THIS SMOOTH WEIGHT HOLDS AND GLUTS: Fionn Duffy
Exhibition run: 19 August – 23 Sept 2023
Based on the outputs of an RSA Residency in 2022, this installation of ceramics, originated in Fionn’s investigations into Barvas Ware, a pottery made in Lewis at the turn of the 20th Century and brings together sculpture, video and text. Between residencies with An Lanntair and Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Fionn has drawn from research into early uses of clay and milk from across Scotland, inspired by the female potters of Barvas.
Playing with modes of display associated with archives and the domestic, Fionn dissects cultural and social signifiers associated with the decorative arts, considering the cycles of mimicry and historic techniques used by the makers of Barvas Ware as a canny extrapolation of a romanticised past which resists categorisation.
Sheep Portraits, by Tom Hickman
Exhibition run: 6 Sept – October 2023
Cafè Bar Gallery
It must have been four years ago now that Murray Croy asked me if I could do him a sketch of a black face ram in exchange for bringing in my peats. Working on the theory that exchange is no robbery I immediately gave the idea my full attention. Having been brought up with hill sheep farming on the Mull of Kintyre I was well aware that sheep have their individual characters, but the blackface markings only serve to enhance this. My favourite time of the year was clipping, when neighbours would come to help shear sheep brought down from the hill and over from the island. I would be on hand with the tar pot in case of any cuts and helping to roll the fleeces. Almost as big as me I would look at them face to face.
Later when we moved south my father favoured the Scottish half breed crossed with a South Downs. Due to my father’s ill health by the age of 14 I was in charge of the herd at lambing time. On a dark February evening I would walk out with a torch to give the ewes a last check and see their familiar faces staring back. When living in Brittany, I kept tiny Isle de Ouessant sheep that although mainly black come in all shades but seldom more than 50cm high at the shoulder. It was a far cry from my childhood days, but I often found myself talking to them, particularly the ram. His skull now resides in my studio staring down on me as I paint. On moving to Lewis it didn’t take long before sheep started to figure in my artwork, and combining this with Harris Tweed yarns, a variety of offcuts and raw wool resulted in a jovial batch of folk art sheep that were enthusiastically snapped up by Americans.
In mounting this small exhibition I wanted to demonstrate not only the accessibility of art but also that original art does not have to be expensive so the prices have been kept deliberately low. Many would not see being an artist as a proper job. My heroes are those who sit at the supermarket checkouts, somebody has to do it, but thankfully not me. I count myself lucky to be doing something I love in a place that I love. I was shocked recently to discover several local people had never even been in An Lanntair and decided to offer one of these sketches free to the person offering the best answer to a possibly deceptively simple question.
IN WHAT WAY DOES HAVING AN ART CENTRE ADD TO MY ISLAND LIFE?
This is open to anyone currently living on the islands. There are no age restrictions, simply visit the An Lanntair café area and fill in the form. The triple sheep portrait will be awarded to the best answer. In the case of identical answers the youngest will take precedence.
Grianan Art Group Exhibition
Exhibition run: Sept – October 2023
An Lanntair Arts Centre and the Grianan Centre ( a day centre for adults with disabilities ) have worked in partnership for many years. We have worked together on a huge number of arts projects all with inclusiveness, participant choice and creative exploration at their heart. In the early days of working with the Grianan Centre An Lanntair had an artist embedded there who worked with the staff and service users on a range projects including animation, graphic stories, painting, sculpture, photography and more. An Lanntair hosted two vibrant and popular exhibitions in its main gallery space of work produced by participants over this time.
Service users from Grianan have continued to work closely with An Lanntair coming to the art room once a week to create artwork. Sometimes the work produced is one off pieces for the individual but other times the group works on creating ambitious larger scale projects together. They have worked collectively to help create sets and props for An Lanntair’s preschool events in the auditorium where they contributed to transforming the space into an exciting new world for the children be it outer space or deep under the sea. They have created life sized reindeer for Christmas displays and huge and complex collage pieces looking at the myths and legends of the Hebrides.
This exhibition is a celebration of the work that the talented staff and service users of the Grianan Centre have created over the years and represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of artwork produced by the dedicated staff and participants of the centre.