An Unexpected Afternoon

This afternoon’s ward ceilidh hadn’t started up again, so I found myself facing an afternoon of admin. My phone lit up with a little text from Cathy saying that she fancied enjoying the sunshine, so I thought about possibilities. Our Cuimhne Symposium is coming up and this morning’s Skype with Paul Thomas & Philly Hare from DEEP left us considering what to put on a flyer to welcome DEEP group members over to the island. Also our wonderful Lucy Robertson is here, working on Intelligent Textiles projects, involving wools and tweeds.

Cathy and I headed out westside with only a vague plan – we took some images to welcome people along at Callanish Stones and Carloway Broch and then found ourselves at Carloway Mill, where, after choosing some tweed in the shop, wonderfully, one of the guys had a wide enough gap between work tasks to give us a personalised tour around.

Cathy knew many of the processes from the days when she needed to fill the ‘bobbans’ after school but we were both amazed by the mixing process and the huge machines for washing and dyeing. Thanks so much to the Carloway Mill team for such an unexpected and welcome tour. The tweed Cathy chose will be in Lucy’s hands tomorrow. And we came away with a couple of handfuls of dyed wool, mixed wool and carded wool for the memory boxes. Big bonus!



Roses for Valentine’s and a 70th celebration


Today, I had a planned session freed up through awful weather and so I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the wonderful people at Solas Day Centre.

I gave a rose to everybody, staff and visitors alike.
Reactions were predictably playful:

“Ooh my husband will be jealous”
“They will gossip about you, you know, giving roses to women ;-)”
“I’m going to have fun with this, my husband forgot!”
“Well, you know, I have so many roses that I am running out of vases at home (giggle)”
“I’m going to propose with this rose….no, no I’ve changed my mind.”
“I hear he is a Free Church Minister, I do want to marry him now.”
“ohhhh thank you and Happy Valentine’s to you too”
“Is that for me?”
“Oh it’s pretty, a rose! (giggle)”
“Did you give one to everyone? You Did!?!”
“No…no flower (you can give it to your wife?) oh, okay.”
“I think I used to grow them, not red ones”

The amazing Donald George celebrates his 70th birthday today. He volunteers so much of his time and himself that it was a treat to celebrate his special birthday with him. Check out that amazing cake!

A lovely gathering of hard working and dedicated people past and present at Alzheimer Scotland today, with carers, families, friends, visitors and people enjoying the service.

Happy Birthday Donald George.
I’m sure you felt all that love in the room for you today.

Imaging on Textiles at Scalpay

Today, we all braved the snow to gather in Scalpay Community Hall and learn about imaging Cyanotypes on fabric and paper with Mhairi Law.

We also gave out some of Chris Hammacott’s brilliant new cushion designs and some Herring Girl and Mermaid worry dolls.

There were 6 of us in all, and we started out looking at Mhairi’s examples of Cyanotypes on paper and fabric. Mhairi explained the principles and potential of the technique and produced some kits for us all to have g practice with at home.

Mhairi demonstrated her UV light box and explained how sunlight can be used as well, and how the water washing off the chemicals causes oxidisation, which supports the colour development.

One lady went out to collect seaweed and some foraged finds from the shore and the rest of us printed with the plants and feathers that Mhairi had brought along.

The results were so encouraging – the fine detail on the feathers and seaweed were my favourites.

Sue had finished the cockerel cushion kit from a previous meet up and has kindly donated it to Harris House for the lounge. I will use it to demonstrate the finished cushion until the last couple of kits are gone and will then take it along to Harris House.

Next time, the session will be on Monday 26th Feb 10am-12 noon (1230) and we will bring soup and sandwiches to have some lunch together. Mhairi Law is leading the next session too and we will look at buying the chemicals needed and see what everyone has created in the meantime.  See you there!

Future sessions will be with Gill Thompson, print making with collograph and lino cut work, and Chris Hammacott will be leading on textile techniques when she is feeling better, later in March. All future ideas welcome – Film? Food? Dance? Basket making? Let us know!





Arora Jan/Feb newsletter

January News

January has seen plenty of dance / cultural movement sessions with Maggie & Louise.

We have been planning our Cuimhne Symposium for April and the call for academic posters has now gone out.

Our Western Isles voices were heard at the Scottish Parliament

Maggie held a crofting reminiscence session

Kate has been working intergenerationally with Cothrom Og nursery and Sacred Heart Care centre to create  a sensory book.

Margaret Joan and Chris Hammacott have been creating more kits for printmaking and textiles.

Duncan has been working hard on sessions of music and reminiscence on Barra.

We delivered some completed textile works completed from before Christmas.

The memory boxes are now available to borrow from the library service.

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The team is now trained in IT for the hospital ward smart screen.


The ward ceilidh was closed for January because of an influenza outbreak at the hospital.

February into March

We meet with the North Harris Trust relating to future work and a new memory box on 6th Feb.

The ward ceilidh will start up again in February, plus there will soon be a regular film screening through Arora Film Club.

A shiny new yellow memory box is winging its way to Barra to become a Transport themed box in connection with Duncan, the men’s group at Cobhair Bharraigh and Upstream.

Our new Me Time textiles group in Scalpay starts on Mon 12th Feb 9.30-12.30 and will continue fortnightly to the end of March. They are all free.

Mon 12th Feb 9.30-1230 – Cyanotypes and textiles with Mhairi Law & Paula
Mon 26th Feb 9.30-12.30 Photography and Textiles with Mhairi Law & Paula
Mon 12th March 9.30-12.30 Printmaking on fabric with Gill Thompson & Maggie Smith
Mon 26th March 9.30-12.30 Textiles with Chris Hammacott & Paula

A short film will be made to document our DEEP funded dance project during March in to April. More dance sessions will continue during March. Dates to be announced shortly.

21st Feb, Dawn Susan will be offering weaving with natural materials in the gallery amidst Lois Walpole’s inspirational exhibition.

Our April Cuimhne Symposium tickets will go on sale during Feb and the programme will also be available.

Maggie Smith starts our new Gaelic Choir on Thurs 8th Feb at 2pm at Dun Eisdean.

Guitar lessons continue throughout Feb on Weds at Lewis Retirement Centre 12-2pm at Bayhead 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th Feb.

and afterwards is the Tea & IT sessions from 2.30pm, so please go along or stay after the guitar lessons, if you have any queries with your laptops, smart phones etc.




The Road to Tarbert

Yesterday’s trip took in a snow-capped Clisham, traffic chaos, Hebridean style and a red roofed post office (at Balallan).

At the end of the road was a gorgeous opportunity to remind people of the silk painting we did together with Chris Hammacott in December, with the completed cushions, beautifully stitched. Nobody planned to keep the cushions themselves, everyone is going to re gift them to family.

And then we went to Tarbert Library, where the final showcase of the memory boxes took place, and they are now available to book through the library service for free.


Tech training on the ward

Monday saw the official training by NHS Western Isles IT department for the smart screen on Erisort Ward. Now, our team and ward staff are able to access the resource for supporting people at the Tuesday Ceilidh and on the ward.

There are also two ipads, which will be loaded with the same resources and they will be heading to the other island hospitals at Barra and Benbecula.