Timothy Neat

Timothy Neat's Fife ancestry goes back thousands of years, and he has lived in Wormit since 1973. His films include Hallaig (1985), The Tree of Liberty (1987) and Play Me Something (1989) and have won a number of awards including Barcelona’s Europe Prize and Best Documentary in the Celtic Countries. His books include Part Seen, Part Imagined (1994), The Summer Walkers (1996) about the Highland travelling people, and a two-volume biography of Hamish Henderson. He writes poetry and has worked closely with Anne Michaels, John Berger, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Jean Redpath, Charles Causley, Seamus Heaney, Will Maclean and many others. He is currently working on a film of drawings for the Image de Ville Festival, Aix-en-Provence, and is writing a book on the art of the Iraqi-Scots artist Nael Hanna.

Photo: Jamie Chambers


Meet the Artist »

A chance to hear from writer and filmmaker Timothy Neat

Sun 5 March | 14:30 - 15:15 | FREE | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Conference Room

Hallaig »

The poetry and landscape of Sorley MacLean captured on film by Timothy Neat

Sun 5 March | 15:30 - 16:45 | FREE | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


Hamish Henderson’s Last Good Night

A body broke the clouds below me,
rising Tinteretto-like an arm and man
came up at me through space
– his left hand reaching for my right –
half the world was spread beneath us,
his grasp not worth the name.

I am become the Morning Star, he whispered,
my hour in the night-sky of life falls away,
the light of the morning of daybreak has found me,
this glisten of sweat is death having its way.

Life-long imprints the palm slipping from me,
in slow-motion a life is unlocking for ever:
the voice coming up is now thought more than whisper
– I loved you like a father and a son -
the secret is both one and all
as Cornishmen would say.

Hark Away! The Raven rolls his glossy wing – Hark Away!
A lady bird's alighted on my breeches by the bed – Hark Away!
Ben Vorlich’s there, and Dublin Toon
and Auld Reekie like a lang dried rose.

Look on me now, not as I am
but as I was – in song –
when I was young
and in the Apennines,
in Italy, in sun.

The darkest hour is moments now and long
– my strength light-years away –
back into the melting pot I go: I joke!
these rolling captions mark the end;

as when I sang John Berger out onto the Barra Strand,
Addio! Addio! It was in music those words came,
like beastings atop a milking pail.
‘The first and last of life is herding’
and that song older than all stories told.

Ah look – the sun is up –
easing its shadow down Glas Maol,
lighting the brig o’er the Glenshee Water.
look - there on the road the rain lights to the hill -
a piper leaning on his son:

The Siege of Delhi fills my ears.
The Siege of Delhi:
sounding across the sands
as it did when he went down, at Anzio.


The sound of oars, rested and dripping:
fluorescent the boys who dive the Blue Grotto,
amber the nectar in Keith and Kinross –
the Green Man and the Jew’s harp!

Listen – I hear it! –
The tin-whistle's out...

Euphoric – I see Schiehallion illumined –
Ask Margaret sing, The Cave of Gold.
Ask Janet come. It was for Life and Love I sang.
I see Him shining in her eyes – my Champion.


Timothy Neat

From THESE FACES - Photographs and Drawings (Polygon, 2013)