Tarlair: the curious ramblings of Robert Hythloday, his upbringing, music and occupational mourning (otherwise known as
the Ideal Life Lifeguard)
Tarlair Open Air Swimming Pool (located on the edges of Macduff, Banffshire) perpetuates in its ruinous state: a relic of the bygone era of outdoor swimming and leisure facilities. As one of the few remaining sites of the kind in Scotland - that hasn’t been either demolished or privately redeveloped into a hyper-modernised, water-wonderland, hot house - countless proposals have been put forward by the local community to either restore it to a somewhat safe capacity, or to re-appropriate the site for functional means, such as an oyster or lobster farm. These failed proposals call into question the ongoing, problematic relationship found with the state ownership of communally-run, civic spaces.
Involving architectural investigation, research into archived community and council reports, performance, speculative writing and the beginnings of a proposal for a staged music event at the space, the project is a continually expanding one - given Tarlair’s rich and stimualting recent history.
This initially unravelled as a two-day performance at the site in January 2020. Posing as Robert Hytholoday, a nostalgic lifeguard who mourns for the loss of both a leisure and a workplace, the character whistles, chants and plays the guitar around the edges of the pool - attempting to summon what life may endure there. He recites the stories of his grandfather, who explained the wonders of a fanciful pool in another life, yearning to return. And from these stories, Robert is able to weave his own ‘Swimming Song’.
Below are a small selection of images from this performance; alongside other examples of ongoing research.