Currently exhibiting in our Main Gallery is:

22 May – 4 July

New exhibition South West by South, An t-Eilean Fada, The Long Island: A Poetic Cartography by artist Gill Russell, explores the dynamic relationship between the sea and land, and reveals the nautical heritage of the Outer Hebrides.

Gill said: “The dense interplay of sea, land, and light in the northwest of Scotland, and in particular the Western Isles has captivated me since childhood. I often imagined living there.

“Along the extent of the liminal shore the interplay of tidal currents and weather is complex and, from a human perspective, fickle, authoring, dramatic, and sometimes destructive, events.

“Although I felt a deep attachment to the place and however much it inspired my practice, I came to realise that I would always be a tourist, a spectator, on the outside of an entrenched culture looking in. It was important to make connections.”

In making connections, Gill visited the islands several times over a two-year period, as well as researching oral history interviews from Tobar an Dualais/School of Scottish Studies, which form a central part of the upcoming An Lanntair exhibition.

A recorded account of the Van Stabel, a ship-wrecked off the coast of Heisker (Monach Isles), brought her to meet the Laing family of North Uist; her explorations of the Sound of Harris lead her to interview Berneray native Donald MacLean; and playing low whistle at a local pub session introduced her to box player Dougie MacDonald from North Uist who helped her understanding of Gaelic stories.

South West by South expresses Gill’s work through a ‘poetic cartography’, presenting an installation of large-scale prints, vinyl wall drawings, audio recordings, and maps.

Her poetic cartography maps the Sound of Harris, its notoriously treacherous skerries and shoals, and the stories and folklore inspired by them. Tidal Streams communicates the potent force of the turbulent Pentland Firth; while the vinyl drawings of Tributrees explore the burns and rivers, the arterial life forces, which run through the spartan Lewis landscape.

The maps and poems of Lost Ships dwell on the many vessels wreaked around the Long Island, particularly near Heisker, and the loss of cargo and human life. And using oral recordings and dense prints, Sea Lore suggest the enthralling and unpredictable surge of the sea which haunts such tales.

Roddy Murray, An Lanntair Head of Visual Artssaid: “The sea defines these islands and the lore of the sea speaks eloquently of our relationship with it. This exhibition is as much about that history as it is about geography, topography, tidal patterns and place names. Gill expertly navigates us through the past, through reefs, skerries, channels, currents and streams to reveal our nautical heritage.”

South West by South, An t-Eilean Fada, The Long Island: A Poetic Cartography is exhibited at An Lanntair May 22 to July 4.  The exhibition will also show in Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist, in September and October 2021.

You can read more about South West by South here in Gill’s Artist Blog.


In our Cafè Bar Gallery we are showcasing:

20 May – 26 June 

Reliquary, a new art project challenging mental health stigma, opens in An Lanntair’s Café Bar Gallery on Thursday 20th May as part of the nationwide Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

The unique Reliquary exhibition is the end result of a collaboration between artists Martyn McKenzie and Kate McAllan, with staff and participants from Penumbra, Western Isles Foyer, and Catch 23 in Stornoway.

Commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and See Me, Scotland’s campaign against mental health stigma and discrimination, the Reliquary project saw participants work with Martyn and Kate to design hand-made wooden boxes who appearance and content reflects the lives of the people creating them.

Describing their Reliquary project, Kate and Martyn said: “We are interested in the psychological possibilities of a box, its interaction with the idea of public and private, and its ability to protect its contents. We are also interested in its simplicity and beauty as an object.  In its essence it asks to be opened and shared. We will host a series of workshops where each participant will create their own hand-crafted ‘Reliquary’ box and fill it with artwork, writing and objects. This will culminate in an exhibition of all the participants’ work alongside further collaborative elements including a film and illustrated map.”

Penumbra Western Isles Support Manager, Christine Darby-Munro, said:  “It’s important to challenge the all too often negative stereotypes associated with mental health, and encourage an environment where people feel able to talk openly about their mental and emotional wellbeing. This project is a really creative way of getting people to think about the idea that we all have mental health.”