Town Hall Exhibitions

PARRAS – Paradise by Sue Blair: 1994


Iain Brady: Old Myths New Models 1989, Listening to Stones 1994
Two touring exhibitions of the exuberant constructions of this local artist.


Mark Johnston: 1996
“Imagine great monotonous stretches of uncharted, unnamed territory, imagine vast eroded plateaus and post glacial beaches. The time is the boreal period, the beginnings of the archaic times called Atlantic…. The earthscape is mineral, dominated by great stone blocks fallen from obscure disasters, and by scatterings of fragmented rock. In such a context, geometry (a point, a line a circle) can be a kind of salvation, especially if you can feel that you are establishing a correspondence with what you haven’t yet called a cosmos.”  Kenneth White 1995 (from “Calanais”)

Petrified Garden is an exhibition of new work by photo artist Mark Johnston. It takes as its theme the numerous prehistoric stone circles, avenues, tombs and alignments which are found in Scotland and throughout Northern Europe. These first attempts to establish reference points on the earth are the ossified evidence of what was once an established culture and the earliest known forms of religious art in the landscape.

The show consists of montages, composed of photographs of the horizon taken from a height of 6.5 meters. These become templates for our perception because they depict the horizon as a circle, and we are always at the centre. And while visually aware of our surroundings we are not always concious of ourselves as being there; so it is a circle with a hole in the middle. That is the human condition.

The line of inquiry concentrates on the fact that that most of these monuments show a design theme and a variation – a circle with projections : this could be called a template. Instead of looking for a functional cause for these monuments it is possible that they are pictures of something. Some possible inspirations are: Total and annular eclipses of the sun. The diamond ring effect is seen clearly in the Aberdeenshire stone circles. The stone rows in the Calanais site may be the streamers of ionised particles seen only during totality. Aurora Borealis, the Northern lights when seen directly overhead look like radiating lines of coloured lights, shooting out from a blank centre. Comets and meteor storms. Comets which cross earths orbit may have impressed or terrorized. Monuments such as Callanish I, Stonehenge, Avebury and Wormy Hillock show remarkable similarities to comets when viewed from above. Meteorite storms which are debris left behind by comets also appear to radiate from a central point in the sky.

In all these possiblities the underlying force is the solar wind, a stream of ionised particles heading away from the sun. Our perceptions and cosmology are intimately bound together, and discovering the meaning of lost cultures may only require the simple question: How did they look at their surroundings.


Sara Radstone: 1979 to 1997


George Wylie: 1988
Temporary Spires sited in 7 locations throughout the Isle of Lewis.  “For this planet; for this place; Earth, Air, Stone, Equilibrium”.  Art in the environment.


Tom Mackendrick: 1991
Stunning installation documenting the development of the submarine. Toured by the Collins Gallery Glasgow.


The British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection: 1992. Over 100 paintings from the great tradition of steam ship portraiture.


As well as Gaelic Christmas Cards, Gaelic T-Shirts, Gaelic Greeting cards, Gaelic Birthday cards, Gaelic posters


Reviewing the Duke of Sutherland Monument: 1998
A touring exhibition featuring 30 artists amendments, interferences and interventions to the statue of the First Duke of Sutherland, “The Architect of the Highland Clearances”.



1987. The performance art event of the year. Visited by 3,000 in one day.


The Letterbox Project: 1991. Steve Dilworth, Iain Brady, Louise Scullion, Reinhard Behrens, George Wyllie. Customised road-end mail-boxes for the Isles of Lewis & Harris.


A Voyage to the South: 1993




Steve Dilworth: Acts of Faith 1992; St Kilda Mailboat 1991. Spiritual objects created out of the animal and physical detritus of beach, moor and mountain. Toured to CCA (Glasgow), Dundee Art Gallery, Aberdeen Art Gallery (Catalogue available; see publications)


Ewen Bain: 1991. 30 years of Scotland’s most well-known and loved cartoon character and his surreal adventures on Drambeg, fairest island in the Utter Hebrides.


From the Land – Clearance, Conflict & Crofting: 1986. Major touring exhibition to celebrate the Centenary of the Crofting Act. Featured painters, photographers and archive material documenting the historic struggle for land rights. Toured Canada coast-to-coast in 1989/90.


Donald Urquhart: 1997. From “The Lost Trees of Drumbuich” and “Ptarmigan”.


Audio-visual presentation on distinct aspects on Island history. Told through the stories of the Iolaire which sank on 1st January 1919 with the loss of 205 lives; the emigrant ship the Metagama from1923 and the Politician which ran aground with a cargo of whisky during the 2nd World War and on which the film Whisky Galore is based.