Carolyn Hillyer & Nigel Shaw

Carolyn Hillyer & Nigel Shaw,

Ancestral Traditions of the British Islands

CAROLYN HILLYER & NIGEL SHAW are renowned musician & artists who have lived and worked on an ancient hill farm in the feral heart of Dartmoor for 30 years. Their work is inspired by the raw beauty, untamed spirit and primordial memory of sacred and ancestral land. Their creative output includes music albums and concerts, books and workshops, paintings and art installations, traditional instrument making and the creation of a large neolithic-style ceremonial roundhouse on their farm. Their live performances and recorded albums form a mystical weave of ancient instruments, wild songs and tender music, using many flutes and drums they have made themselves. Nigel carves flutes that carry the songs of these islands, using woods indigenous to Britain. Carolyn creates traditional frame drums from skins sourced from the moor and prepared by hand. They have travelled across the world with their work, including Australia, USA, Japan, Jamaica, Canada, Central & South America, Siberian Arctic, Russia, throughout Europe and Britain. Their concert tours have carried them from mountain temple to tundra camp, from festival tent to ritual cave; they also regularly host intimate evenings of music and myth on Dartmoor.

CAROLYN has braided painting, writing, singing, workshop teaching, drum-making and other strands into her work over the last 30 years. She has written 12 solo albums and co-created many others. Her early albums occupy an iconic place within women’s sacred music and she has accumulated a potent archive of songs born from hearth mysteries, feral trails, the weave of magic and the power of sister circles. Her paintings of life-size archetypal spirit women define the essence and edges of her unusual perspective on women’s spiritual journeys and the ancient mythological landscape; she has exhibited them many times as large shrine installations. Her series of books include the exceptionally popular Weavers’ Oracle and her original interpretation of the Proto-Celtic language Her Bone Bundle. She teaches powerful workshop journeys for women that weave together ritual song, intuitive ceremony, ancient initiations and direct interaction with wild land. Her workshops take place on Dartmoor, around the world and online, including her online teaching programme, Weavers’ Trail: A Women’s Soul Pilgrimage.

NIGEL founded the Seventh Wave Music label in 1985 and over forty years has produced a profound and diverse collection of recordings. His soul-filled instrumental works and his ability to infuse his music with a powerful yearning for wild nature have come to define a unique approach to sacred sound. His ambient albums honour the raw ancient moorland landscape, the sweet beauty of night and the intricacy of the mourning journey. He has also created and directed musically dynamic projects such as Bones (celebration of ancient people and lament for remembered land), Ancestors (composed around indigenous songs gathered during his travels to the Siberian Arctic) and Exile (honouring the human experience of loss of home). He is co-founder and performer with Bamboo Cedar Oak, a brotherhood of master flute players that reaches from the USA to Japan. For thirty years his work has embraced the wilder strands of electronic shamanic dance music with the vintage festival band Global and the new Global Collective.

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