Museum Nan Eilean (Sgoil Lionacleit) Store


The Museum Nan Eilean (Sgoil Lionacleit) has a store room for fragile artefacts and those not currently in a collection.

Dawn and Stephanie wanted to go to examine basketry and document it for the Woven Communities website, so that interested parties can seek out basketry that they are particularly wanting to see, then make an appointment with Museum Nan Eilean staff.

While there, we coined the phrase “Basket Autopsy” because of the skilled analysis of the pieces. The wearing, the sweat from horses, determining which grass it was made from, it’s approximate ages, the size and style and who might have made it, who donated it (and might have more information).

It was important to see the pieces to decide how and if it would be possible to recreate one or more of the pieces during our collaboration project.

Some of the pieces are enhanced by images of local makers creating similar pieces on hand made looms on Uist.

Many thanks to the Museum Nan Eilean staff team.

Taigh Chearsabhagh talk last night 

22 people came to our talk last night and offered their own stories as well as their skilful twining participation. Neil, a local marram grass thatcher came along, offering his knowledge too and participants came from Australia and Italy, England and Scotland.  

I introduced the project with a short presentation and then handed over to Jon, who explained the origins of the project and showed images of some of the work, which inspired several participants towards creating their own art works with theirs and their family’s experiences.

Anthropologist Dr Stephanie Bunn from St Andrew’s University  brought together our work with hers, drawing on parallels between  our work  She introduced the Woven Communities work and spoke about how the brain is supported by hand movement and how patterns and manual work help too. Stephanie spoke about the work we had done during the week with older people with dementia on weaving and in Gaelic. She also spoke of the great value of their memories and skills. 

Dawn Susan brought many examples of baskets and gave a very thought provoking talk on how baskets are made and used and how women in particular worry about skills and success when coming to a class, when a class is simply a place to explore working with a new material and a place to escape everyday pressures. She spoke about the mysteries of the ciosan basket and the project of harvesting marram and remaking it in the autumn.

Dawn offered incredible detail about the people who made the baskets, how they are maintained, different makers and patterns, how they can be tucked away in stores and the immense feeling of privilege to be connecting people to the baskets. 

Personal stories included African diamonds, similarities of baskets across the world and there were many questions such as ‘when are you coming to do a class?’ and ‘this is just what we need – what’s next?’

A very informative and enjoyable evening. Many thanks to Andy Mackinnon of Taigh Chearsabhagh.