Lockdown was – as has been said so many times since the start of the pandemic – an unprecedented time. We had to get used to new terms, like furlough, the R rate, PCRs and LFTs. But isolation was not a new word to many of us over 60s in the Western Isles, a fact well recognised by An Lanntair. In conjunction with Inspiring Scotland Creative Communities they launched Creative Connections, to inspire and support older people in the Islands.
Gisela, Tosh and I joined a variety of classes held through Zoom. All the materials were posted out to us before the start of each course from An Lanntair, so we had no excuses that it was too expensive to buy or difficult to source.
I don’t think I had held a paintbrush in my hand since Primary School days. Through my first course I rediscovered the joy of simply making pencil marks on paper, printing using materials found around the home, and using homemade inks. Printmaking introduced me to more vibrant colours and mediums. But it was ‘The Beach Today’ that sharpened my eye to the huge variety of shapes and colours to be found on the beach.
Beachcombing became great fun, as was arranging and linking these objects to the landscapes. This ability to view things in a different way has stayed with me, and made a huge difference. Our enthusiasm spread to families and friends who became fascinated by observing the beach in a different light.
The friendship of the other participants was something to look forward to each week. We despaired over the vagaries of Hebridean sunshine as we tried to develop our cyanotype prints, and compared notes on how we were coping with Covid restrictions. For a few hours a week we could immerse ourselves in our projects and feel connected to each other through them.
Whilst these courses could never turn me into an artist, I have thoroughly enjoyed them, and am so grateful to An Lanntair for having the vision to make a Creative Connection possible.
On May 19 this year, an exhibition of lockdown events which had taken place throughout Scotland as part of the Inspiring Scotland scheme was held in Glasgow, and I travelled there with Mark Jones [Creative Connections Project Coordinator] and Mairi McCuish.
It was an interesting and varied day with talks, music, films, poetry and craft events to view. And it was a real thrill to see photos of our very own artwork displayed!
– Fiona Ingle-Finch
Mairi, Mark, and Fiona view their work from An Lanntair’s Creative Connections workshops on display as part of the Inspiring Scotland exhibition in Glasgow.
Fiona took part in An Lanntair’s Creative Connections online workshops for Over 60s, supported by Inspiring Scotland’s Creative Communities programme. Keep eyes open for more Creative Connection workshops and opportunities running later in 2022!