The Isle of Lewis – Echoes of the Past

Amid the noise of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the buildings and structures that stand around us. The stories of the people who commissioned, designed and built them are embedded within their walls. Not just physical shelters, they carry stories of the Island’s histories and culture.

My work aims to strip back unnecessary detail to capture their essence and give it a modern twist. My focus is the structure, not the environment it exists within, I want the viewer to experience it and consider its origins separate from its surroundings.

Echoes of Influence

My inspiration is rooted in curiosity. Why is it there? What is it for? Who made this happen? The buildings that inspire me reflect the cultures visiting the safe harbour of Stornoway’s town over several centuries. People have arrived and left their mark on this remote Island. Each building tells a part of this history and leaves tell-tale clues all around us.

Enhancing Our Lives Today

These buildings are part of our daily lives and shape our collective identity and sense of belonging. Whether it’s the role of a church in connecting its congregation as a community, or the bold statements of wealth that led to establishing a magnificent castle country home and estate overlooking a beautiful harbour. These architectural landmarks serve as visual anchors that ground us in our shared cultural heritage, fostering a sense of connection and community.

For generations, people have lived and thrived in the harsh conditions of the Hebrides. The structures left to us by our ancestors demonstrate their resilience and how they worked with the environment around them to make dwellings and places of cultural importance that stand to this day.

Translating Tradition into Art

Working with graphic reduction I am seeking to distil the essence of a structures into visual compositions that resonate with modern contemporary audiences. My practice includes mixed media, painting, collage and digital. The Isle of Lewis series came about through drawing on my iPad as a way to test colour combinations and compositions. Over time these experiments developed into the standalone works you see here.

My process begins with exploring a structure from several angles at different times of day to find the right combination of light and shadow. Then onto photo editing software to correct perspective shifts created by the camera lens before selecting the 4 to 5 main colours from samples of the photo. Then the painstaking task of drawing the building begins. Each image takes around 20 to 30 hours to complete building the layers and deciding which details to keep and what to strip away.

Through my work I hope to inspire you to contemplate and discover the buildings around you and reflect on why they are important to you and your personal story. Whether it is a reminder of a visit to the Island where you experienced the Island hospitality for the first and only time, or a building that takes you back to regular visits or your childhood.

As an artist I am privileged to explore and celebrate the legacy of the Island’s built environment, from the 5000 year old Calanais Stones to our modern day Art Centre An Lanntair bringing us up to date in the 21st Century. I invite you to connect with our shared human heritage.