Notes From a Low Orbit was an artist residency undertaken by Mark Lyken with Alchemy Film & Arts between July and December 2021.

Researching the rhythms, routines and rituals that inform the everyday experiences of Hawick and its communities, Mark collaborated with groups such as Hawick Saxhorn Band, Hawick Boxing Club, Hawick Pump Track, Hawick Scrabble Club, Hawick Film & Video Group, Hawick Archaeological Society and many others to build a cinematic portrait of the town.

Notes From a Low Orbit resulted in a feature film of the same name, made with and about Hawick’s communities, as well as an accompanying publication

On Saturday 30 April 2022, Mark’s film received its world premiere at the twelfth edition of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival. The sold-out screening was preceded by a reception in Heart of Hawick and a live performance by Hawick Saxhorn Band.

Notes From a Low Orbit was part of The Teviot, the Flag and the Rich, Rich Soil, an Alchemy Film & Arts programme exploring the borders, boundaries and lines of Hawick and the Scottish Borders.


Mark Lyken is a film and sound artist based in rural Dumfriesshire, Scotland. His practice pairs observational and durational modes to explore the ethics of image-making, the tensions between structure and chance, and the underknown routines and rhythms that define a place and its people.

Photo: Emma Dove


Year: 2022
Runtime: 90′
Language: English
Accessibility: Descriptive subtitles in English; Audio Description in English

An affectionate portrait of Hawick’s communities, rituals and routines that is deeply invested in the sometimes absurd ways in which a town’s cultural identities are shaped, intuited, lived.

If you’d like to screen this film, please get in touch.


Notes From a Low Orbit is now viewable worldwide on independent streaming platform True Story.

Watch ‘Notes From a Low Orbit’ on True Story.


‘The film captures the absurdity of small-town Scotland … an absolutely charming love letter to the town that’s wry, sweet and brimming over with affection. Like they appear to have done with its maker, Hawick’s residents embraced Notes from a Low Orbit full-heartedly.’

Read an interview with Mark and a review of the film’s world premiere by the Skinny here.


‘A collection of brief snapshots of the day-to-day, Lyken’s film is proof that there is no such thing as ordinary life. Maybe it’s his curious, kind-natured way of looking at people, their rhythms and routines, but scenes here become gently moving in ways that are hard to pinpoint exactly.’

Read the Guardian‘s take on the film here.

Photos: Oliver Benton