A sense of place - Western Isles

this image
shows three phases of the island’s
history – the narrow strips of
crofting land, the airfield
constructed during the Second
World War, and the modern
town of Balivanich.
One of the layered artworks created at the workshop.
One of the layered artworks created at the workshop.
One of the layered artworks created at the workshop.
A collage, created by workshop participants, showing the area around Nunton Steadings.
A keen photographer recording the island.
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A SENSE OF PLACE

In October 2007 a local artist, Jon Macleod, worked with a group of young people from the Isle of Benbecula in the Western Isles to explore the heritage of the island and how it compares with their lives today. The venue was a renovated nineteenth century steading which provided an appropriate context for the theme of the workshop. Close to the steading are the remains of a medieval chapel, the largely nineteenth century Nunton House, to which the steading belonged, and to the rear is the inspirational setting of Culla Bay.

Nunton Steadings and Culla Bay

 

 

 

 

Nunton Steadings and Culla Bay in 2007. Photographed by two of the workshop participants.

Nunton Steadings and Culla Bay in 2007. Photographed by two of the workshop participants.

FINDING OUT ABOUT THE PAST

 The historic photographs gave a fascinating insight
									into island life a century ago. This photograph of
									a net made from grass roots is from Erskine
									Beveridge’s book ‘North Uist’, 1911.
									DP031460
From the collections of RCAHMS, we had brought along a whole range of drawings, photographs and books about the Uists. This included a book from 1911 by the historian and archaeologist, Erskine Beveridge, containing contemporary photographs of the islands; a series of RCAHMS survey drawings of late nineteenth and early twentieth century farm buildings; and excavation drawings of an Iron Age aisled round house. Digital copies were made of the drawings and photographs and the workshop participants used these to help create their art works.

^ The historic photographs gave a fascinating insight into island life a century ago. This photograph of a net made from grass roots is from Erskine Beveridge’s book ‘North Uist’, 1911. DP031460

 

A measured survey drawing of a farmstead at Gramsdale,
Benbecula drawn by RCAHMS
surveyors in 1998.
DP031862

 

 

A measured survey drawing of > a farmstead at Gramsdale, Benbecula drawn by RCAHMS surveyors in 1998. DP031862

FINDING OUT ABOUT THE PAST

One of the participants
tells us about her favourite
place - Hougharry Beach.
This photograph of
blackhouses by the beach
was taken in c.1897.
SC746319 ^ One of the participants tells us about her favourite place - Hougharry Beach.

 

This photograph of > blackhouses by the beach was taken in c.1897. SC746319

CAPTURING TODAY

A keen photographer recording the island today.

The participants were given cameras and sketchbooks to record aspects of the island that interested them. They considered what features represented life on the island today and how this might have differed from life a century ago. They photographed historic buildings, architectural details and landscapes, as well as modern developments and other features including wind turbines, Nissan huts and a water tower. These photographs would later become part of the finished art works.

Recording what they see, both old and new.

Recording what they see, both old and new.Recording what they see, both old and new.

^ Recording what they see, >
both old and new.

CAPTURING TODAY

CAPTURING TODAY

 

GETTING CREATIVE


Artworks created by two of the
participants during the workshop.

To capture the essence of the island, the participants went to the beach and looked around the steading for objects they could gather and use as part of their art works. Driftwood and old slates made an ideal support for their creations.

 

 

 

Artworks created by two of the > participants during the workshop.

Artworks created by participants

GETTING CREATIVE

With the help of Jon, the participants used imaging software on the computer to combine and layer a number of images, including their own photographs, drawings and writings, and copies of the RCAHMS drawings and photographs. The images were then printed onto special Lazertran paper. Using water, the top layer containing the image lifts off and can be carefully transferred onto a support, such as the slates and driftwood. The support had already been painted white to allow the image to be seen. The Lazertran is then fixed using turpentine.

The layering of historic images from RCAHMS, with modern images taken by the participants, captures a layering of time and history, as well as the variety of sites of historical interest.

Each participant also produced a self portrait that included an image of themselves, an image they had taken, and a copy of an image from the RCAHMS collections.

“By tying in artefacts and archive images to a place they knew well, the young people seemed to broaden their understanding of their known world. They learned to see things insightfully and critically, to make aesthetic judgments and to develop manual creative skills.”
Jon MacLeod, Artist and Workshop Leader

This artwork combines
a self-portrait, an image
taken of iron work from the
churchyard and a plan drawn
during the excavation of the
Iron Age aisled round house.

 

This artwork combines >
a self-portrait, an image
taken of iron work from the
churchyard and a plan drawn
during the excavation of the

Iron Age aisled round house.