BBC Scotland “Out of Doors”

On Monday 12th January, Sarah Maclean and Lesley Harrison were interviewed by Mark Stephen for the “Out of Doors” programme, discussing discussing the booklet “Wells and vennels : a watery history of old Dundee”.

The booklet contains 15 ink drawings and short texts which recount aspects and anecdotes of mediaeval life around Dundee’s wells, ditches and burns, which are now subsumed into the modern sewer system.

In ‘Out of Doors’ we visit the packhouses, which once fronted the shoreline, and talk about the burn that runs/ran past the door of the Registry Office, which couples must cross to tie the knot.

Listen here to Out of Doors, Saturday 17th Jan 2015.


Poetry and Anthropology ~ evening lecture



Dr Jo Vergunst, Dept of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen   and   Lesley Harrison, poet.

Tuesday 4th November, 7.30pm.   Regent Building Lecture Theatre.  FREE

This event is part of the King’s College Lectures, and also an event in the ESCR Festival of Social Sciences.

Wells and Vennels …. the Fleshmarket, Dundee

the fleshmarket 001

The Fleshmarket

In 1560 the burgesses of the town decided to build a dedicated market place for meat. This triangular building (opposite St Paul’s Church) was set at the end of the Marketgait, between the middens and the Castle Burn. It had twelve booths, eight with lofts, plus two seats at the front and a shop at the far end. The rubble of the Greyfriars monastery provided stones.

The drove roads of the Angus glens were wild and remote, and full of cattle reevers. So that the honest provenance of all meat could be assured, those offering a carcass to the fleshers were required to bring it with the skin, hide and head still on, so that aggrieved owners might recognise their own missing beasts.


WELLS AND VENNELS : A WATERY HISTORY OF OLD DUNDEE, by Sarah Maclean and Lesley Harrison.

Feature in The Courier on 15th Nov 2014. For sale at Dundee Literary Festival Ex Libris on 26th October, and at the Unicorn Christmas Fayre on 7th December.

Wells and Vennels

Wells and Vennels ~ a watery history of old Dundee

by Sarah Maclean and Lesley Harrison


This wee booklet grew out of a chance conversation and a summer of urban safari. The original quest was to pinpoint the wells and burns around which the city of Dundee grew, and which are now subsumed into the modern sewer system. The main findings became part of the Creative Scotland/Scottish Natural Heritage project Making Space for Water; but many curious notes were gathered by the by, and were the inspiration for Sarah’s ink drawings.

Sarah Maclean is an illustrator and artist. She lectures in art & design at Angus College.

The booklet has 15 drawings and notes, and costs £8 inc p&p. For sale at Waterstones, Dundee; or via email to

Further North ~ 5th September 2014

The Northern Peripheries Network held its final conference at the University of Northumbria on 4-5 September. On Day 2, Lesley spoke about the Making Space for Water Project and about her ongoing work using whaling journals to explore an idea of north based in the aesthetic of the north-east of Scotland, looking out over the North Sea and into the colder currents and weather systems at the horizon.

Callum Innes, Exposed Paintings. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.

Themes during the conference were

how we in-habit our landscape, with the emphasis on “in”. There is a soft border between the ground and the sky, and this intermediate layer is the layer we inhabit

where the north actually is: is it a designation based on latitude, or temperature, or ecology? is it a negation of other things?

a ‘northern’ concept of history, based on migration, on movement through the world. should all history be written this way?

language gives access to landscape; words become embedded memory


Out of Ice / Reading and Exhibiting Nature

untitled (3) untitled (4)

The University of Westminster is convening a three-day conference in February to examine how nature is being understood in contemporary cultural and artistic work. Artists, researchers and thinkers will discuss the shifting definitions of nature, focussing on the polar and near-polar regions.

This conference accompanies the excellent and spectacular Out of Ice, an exhibition by visual artist Elizabeth Ogilvie.

Dr Jo Vergunst is a speaker as well as a conference organiser; Lesley Harrison will discuss her work as part of the Making Space for Water project, as well as her other writing on whaling and polar exploration.


More info at :