Research project


Sàl (Saltwater) is a collaboration between Dalziel + Scullion and composer Iain Morrison, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, WWI Centenary Art Commissions, in collaboration with An Lanntair.

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Start date

November 2017

Completion date

January 2019

On New Year’s Eve 1918, HMY Iolaire set sail from Kyle of Lochalsh in northwest Scotland, carrying nearly 300 seamen home to the Isle of Lewis after the war. In the early hours of New Year’s Day 1919, the ship sank at the entrance to Stornoway Harbour: 205 servicemen perished in one of the most devastating maritime tragedies in modern British history. To mark the centenary of the tragedy, Dalziel + Scullion’s work Sàl responds to this event and was premiered before Armistice Day in Stornoway and then in December when the Isle of Lewis commemorated the centenary of the tragedy.

Sàl is 115 minutes of new music composed in twelve tracks by Lewis-born composer Iain Morrison and performed by a five-piece band. Dalziel + Scullion accompanied the twelve tracks with twelve short films shot across the islands and specially edited to music. The band performed live in front of the film for the three centenary performances. Later, Sàl was recorded for a CD pressing, with artwork by Dalziel+ Scullion and funded by the Highland Society, London (released 7 November 2019). The live film was re-edited by Dalziel + Scullion as an archival touring version of the work. The BBC produced a two-hour programme related to the creative commissions surrounding the Iolaire, which was broadcast around the time of the centenary.

Other 14-18 NOW artists commissioned for 2018 included Danny Boyle, Peter Jackson, William Kentridge, James McMillan, Ian Rankin, Gillian Wearing and Rachel Whiteread.


Project lead(s)

Matthew Dalziel


Louise Scullion