottish Royalty and today is home to a multi national community. Outstanding sites include prehistoric and Norse settlements on the tidal island of Brough of Birsay, and the ruins of the Earl’s Palace in the village.


The Group Residency programme will be facilitated by Tracy Mackenna (The Museum of Loss and Renewal), with a number of contributing discipline experts.

Tracy Mackenna (RSA, Professor Emerita; SCO-IT) & Edwin Janssen (Dr; NL) are the founders and co-curators of The Museum of Loss and Renewal. Their collaborative art practice is a creative and discursive site where production, presentation, exchange, co-learning and research meet. The Museum of Loss and Renewal’s key areas of focus address issues of societal concern such as habitation, (personal)histories, (in)formal collections, land futures, land use, (experimental)mapping, and sustainability.

Their focus on place(making), (un)belonging, memory, (personal)narratives and imaginary futures can be seen in projects exhibited and published internationally e.g. Micromegas (perceptions of scale, philosophical & scientific thought and human foible), War as Ever! (scale and the viewer, conflict, looking and art), Rock and Dust | Roccia e Polvere (activating archival material, harmonies and tensions between place, people and time), Ash, Chalk and Charcoal (inherent violence in spatial mark making, in private spaces and public spaces), Friendly Invasions 2034 (modular architectural structure; interplay between audience, place, cultural legacy).

They are highly experienced, award winning educators who have devised and lead multiple group learning projects situated within the international museum and gallery sector, and higher education.

In her individual practice and research Tracy employs drawing, video, walking and writing as dialogical processes to activate playful, provocative and non-linear properties of language within visual art practice, giving new and refreshed voice to collaborators and subject-matters.


The Residency Programme is operated on a non-commercial cost-covering basis, and is financially supported by The Museum of Loss and Renewal in order to keep fees low. The residency fee is £1500 GBP, paid by the resident. It includes the residency programme, accommodation, full board, collection/return to nearest airport/ferry point, accommodation in en-suite rooms, work spaces. Catering (3 meals each day) includes locally sourced Orkney ingredients, and meals prepared by our excellent cook. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be catered for.

A 50% deposit is payable within two weeks of accepting a place on the Group Residency. The remaining 50% is payable six weeks in advance of the start of the Group Residency.

You will be responsible for funding and organising your own travel, your own insurances and any visa requirements particular to your country of origin. Travel information will be supplied (Kirkwall Airport and Orkney Ferries), and collection/drop-off at the beginning and end of the Group Residency will be arranged.

We do not have external funding for this project, so regret that we are unable to offer assistance with fees, travel, production costs or other subsistence. Typically, successful applicants source funding by applying to their national arts funding bodies, personal fundraising, or through academic institutional support. Formal Letters of Invitation can be provided to assist in this process.


Day 01

Arrival (collection on arrival in Orkney), orientation, introductions, dinner.

Days 02-07

Residency Programme e.g. collective and individual (mentored) working sessions, St Magnus Way pilgrimage route, geological shorelines, working sessions at archaeological sites, presentations by programme contributors, Pier Arts Centre curator’s tour etc.

Day 08
Reflection, departure (transport to Orkney departure points)

A detailed programme will be provided to residents before arrival.


The selection process will consider the quality of your work, reason for participation and the potential impact that MICRO-MACRO might have on your practice and/or research.

Applicants should email one PDF document containing the following information to

– Statement: tell us about your practice (300 words)
– Motivation: explain why you wish to participate in this residency. And describe what skills and experience you would like to gain, and what you could contribute (300 words)
– 5 key words that describe your main practice/research interests: these will be shared amongst residents prior to residency
– CV: maximum 1 page. Outline your education and recent work (i.e. exhibitions, commissions, performances, curation, publications)
– Contact details: full name, phone number with country/area code
– Link: to your website/online platform, or documentation of visual/textual info (max 2 pages A4)
– Access: Information about any access requirements if applicable

Title your PDF application doc: FirstNameSecondName_GRMMOrkney_2024

If you are more comfortable submitting an application in another format e.g. recorded audio, video or a combination of these or through a phone call or with the assistance of another person, please email


Successful applicants will be notified within 2 weeks of deadline.

N.B. Applicants who will apply to funding bodies can apply immediately (before MICRO-MACRO deadline). If the offer of a residency place is made this can help support funding applications.

Please note that feedback on unsuccessful applications cannot be provided.