Glasgow Innovation School Product Design

Calum MacKinnon Ferguson (he/him/his)

Peat Coin in Hand

I am an Artist/Maker working in a range of media from installation to film. My work is heavily influenced by the relationships between the human and non-human. Ecology, land-use and creating sustainable futures are all central to my creative practice. Using innovative and sustainable materiality to explore intricate environmental, ethical and social matters. Having grown up in the Outer Hebrides, the rugged and unique islands’ environment has constantly influenced my work.  The biodiversity, barren land/seascapes and strong Gaidhlig culture that surrounds me has been crucial in shaping my practice. Seeing first hand the fragility of the land, weather, erosion and human impact has shaped a consistent theme of sustainability within my work and the need for more awareness of our natural environment.

Peat Coin in Hand


‘Athurachadh’ is a response to the current difficulties seen by young people and new entrants to crofting amidst the culmination of events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the island’s housing crisis and the effects of the climate crisis. My design aims to ignite conversation around the lack of access to crofting for young people and new entrants to crofting. The work questions the future of crofting, its sustainability and its accessibility for young people within the context of the Isle of North Uist.

‘Athurachadh’ are talismans of each piece of croftland. Holding the worth of an individual area of land, the holder of the ‘Athurachadh’ talisman is the custodian to that piece of land. They hold the responsibility to see that croft is used appropriately or pass the talisman on to someone who will for-fill that duty of care.

With ‘Athurachadh’ the land is no longer equatable to a monetary figure, instead to the practices and livelihood that the land can uphold.

The images below are series of satirical, provocative signs which were placed and photographed to act as an access point to my design. Visually communicating the context in which the ‘Athurachadh’ talismans exist and the urgency for innovation and reform to allow young people to thrive in crofting communities.

Left to Right

‘RI REIC’ (for sale, bothie, without electricity or water, offers beyond anything you could afford) ‘GUN A BHITH AG OBAIR’ (this croft has gone 99 month without being worked) ‘PLOTAICHEAN TAIGHE (House Plots, Phone:01632663439) (Acrylic paint on reclaimed MDFboard)

lino print fianl touch up

Comharran Chaorach

I used the shapes cut into the ears of the sheep and simplified them into geometric shapes within a ring in order to develop a system that would make each coin/talisman unique to a certain piece of land. The use of ear notching is reflective upon traditional methods of crofting and an example of how forgotten practices could be brought back into crofting in a non destructive way.

Alternative Materilaity

I felt it would be important for the materials themselves to speak of the individual places, people and practices that take place within a given crofting environment. My final objects were constructed from seaweed, wool and soil.

Bidh talismans ‘Athurachadh’ a cuideachadh seann chroitearan ann a bhith a’ toirt fearann ​​air adhart don ghinealach as òige agus a ’toirt air chroitearan smaoineachadh air an dòigh as fheàrr air an fhearann ​​a chleachdadh ann an dòigh a tha mothachail do thraidiseanan agus cultar agus buannachdail dhan daonna agus neo-dhaonna is cuideachd ris an àrainneachd.

(The talismans of ‘Athurachadh’ create a legacy for older crofters in passing land on to the younger generation and gives a duty of care for crofters to think about how that land is best used in a way that is considerate to local traditions and culture and beneficial to the local and global human and non-human populations and the environment.)

Talisman Made from wool on grassland

Geàrraidh (Pastureland) 40mm Diameter, Hebridean Sheep Wool, Bio-resin

Tha am bonn seo a ’riochdachadh nan aiteachean a tha a’ cleachdadh airson ionaltradh agus fàs fodar geamhraidh air a dhèanamh bho chlòimh chaorach Innse Gall, a tha fada nas freagarraiche don fhearann ​​seo na na briodan eile a tha a-nis air àite a ghabhail. (This coin represents the fields used for grazing and growing winter fodder is made from the wool of native Hebridean sheep, a selective grazer much better suited to this land than the commercial breeds which have now taken its place.)
Seaweed talisman placed on sandy machair ground.

Machrach (Machair Land) 50mm diameter, seaweed, corn strach

Tha am bonn seo a ’riochdachadh fearann ​​am Machair. Air a dhèanamh le feamainn bhon chladach ri thaobh,tha feamainn thaist a’ sgaoileadh mar thodhar organach.(This coin represents the fertile Machair land. Made from seaweed from the adjacent shore, symbolising the spreading of seaweed as an organic fertiliser.)
Coin made of peaty soil

Monadh (Moorland) 50mm Peat Talisman, Peaty Soil

Tha am bonn seo a ’riochdachadh na mòintich agus talamh beinne air a dhèanamh de poll dorcha mònach, tha an talamh fhèin mar a ’mhaoin as motha a bh’ ann, a chaidh e a losgadh gu anns na dachaighean. se sinc carbon as motha san eilean agus àrainn shònraichte.(This coin that represents the peatlands and hill ground is made of the dark peaty soil, the ground itself being its biggest asset, in the past, burned to heat homes now stands as possibly the islands biggest carbon sink and a unique habitat.)