The Outer Hebrides are full of world class artists, musicians, writers, performers and creative practitioners. An Lanntair is proud to be connected with many of these through its ‘Professional Associates’. The following are just some of the incredibly talented artists and creative practitioners from the islands.
To blog and connect with other Professional Associates, go to the Professional Associates Blog
If you are interested in becoming a Professional Associate to An Lanntair, please do get in touch with Elly Fletcher, CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
"Campbell rises above all other references and stakes his claim to being one of the country’s truly great pop songwriters”.
Willie Campbell is a Scottish singersongwriter based on the Isle of who first came to widespread attention co-fronting indie contenders Astrid, and as a founding member of Gary Lightbody’s Reindeer Section. His current creative guise, The Open Day Rotation, have released two critically acclaimed albums, 2008 debut, Down by the Head, and Toxic Good Toxic Bad, the latter produced by Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian).
Steve Dilworth is renowned for his use of a vast range of natural materials, mostly found around the remote Isle of Harris, Scotland, where he lives. He imagines his sculptures or objects belonging to a tribe which doesn’t exist and often the internal and external parts of his sculptures are considered equal whether visible or not. “I create objects that I feel are archetypal and connect us on a deep internal level. I use materials in which I find some sort of energy and make things out of them”.
Dilworth’s first solo exhibition entitled ‘Acts of Faith’, toured throughout Scotland in 1991 and 1992. This exhibition was followed by ‘The Shamanism of Intent’ at Goldmark Gallery and his work was featured in the Worlds in a Box exhibition organised by the Southbank Centre, which then toured the UK for the British Arts Council. In 2002, Dilworth’s work was featured in ‘Thinking Big’ at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, in 2006–07 Dilworth exhibited in ‘Evolution’, an exhibition with Peter Randall–Page, Damien Hirst and Jon Buck, at Pangolin Gallery. Dilworth has also exhibited internationally, in Chicago, Illinois, Hawaii, Switzerland and Germany.
Beka Globe came to Harris when she was just 11 years old. She studied photography and darkroom techniques at Napier University in Edinburgh. There she was inspired by Ansel Adams’ landscapes, Paul Strand’s portaits and Hiroshi Sugimoto’ seascapes. Having travelled extensively, photographing America and New Zealand she returned to the Hebrides to explore her roots in the landscape she first viewed through the lens. Here she captures an emotive vastness, depth and simplicity. Her silent images are deeply moving, stirring a particular sense of place.
Nickolai was born into clay, raised in the family pottery in the Far North West of Scotland. In 1986 went to work with COBRA Group ceramic artist Erik Nyholm in Denmark. There assisted Erik on large scale architectural ceramics and a major retrospective sculpture Exhibition. Following Denmark, Nickolai studied traditional wood fired production. Here he gained discipline in producing traditional, functional, wood fired, stoneware pottery whilst studying ceramics at Southampton University. Nickolai then moved to Australia where he set up his own studio and produced sculptural ceramics from brick clay and exhibited widely. During this time he worked closely with Thanakupi - Aboriginal Elder and international ceramic artist.
Now he works on The Isle of Harris, on the outer shelf of Europe. High fired earthenware, porcelain, stoneware and local minerals is his palette, the process of metamorphosis his study. His work takes ceramics to the edge of craft, where sculpture and function merge. Traditions dissolved through constant experimentation. His high fired stoneware bowls and vessel forms become geological and carry with them a deeper reflection of the physical landscape. Fusing glass and local minerals into his work they literally embody the landscape.
Sandra Kennedy born in the Isle of Lewis, studied sculpture at Grays School of Art, and later scenography at Central St Martins College of Art. Interests are the relationship between people and their environment, intuitive sense of place.
Moira Maclean is from Lewis and is an MFA graduate from Grays School of Art, Aberdeen. She has made a practice of ‘raiding’ the abandoned croft houses of the Islands, usually to collect old wallpaper, which she uses to explore issues of dereliction, decay, transience and diaspora from a female, domestic perspective. The accretions of recovered wallpaper from the Sail Loft in Stornoway, prior to its redevelopment, comprised a key piece in An Lanntair’s inaugural show.
The Outer Hebrides are saturated in tradition, custom and folklore, drawing on Irish (Gaelic) culture, Scandinavian (Viking) influence and all parts between. Some practices have disappeared, some have endured. Some faintly echo or dimly reflect the past. Some resonate. An island, a village, a house, a person can be a crucible for beliefs and practices, where culture grows as on a Petri dish. Her 2011 exhibition at An Lanntair Buisneachd, (Gaelic for witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment), focused on these ideas: about the home, the hearth, the earth and the ether. Domestic detritus, mirrors, bibles, accretions of wallpaper and images of abandoned spaces, insinuate unseen forces and unsettling, sometimes malign, influences.
Jon Macleod is an artist and curator working across art forms and borders, exploring cultural and semiotic themes through a range of solitary and socially engaged strategies.
In recent years this has led to a series of collaborations with Finnish artists through exhibitions, residencies and a tall ship journey. Jon is currently developing a group of collaborative projects as part of the Làrach collective.
Kevin MacNeil, born and raised in Stornoway, is an internationally acclaimed, multi award-winning author. His books include poetry (Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides, Canongate), aphorisms (Be Wise Be Otherwise, Canongate) and novels (The Stornoway Way, Penguin; A Method Actor's Guide to Jekyll and Hyde, Polygon; new novel The Brilliant & Forever is published by Polygon in Spring 2016). He has also worked hard to promote Highland and Scottish literature on projects that resulted in books such as These Islands We Sing: Scottish Islands Poetry (Polygon), Struileag: Cladach gu Cladach (Polygon) and Wish I Was Here: A Scottish Multicultural Anthology (Pocketbooks). MacNeil has taught creative writing at various universities (Edinburgh, Uppsala, Kingston) and residential writing centres (Moniack Mhor, Totleigh Barton). He occasionally writes book reviews and cycling features for specialist and mainstream publications and collaborates with Willie Campbell on music projects.
Visit KevinMacNeil.com for information, reviews, photography and miscellaneous reflections on books, bikes and buddhas.
Calum has been involved in Gaelic Music for most of his adult life in one capacity or another. He started his recording and song- writing career in 1979 as a founder member of the Gaelic Folk Rock band Island Express with the release of their first and only Album (Making Tracks). After the band split in 1982 he continued to work as a solo artist with the release of a further two (all Gaelic) albums (The Megantic Outlaw in 1983 and Gael Force in 1988) before commencing a new career as a full time Gaelic Music Instructor in Primary and Secondary schools on the Isle of Lewis in 1992.
He has released a further three albums in 2007, 2010, and his latest Album Frayvn has just been launched on Aug 14th 2015.
Keith is a musician, sound technician, film creator and entrepreneur. Keith is best known as being a founding member of local celtic band 'Face The West' and owner of the local creative studio 'Wee Studio' which has been recording music and film since 2008 as well as looked after most of the sound and lighting services for events around Lewis and Harris. Keith has been performing and recording music professionally since 1999 at the tender age of 15. Keith has recently started two new businesses. Hebridean Wedding Story which films weddings in a modern cinematic style and Eilean Audio which composes score and does sound mixing for broadcast TV and film.
My practice is based on a need to be out in the natural environment, either on land or sea. Primarily I make work by researching data and information relevant to a specific location and from a personal / emotional response to place. I strive to avoid referencing the romantic, idealistic or sublime notion of landscape. Viewing data of natural phenomena facilitates my entry into the landscape. I research data relevant to hours of daylight, wind patterns, times and heights of tides; patterns and rhythms emerge from this information, which in turn, formulate ideas for re-presentation of the ephemeral and the unseen in a visual way.
This re-presentation can be through the medium of sculpture, video, drawing, printmaking, unique books or as a site-specific temporary installation, made directly within the landscape.
Having started her performing life as a piper, Anna has moved effortlessly to the worlds of song, drama and TV presenting and to date has three solo albums of traditional piping and song under her belt. She was a member of the highly successful "Gaelic" and "Scottish Women" music projects and was the first Gaelic singer to take part in Moscow's Scottish Festival in 2002. She has returned to her roots and now teaches piping to the next generation of young pipers on Lewis.
Mary is one of the Island's most respected traditional singers and a frequent representative of the tradition at overseas festivals. Mary is also a visual artist who taught in Australia and throughout the Western Isles for many years. Her album "Sgiath Airgid", released in 2004, was long overdue and included a critically acclaimed selection of songs from throughout the Islands. As well as Gaelic song, Mary Smith’s experience and skills stretch across a wide range of areas, from Gaelic book illustration to screenprinting, to curating. Mary published her book of Gaelic songs and photographs in 2006 “Sheòl Mi’n Uiridh” and has worked with the BBC since 1967 on numerous productions.
After studying Fashion Product Design and Innovation at The University of Creative Arts, Rochester, Kent and completing an internship at Timothy Everest Bespoke Tailor, Spitalfields, London; I apprenticed myself to a traditional kilt maker in Stornoway. Having completed my apprenticeship and started a family I established ‘Diggory Brown’ as a bespoke kilt making business specialising in using locally woven Harris and Breanish Tweed cloth.
Over the past six years this design and production business has grown progressively to complete kilt, accessory and garment orders for individual clients alongside display and trade orders for businesses within the fashion (Christopher Kane), television (Katie Morag), music (KT Tunstall) and textile industries (Melin Twegwynt).
I'm focusing on collaborative research and development design and production work with Uist Wool and Zero Waste Scotland, to explore the reduction of waste in contemporary work wear design through the implementation of closed loop production. The designs from this project are due to go to trial in October with a view to some items being released for sale in the new year.
Geoff Stear studied Fine Art/Painting in the 1960s, at the Bradford College of Art, Birmingham School of Art and Design and St Martin's College of Art, London. He subsequently lived in London for thirteen years, working initially as an assistant at the Whitechapel Art Gallery before leaving to combine time spent on personal work and teaching, with freelance work in various London graphic design studios. He held teaching posts at the Birmingham School of Art and Design, Salisbury Art College, and Bournemouth Art College. He moved to Leamington Spa in 1977 when he was invited to set up and run as the manager/director Room Twenty Three, a Birmingham based advertising art/design studio. This he did for seven years, after which he went freelance. He has worked that way since, again including some time as a part time lecturer, at The University of the Centre of England, Birmingham, in the 1990’s. All through this Geoff continued to paint. He returned to being a 'full-time artist' on moving to the Western Isles and now has a studio and gallery ‘ArtWorks’ in the Scalpay School Craft Village, Scalpay, Harris.
Ian Stephen was born in Stornoway and still lives there. Many of his projects across the arts have been collaborations. He sent messages from a North Sea crossing to a computer at the 50th Venice Biennale and his artists’ films were included in Running Time, Dean Gallery, 2009. A selected poems maritime is due from Saraband in 2016.
Peter Urpeth is a writer, musician and creative business director based on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Peter is a founding Director of Emergents Creatives CIC Ltd, with more than 15 year's experience in creative industries development, and also manages Emergents' programme of business development support for writers and publishers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Peter is also a pianist and composer working in alternative and radical musics, and film music, and is a published novelist and arts journalist. His free time is spent reviewing CDs and books for online jazz magazines, and his own free improv podcast series is available on the iTunes store, and has reached as high as number 8 in the podcast charts. He is a board member/ Director of An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway, and Rural Nations CIC, a community arts production and promotion company, both based in the Outer Hebrides. Peter has performed and toured extensively in various free improvisation and alternative new music ensembles, and has recently composed and performed scores to classic black and white silent movies, being typecast in production of scores for grainy vampire movies.
Donald S Murray
A native Gaelic speaker, Donald S Murray is from the village of South Dell in Ness in the Isle of Lewis. A teacher who now lives in Shetland, he has published a number of books, winning the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, the Jessie Kesson Writing Fellowship and recently obtained a Creative Scotland travel bursary for researching a non-fiction book about the herring industry – Herring Tales; How The Silver Darlings Shaped Human Taste And History - which is just out from Bloomsbury. It received wide-ranging and excellent reviews in a large number of outlets, including the Spectator, Economist, Geographical, and BBC Countryfile. Psalm-Boat, a collaboration with Dumfries-based artist, Hugh Bryden has also been published by Roncadora Press.
Another recent book is SY StorY; Portrait of Stornoway which like The Guga Stone, one of the Guardian’s Nature Books of the Year, was illustrated by Doug Robertson. One of his earlier works was shortlisted for a Saltire Award while his poetry pamphlet West-coasters - largely about the islands off the Irish coast - received the same recognition in the Callum MacDonald Memorial Awards. His non-fiction book The Guga Hunters, re-issued by Birlinn in paperback, is about the seabird hunting tradition in Ness while Weaving Songs was inspired by the Harris Tweed industry. (His late father was a weaver.) The drama production, Sequamur was his first full-length play and went on tour through much of Scotland. Produced by Proiseact Nan Ealan, was also performed recently in Ireland, London and the In Flanders Museum in Ypres, Belgium.
In November 2015, he was one of a number of Scottish writers – including William MacIlvanney, James Robertson and Jenny Fagan – chosen to represent the country at the Pisa International Book Festival in Italy.