MacGillivray is the Highland name of writer and artist Kirsten Norrie. Brought up internationally within a military context and living for a significant period of time in both England and Northern Ireland, Norrie returned to Scotland after studying at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford where she received a doctorate in Performance and Scottish Identity; her thesis was entitled Cloth, Cull and Cocktail: Anatomising the Performer Body of 'Scotland'. She was nominated for PRS/Help Musicians Scottish Performer of the Year in 2017.
She has published two books of poetry, The Last Wolf of Scotland (Pighog/Red Hen, 2013) and The Nine of Diamonds: Surroial Mordantless (Bloodaxe Books, 2016). A third, The Gaelic Book of the Dead, is due from Bloodaxe in February 2019. Her non-fiction work, Scottish Lost Boys (as by Kirsten Norrie), is due from Stranger Attractor/The MIT Press in autumn 2018.
MacGillivray has worked as a performance artist with the European collective The Wolf in the Winter, with The Parlour Collective and solo in Greenland, Germany, the Netherlands, Vietnam, United States, UK, Spain and Norway alongside recording eight albums: Wolf, Radiophonic Subluna, Radio Beating Heart, Horse Sweat Chandelier, Once Upon A Dirty Ear, In My End is My Beginning, Watermarked in Flame (Antigen Records) and a Gaelic record, Clach-gheurachaidh. Her music has appeared on the BBC, for film soundtracks Swandown Channel 4/Britdoc, 2012 and By Our Selves, 2015 by British director Andrew Kotting in which she appeared in a cameo opposite Toby Jones. She has performed internationally with The Fall, Arlo Guthrie, Arthur Brown, Shirley Collins, Michael Moorcock, Vic Godard, Toby Jones, Alan Moore, Jem Finer (The Pogues), Current 93, Gallon Drunk, Iain Sinclair, Trembling Bells, Thurston Moore, B. Catling and Band of Susans, playing electric autoharp, grand and toy piano, harmonium and dulcitone and integrated with readings. In 2017 she recorded Sitting Bull's great grandson reading from The Last Wolf of Scotland and in 2018 was commissioned to create a Gaelic film set in the ancient Caledonian Forest.
Her writing has appeared in Magma, ASLS New Writing Scotland, The Scotsman, Test Centre Magazine, Be the First to Like This (a new generation of Scottish voices by the Scottish Poetry Library), Art Monthly, Performance Research, By Our Selves (a book accompanying the film alongside essays by Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore), Strange Attractor and Gutter Magazine. In 2013 she received Creative Scotland funding to write a non-fiction work Scottish Lost Boys with new material presented on child actor Jon Whiteley and Scottish director Bill Douglas. In 2015 she was selected to represent Scottish poetry alongside Ryan Van Winkle and William Letford at the Queensland Poetry Festival, Australia by Creative Scotland and with a further award in 2015 is setting the poetry of Mary Queen of Scots to music. She has taught at the Universities of Oxford, Cheltenham and Gloucester and Edinburgh College of Art. After living for many years in Edinburgh, she is now based in Oxford.
Books by MacGillivray