The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

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The Wee Hauf,
(Islay 2000)
Terracotta Puffers,
Cowall Fest Argyll & Bute, (2005)
The Vital Spark,
Kelvingrove, Glasgow (2006)

Described as 'sea-going lorries' -taking their cargoes to small and, often, remote areas - puffers carried cargoes that are now transported by road. George Wyllie had an affection for the wee vessels and regretted the fact that they were no longer used, both for the skills involved and for the environment. He asked questions about how goods are transported today.

In 2001, the artist worked with seven schools in Argyll & Bute, as pupils found out about the puffer trade which had once been so important in their area, and decorated small puffers he had made, and designed their own 'puffers of the future'. They also read about life for the crew of a puffer in Neil Munro stories in his "Para Handy's Tales" and wrote their own stories and poems about them.

George Wyllie wrote a letter to the Glasgow Herald at the time, suggesting more use could be made of the Clyde for transporting both goods and people...

"Perhaps the writer suffers the daily frustration of looking over an empty Clyde, and like me wonders why the potential of this great waterway is being disregarded.

In all of the suggestions as to how to ease road congestion there is hardly a mention of transferring some of the road traffic on to our waterways...

Surely the shipbuilders should at least be assessing the viability of this much-needed form of transport, whether for goods or passengers."

And then there were puffers...
*Scottish Schools GW Archive
Terracota Puffers (this is a link to a page on
7 Vital Sparks (this is a link to a page on

George Wyllie Education Initiative

Managed by Media Matters Education Consultancy