Mirror Land: Mirror Van, Mirror Me – after Don Van Vliet

13 June 2011 | blog, comment

Mirror Van, Mirror Me


I’m wondering why I find this so interesting – this glistening caravan. It looks as though a mysterious, Tardis-like object has suddenly appeared at Brodgar.

But then why does it suit the landscape so well? It’s just a box with wheels. Does the box have mirrored sides, or is the countryside simply painted on? Why are the entrance steps so wide – are they expecting many people to disappear into this shining world? Can you see out once you‘re inside?

I’m reminded of the old bus on the Outertown Road that was used as a greenhouse – maybe it still is. The touring tomato plants from KW16… But who needs a postcode if you are a mobile allotment? The bus had no engine last time I saw it so its touring days are probably over – but still, it signifies movement, pleasure, discovery and a different future.

It’s something to do with the temporary nature of technology and the merits of machinery in the landscape over the dull and domestic. The box and the bus are related. In their different ways each sparkles there – for now – while newer, permanent homes, on which so much care and attention is lavished, appear as so much dull subtraction.

This is No. 4 in the Hoy Brae Series, 2011, published in association with Hoy, Here & There www.hoyhereandthere.co.uk
Mirror Land (Mirror Van, Mirror Me) (after Don Van Vliet) by Willie Miller, 2011, www.williemiller.co.uk
Photograph by Alistair Peebles, August 2010, from the Ness of Brodgar looking towards Hoy
Brae Editions Buckquoy, Harray, Orkney, KW17 2JS, www.alistairpeebles.com