Art on Skye

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The Skye Arts Trail

Other than sheep, the Isle of Skye seems to have an abundance of talented artists, photographers, sculptures, potters and weavers.

The Skye and Lochalsh Arts and Crafts Association produce a wonderful book detailing galleries and studios throughout the Island, their location and the types of work on display.

We have used this guide over the past couple of years to visit many of these and of the 42 artists and galleries features in the guide we have visited or seen the work of over 30 and detail our highlights below:

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Skyescape Gallery

Skyescape Gallery is situated on the Harlosh Peninsular and features work predominantly by Russell Sherwood – owner and founder of the gallery – but also by a few other carefully selected photographers. We fell in love with Russell’s work the first time that we saw it being displayed in Dunvegan and had to make the trip to his gallery to see the quality of his other work which we found to be wonderful too. .

Russell is very welcoming and more than willing to impart advice and information on the equipment he uses and his workflow. He also offers tuition for a fee and although we have not used his services can only imagine that this is great value for money and worthwhile to employ his services.

Russell is a member of F4 – four likeminded photographers whose work is dominated by the landscape of Skye.

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Tim Wilcock Photography

Tim and his wife run the Grasmhor Bed and Breakfast near Dunvegan and in addition Tim is also a talented landscape photographer. Tim’s work can be seen at the bed and breakfast where he has a small gallery and like Russell Sherwood, is more than happy to discuss how and where he captures his images.

Tuition is also available which I can only imagine is superb and good humoured.

Tim is also a member of the F4 collective.

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Dandelion Designs and Images Gallery

This gallery is situated in the beautiful, small village of Stein on the Waternish peninsular next door to the Stein Inn – Skye’s oldest Inn.

It features the work of several artists – Liz, Pat and Cathy Myhill predominate but there is also work on display (and to buy) by John Viles and Marion McPhee to name but two. We were particularly struck by the work of Liz Myhill who produces some beautiful and arresting art.

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Ellishadder Art Café

One of our absolute favourites not just for the amazing food and drinks and service but also but the wonderful art work created by Stuart and Maggie Quigley the owners and operaters of the Café.

Stuart produces some stunning paintinsg and pencil drawings of Skye and Maggie weaves amazing rugs which are works of art in themselves.

Again, as we have found with most artists on the Island they are more than happy to discuss how they create their work and it really hits home how much work actually goes into their creations.

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Skyeline Ceramics

Skyeline Ceramics is situated in a very small workshop in Broadford. The workshop is renowed for the exquisitely crafted sculptures of sheep. The attention to detail is amazing and each of the small creations is unique giving them their own personality.

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John Bathgate – Dun Studio

John Bathgate’s studio is just outside of the town of Dunvegan and is a treasure trove of beautifully painted scenes of Skye. John is great company and, like most artists on Skye is happy to share his inspirations.

John uses various media including acrylics, oil, mixed media and collage to capture the atmosphere and grandeur of Skye’s landscape. His work is available in original form and limited edition prints.

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Alan Campbell

Alan is an incredibly gifted photographer based in Broadford. He exclusively uses medium format film to capture both dramatic and atmospheric images.

When you look has his work you appreciate the increased dynamic range and wonderful colour that it seems only film can capture.

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Nigel Grounds Gallery

Using bold, dramatic colours Nigel’s paintings are stunning in the way they capture Skye’s landscape. His gallery is probably the first you will encounter after leaving the Mallaig to Armadale ferry – it is literally 100 metres on the right hand side as you head towards the main road.

Nigel regularly exhibits his work in galleries across Scotland.

These are just a handful of the artists and photographers we have visited and our favourites so far. There are many to discover and we look forward to doing this on our future visits to Skye.

Links:

http://skyescapegallery.zenfolio.com/
http://www.timwilcock.com/
http://www.dandelion-designs.co.uk/
http://www.ellishadderartcafe.co.uk/
http://www.skyelineceramics.com/
http://www.dunstudio.com/
http://alan-campbell.com/
http://www.nigelgrounds.co.uk/

Isle of Skye

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The Road to the Cuillins

I recently returned from a two week break on Skye with the family and have been asked on more than one occasion: “two weeks on Skye? What did you find to do in all that time?”.

It was this implied preconception and misconception that a small Island of the North West coast of Scotland couldn’t provide enough to occupy a family of five for two weeks that prompted me to write this Blog post.

The first thing to say is really stating the obvious I suppose. If you enjoy wide open soft sandy beaches, siting by a pool, consistent 12 hours of sunshine etc then this is not the place for you and I suspect Skye would not even appear on your radar as a potential destination.

If, like me, you enjoy stunning scenery, lochs, mountains, climbing, walking, wildlife, sea life, great food and drink, rock pools, relaxing by a log fire, weather that can have you in a t-shirt in the morning and wrapped up in a rain coat and woolly hat by lunchtime and to top it all wonderfully warm and welcoming people then Skye is certainly for you.

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The Cottage at Dunpark

This year was our second visit. We fell in love with the cottage we stayed in last Easter – Dunpark –  and were lucky enough to be able to book it again for this year. The cottage is comfortable with all the amenities you could want apart from a dishwasher  – we brought one with us in the shape of our 13 year old daughter.

One of the main appeals of the cottage is it’s location. It is situated on the Sleat peninsula around a 10 minute drive from Armadale ferry port and overlooks the Sound with the mountains of mainland Scotland (including Knoydart) across the water providing a constant picturesque backdrop. There is a great garden for the children to play in and access to the rocky coastline that borders the land.

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Sunrise at Dunpark

Ishbel and Angus MacDonald own and manage the cottage and a friendly and helpful. All in all you have a great almost get a way from it all holiday home at an extremely reasonable price. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

From the cottage exploring the stunning Sleat peninsular is straightforward with a main road that runs the length of the peninsular. There is everything here from great restaurants, wildlife in the shape of otters and seals to spot, deer are quite common and there are great beaches where rockpools abound.

You could probably spend a week or so discovering all the nooks and crannies of Sleat but there are other amazing things to do and see within an hour or so in the car.

On top of the incredible scenery to discover there is also the art trails to explore. Skye is home to some supremely talented artists and photographers. We have visited many of them and they have all been very welcoming and open about their work and influences.

Be sure to visit photographers Russell Sherwood, Tim Wilcock and Alan Campbell for some inspiration. Artists such as John Bathgate and Diane Mackie have some beautiful work to see and purchase in their galleries.

Here are just a few of my other recommendations:

Ellishadder Art Cafe

Eliishadder

We all fell in love with this little cafe in the North East of the Island. It is owned and run by the amazingly friendly and talented Stuart and Maggie Quigley. Stuart is a very talented artist and Maggie cooks delicious vegetarian food – if you are a died in the wool meat eater don’t let this put you off. One visit to the cafe almost turned me vegetarian the food is that good. Save room for some fantastic desserts too! Maggie is also a weaver and both Stuart and Maggie’s work is for sale at the cafe.

Dunvegan Bakery

The oldest bakery on the Island. It is also a cafe too serving simple but delicious meals. Their scones are to die for and the best that we have ever tasted – we always ensure that we leave with a couple of bags full. The owners are also really friendly and make you feel welcome.

The Quiraing

Quiraing

The Quiraing is a geological phenomenon with towering spires of rock thrusting from the earth in a myriad of different shapes and sizes. It really has to be seen to be believed. The views from all areas is sublime and worth the effort to get here.

Dunvegan Castle

Set in beautiful gardens this is similar to Eilean Donan Castle (see below) and again well kept with excellent facilities. The history of the castle is fascinating and there is plenty to keep the children occupied.

Faerie Glen

Close to Uig this is not the most straightforward place to find. Ask a local and they will give you directions. It is all worth the effort though when you get there. The landscape is otherworldly and you have the feeling that you have stepped onto another planet. Unusual rock formations abound with plenty to explore. It is easy to imagine a settlement of fairies living there.

Eilean Donan Castle

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Okay, this is not on the Island but a short 20 minute drive from the Kyle of Lochalsh. Of all the castles we have visited this one is easily the best. Why? For a start it has been beautifully restored with an eye for detail unusual, in my experience. The guides are extremely knowledgable and helpful and went out of their way to ensure our visit was interesting and interactive. The views from the castle are also spectacular. It is no wonder that the location has been used in so many blockbusters – Highlander being the obvious one.

Neist Point Lighthouse

Not for the faint hearted or the unfit. The steps down to the lighthouse seem easy but coming back is a real challenge. It is more than worth it though with some stunning views of the coastline and of course the lighthouse itself. A short walk from the small carpark affords a magnificent view of Neist Point too.

There are many, many other places I can recommend  including the MacDonald visitor centre near Armadale, Kilt Rock, Coral Beach near Dunvegan and Elgol to name but a few but visiting but one of the pleasures of Skye is getting out and exploring the many nooks and crannies of an Island steeped in history.

Whenever we have been to Skye we never want to go home and try and think of ways of us setting up home there at some point. It is the kind of place that captures your heart and inspires yours soul. We could not imagine not making an annual pilgrimage to Skye to visit old favourites and discover new.

Links

http://www.skye.co.uk

http://www.dunpark-skye.co.uk

http://www.ellishadderartcafe.co.uk

http://www.eileandonancastle.com

http://www.dunveganbakery.com

http://www.glendaleskye.com/neistpoint.php

http://skyescapegallery.zenfolio.com

http://www.timwilcock.com

http://www.art-skye.co.uk

Russell Sherwood Photography – Capturing Skye in All It’s Glory

Other than lochs, mountains and waterfalls one other thing that Skye is certainly not short of is artists and photographers.

Being an enthusiastic amateur photographer myself I was extremely keen to see how a working photographer captured such a dramatic landscape with it’s rapidly changing light and weather.

Whilst out and about (and if the opportunity presented itself) I would pop into one of the galleries to see the photographer’s work. To my eyes the best of these has to be Russell Sherwood’s near Dunvegan in the north of the island.

My first instinct when viewing his work is that he was using Medium Format cameras. Russell is happy to discuss the equipment he uses and by any professional standards it is primarily straightforward stuff. His website has all the details of his camera gear and so I won’t go steal his thunder here.

What really struck me is that when it comes down to it, it is the photographer and their ability to “see” the image and opportunity.  Cameras don’t take bad photographs. People do.

Russell has built up a portfolio of incredible images which totally capture spirit of the landscape of Skye and if you are ever in the area I doubt you would be disappointed by a trip there. His website is also well worth investigating: http://skyescapegallery.zenfolio.com/

Highly recommended.

Duncan Chisholm – Redpoint Album

I was holidaying on the Isle of Skye over Easter and was totally captured by this incredible island.

Whilst browsing through the CD’s in a traditional music shop in Portree the owner started playing some beautiful, haunting fiddle music over the shop speakers.

After two or three tracks (and more than one complaint from my son that he was getting bored) I asked the owner which album it was that he was playing. It turns out that it was a solo album called Redpoint by Duncan Chisholm. Duncan is probably most famous for being a founder member of the band Wolfstone. His solo productions are much more laid back and atmospheric comparative to the band work.

Redpoint was released back in 1997 and features Duncan’s stunning emotive playing backed by Ivan Drever and Phil Cunningham amongst others.

I listened to the album in the car and in the cottage many times whilst away and it seems to me to be the perfect soundtrack to such a awe inspiring island.

Since getting home I have picked up a couple of Duncan’s other solo works and these are equally as good. If you enjoy altmospheric fiddle music that touches the soul then these albums are most definitely for you.

Sit back late at night with a glass of whisky and the light’s turned down and you will be transported back to the land of magical glens, mountains and lochs.

For more information please go to duncanchisolm.co.uk