Working with others as a teacher or as a collaborator has been a constant feature of my life as an artist for many years. I come from a Hebridean island crofting community where families traditionally worked together on tasks that depended on the support of others - from cutting peat for fuel to harvesting crops or attending to animals. Observing and drawing the human figure at work or at rest is something that many artists are drawn to.
Recent studies produced at life-drawing sessions held at the An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway.
Participants busy practising some drawing skills at my 'Ceum air Cheum' Drawing Class, a project which took place once a week from November 2022 to April 2023 at the Loch a Tuath Community Hut. This Culture Collective initiative funded by Creative Scotland and overseen in our region by the An Lanntair arts centre took in a national network of 26 projects across Scotland, all exploring community-rooted creative activity
A series of small studies on the the theme of 'The Shed' in its many and varied forms - from garage, workshop, outhouse or barn - in oil on board completed in 2021 has now become the focus for a community art project.
Open Studios at the Briggait - 11 May 2019
WASPS supported an artist led initiative for an open studios event at the Briggait that allowed visitors to freely explore this wonderful building and meet many of the artists who work here. The event was a great success with the hot sunny weather helping to encourage an enthusiastic crowd of up to 300 visitors to attend. It was a breath of fresh air - a chance for artists to meet up with one another as well as talking to the visitors about their work.
July 2016 - Launch of the publication 'Le Mùirn' at the Briggait, Glasgow.
'Oran Cladaich' (Shore Song)
Oil on Canvas 80 x 140cm -
It was a chance remark from Margaret MacLeod of the legendary Gaelic group ‘Na h-Òganaich’ that led to the creation of ‘Le Mùirn’, a literary publication featuring contemporary art work from an exhibition inspired by the project. Margaret and I worked together on a Ceòl ’s Craic youth project based in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow in 2014. Along with a team of Gaelic music mentors Margaret was encouraging young people, who had no connection with the language or culture, to learn Gaelic songs and then go on to create their own ‘new Gaelic songs’ – no mean feat! Choosing songs that would inspire the youngsters was a challenge in itself and it was while discussing the possibility of including some of Murdo MacFarlane’s songs, so successfully covered by Na h-Òganaich, that I first heard about Margaret’s treasure trove of correspondence from the poet. It was fascinating to hear the story of how their relationship had developed and when she mentioned that he often added drawings to the letters and song manuscripts he sent her – I realised that we had all the elements for a project that was sure to fire the imagination of writers and artists. Le Mùirn’, commissioned by Ceòl ’s Craic and published by Faram Publications was launched in July 2016 at the Briggait in Glasgow's Merchant City area where the accompanying exhibition was held. The book, written by Gaelic author Catriona Murray, an account of the collaboration between Murdo MacFarlane (1901 – 1982) and Margaret. The huge success of Na h-Òganaich made MacFarlane’s songs world famous confirming his status as an immensely talented song-writer and poet. In this publication Catriona Murray’s description of their relationship is accompanied by handwritten letters and songs from MacFarlane to Margaret. The manuscripts document the unusual collaboration that developed from the early 70’s when the young singer and the seventy-year-old poet began to collaborate on developing the melodies for his songs. They have also proved a rich source of inspiration for the artists who contributed to this publication in recognition of Murdo’s less well-known talent as an artist. Although little evidence remains, other than the few sketches on these manuscripts it’s clear that Murdo had ability as a draughtsman. Through words and images, ‘Le Mùirn’ pays tribute to Murdo MacFarlane’s creativity and captures something of the energy and vitality of the songwriting that has made such a lasting impression on modern Gaelic music and culture. Purchase a copy of Le Mùirn here .
February 2012 - Launch of the publication 'Astar - Glen Tolsta' at An Lanntair, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.
The publication, “ASTAR Glen Tolsta”, published by Faram Publications, was produced to accompany the exhibition of the same name. Featuring an essay by the Gaelic writer and broadcaster, Catriona Murray, the book also includes reproductions of the art work in the exhibition as well as a DVD of the short film, “Rathad a’ Ghlinne” (The Glen Road). View here - follow the link below to make a purchase online. Astar - Glen Tolsta
Review of 'Astar - Glen Tolsta' by Roger Hutchison.
ASTAR (distance, journey) explores the concept of journeying through time, to retrace the history of five families who in 1843 left their homes in the Park district of Lewis and settled in the uninhabited Glen Tolsta, Although the glen subsequently became home to a thriving community it virtually disappeared in the period after the second world war, only a few generations later. A search for the origins of the Glen Tolsta community and a wider examination of who we belong to and where we come from was the genesis of this exhibition. The location acts as a fulcrum for the work of the three artists, Anne Campbell, Mairi Morrison and Ishbel Murray, who collaborated on the project and their individual responses reveal the complex interweaving of island family histories.