New artistic chapter for Tigh
artistic idyll has been created in South Lochs as The
Artists’ Workshop at Tigh Alasdair Ruaraidh, 1 Garyvard,
finally opened its doors to the public on Saturday August 9.
brainchild of Aberdeen’s Rendezvous Gallery owner Duane Mead
– who bought the derelict property a number of years ago and
has since financed and overseen its restoration – The
Artists’ Workshop offers something new to the islands’ art
scene: not only a place of quiet to contemplate and find
inspiration, but also a handy residence to allow both island
and visiting mainland artists the chance to truly get away
from it all.
pleased with how it has all turned out,” said Duane.
community is also appreciative as it’s the first business of
this type to go into South Lochs. I think we’ve put some
vitality into this peninsula.”
empty for 15 years before purchased by Duane, Tigh Alasdair
Ruaraidh is historically one of the most important buildings
on the South Lochs peninsula.
1930s there was no road to the Lochs district, meaning all
supplies from Stornoway arrived by boat to the loch-side
quay situated next to the house. There was also a general
store next to Tigh Alasdair Ruaraidh which was the source of
supplies for the local community.
in 1938, the house became the centre for a local religious
revival with meetings held next to the shore until the
Second World War began in 1939.
latest use of Tigh Alasdair Ruaraidh sees yet another
chapter added to its history – one which looks set to run
long into the future and has already proved influential in
the development of island art.
past two years a series of mainland and island artists’
residencies have taken place at the renovated house and
byre-turned-studio, and island artists have also had the
opportunity to exhibit their work in The Rendezvous Gallery
through ‘The Gaelic Connection Exhibition No 1’.
between east and west coast are to be further strengthened
by ‘The Gaelic Connection Exhibition No 2’, due to take
place in The Rendezvous Gallery next month; and The Artists’
Workshop looks set to be kept busy next year with interest
from both the RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in
Watercolour) and the RSA (Royal Scottish Academy).
“To have both
academies involved puts the workshop at the high academic
and artistic level and it’s something I never expected,”
President of the RSA has visited the house and the studio
and is very excited by them. They are now considering the
establishment of a two week residency next year and the RSW
will also be setting up a one week residency, subsidised by
Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management.”
The Artists’ Workshop is being managed and enjoyed by local
artist Sandra Kennedy.
lovely, really peaceful and right on the shore of this
little peninsula. I’ve spent the day painting and watching
the tide go in and out, it’s wonderful,” she said of the
workshop’s inspiring location.
to have something in this area as there has been nothing so
far and now there is a really good connection to mainland
artists, and also a place for people to look at and buy
mainland artists’ work alongside what is being created by
artists featuring in the Workshop project and Gaelic
Connection exhibitions alongside Sandra include Willie
Fulton, Simon Rivett, Anne Campbell, Kenneth Murray, Moira
MacLean, Christine Dodd, Jon Macleod, Emma Drye, and Kenneth
in Residence from the mainland include Frances Walker, RSA,
RSW, Ann Patrick, Liz Myhill, Barry McGlashan, Jenny Hunter,
Tom Mabon, Anthony Campbell, Wei Li Zhu, Ross Brown, Gordon
Bryce and RSW president John Ingles.
Open to the
public, Tuesdays to Saturdays, until September 15, The
Artists’ Workshop currently boasts a total of 55 works by
both mainland and local artists, with one topic dominating
the show – the Western Isles.
“It’s quite a
nice contrast seeing mainland artists’ works next to
islanders,” commented local artist Moira MacLean, who
enjoyed a residency at Tigh Alasdair Ruaraidh in May this
“You see the
different points of view – those that live here see the
island differently to those who visit – and it makes for a
very interesting and enjoyable exhibition.”
proving a success, the potential for Tigh Alasdair Ruaraidh
is visibly stunning, as An Lanntair Arts Centre director,
Roddy Murray, commented: “It’s a workshop yes, in a fairly
basic sense, but what makes it different and special is that
it’s a residence. It allows artists the time, the space, the
place to clear their heads, re-focus and re-boot. Artists
need inspiration and it’s there in abundance.”
expanding on the positives such a project has already
brought, and will continue to bring, to the South Lochs
area: “Duane deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done.
“He took over
a semi-derelict property and transformed it. It could easily
have been yet another holiday home – empty most of the year
– but it’s a bespoke regeneration that has breathed life
into the area bringing in a turnover of new people on a
too, they actually engage with the place. It’s one more
reasons to take that turning at the Balallan road-end and
explore South Lochs, which I think is one of the least
visited but most interesting areas of the island.
artists in residence there subsequently become ambassadors
for the place.”
“It’s become a part of the community there I think. Perhaps
those of us from the island can sometimes take things for
granted a bit, but the mainland artists who come here – and
they include academicians and national figures – feel they
are somewhere truly special.”
Thursday, August 21, 2008