Jack & John – new podcast playlist for #Cuimhne event

Our playlists on Soundcloud

New for #Cuimhne our Jack & John Playlist goes live.

Listen to the conversation between John Maher (Buzzcocks Drummer, Photographer and Engineer) and Jack Manchester, split into short bursts of particular stories for ease of listening.

We sadly lost Jack a short while ago but his wonderful family (Including ‘Our Graham’) have given us permission to share this treasured conversation. Thank you.

Click here for the Jack & John Playlist. 

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Cuimhne exhibition

The Cuimhne exhibition has been installed by skilled hands and we are ready for the main event! Registration begins at 9.30 on Monday 23rd April.

Just a reminder that the An Lanntair building is closed to the public until late in the afternoon on both days, so head to the lanntair.com website or box office to book tickets for any events, workshops or days that you wish to attend.

Lunch and dinner is ticketed over the event and tea/coffee is free to ticket holders during refreshment breaks. The bar will also be open for you to buy any additional drinks.

There is so much to enjoy at Cuimhne, so please use the hashtag #cuimhne and share everything that inspires you.

See you there!

Cuimhne Delegate bags

Gill Thompson has created an original Lino cut tile print design for our delegate bags for Cuimhne. You still have time to book and get your hands on one of these… which will contain a beautiful book about memory in Gaelic and English created by Maggie Smith and our wonderful community.

Studio visit


I popped in to Gill Thompson’s Brevig Harbour studio today, to drop off the Symposium bags for printing and to also drop off some samples of thermochromic ink for Gill to experiment with.

Gill is going to create a new lino cut tile for printing up our bags for delegates with an original print.

Gill has made an Artist Special Edition Sonic Flock goose that she will sew up to complete and it may have some friends by next week.

She is going to mount the collograph pieces that we made together on the ward at Clisham last year and they have now been used to create colourful panels of moorland, shoreline and garden birds (shoreline and garden birds shown here, the completed machair/moorland piece will be ready by Friday). These will be photographed to be printed on to waterproof panels for the Hospital garden and the originals will be framed (after showcasing at the Cuimhne Symposium) and will be donated to NHS Western Isles.

Gill has also created her own Artistic response to the work in a panel of collograph printed geese.

Gill will be offering workshops in creating collograph pieces at our Cuimhne Symposium on the 23rd and 24th April and she will be bringing a portable press so that the work can be completed there and then. Please book on to the workshops you want at registration because the places are so very limited.


Tuesday Ceilidh

Today’s Ceilidh on Erisort Ward saw 4 staff and, Ellie from Alzheimer Scotland, Chris Hammacott and myself gather with three visitors and five people coming from the wards. Talk was about a family accordion player, who composed reels for each person in the family and for special groups and occasions such as graduations and weddings, and the nurses on the medical ward.

We also had some conversation about who knew who, as is usual at these gatherings – one lady had been a teacher at Stornoway Primary and was remembered well by most people at the gathering – one gentleman mentioned ‘it’s okay as long as there is only one!’ It seems two teachers would be just too much.

We passed around Chris’s base for the Memory Tree in progress for the hospital Sanctuary space, letting everyone know that this precious resource will be available to everyone shortly.

Chris Hammacott taught some drop spindle techniques with a vivid orange fleece and this time, even I almost managed it. She must be a truly wonderful teacher. One of the nurses tried to convince me that she was a worse quilter than I am a spinner – she failed. It can’t be possible but I am improving slightly.

I left the tulips with a lady on the ward who had attended last week but was asleep this week. She woke up just at the end of the session, so I left the flowers with her. Her face lit up that she had been included and remembered. ‘They are lovely thank you.’

The ward has a collection of resources to use at the weekly gatherings and Ellie from Alzheimer Scotland always has some interesting news. Today, she was talking about the cruise ship, which came into Stornoway but was unable to dock, which raised a lot of interest among the gentlemen at the end of the table, while munching ginger cake and Stroopwaffels.



Memory Tree

We have been exploring how textiles can support people in many ways recently. Lucy Robertson has been working on the #SonicFlock project and exploring sound technology with people missing birdsong. We have also been looking at lower tech versions of support to people with sleeve puppet prototypes and today, Chris Hammacott brought her work-in-progress Memory Tree to the Sanctuary Space for a meeting with Helen Gallacher.

This project is a collaboration between ourselves and funded by NHS Western Isles. The beautiful fabric tree is the base to hang on the wall and there will be hand crafted butterflies, dragonflies, leaves and flowers, which can be written on and pinned to the tree. The message or name can be public (facing out) or private (facing in). The colours have been chosen to match the image selected to make a vinyl for the wall to it’s right.

Chris will be meeting with groups and individuals to create personal memorials and also to create memorials for others to use, which can be pinned to the tree.

The completed piece will feature ribbons and rings, inspired by public and private acts of remembering, for example the Clootie Well.

Anniversaries, birthdays, times when we want to celebrate a life, times when our hearts are full of absent friends, days which seem impassable without an act of remembrance – this beautiful piece is in the process of being designed by Chris alongside people experiencing loss. This is a preview of the base piece, so that you will all know that love and care went into every stitch and every piece and that shortly, there will be a place to go and create your own memory for the tree, knowing that the community made it with you and for you.



Harris House: willow fish , baskets and bailer twine rope.

This afternoon, we spent a wonderful time at Harris House with Dawn Susan, exploring her baskets, carrying her creels and handling her intricate designs. Much conversation came forth, including from a lady who had not engaged very much with our previous sessions. She was very interested in baskets! She walked around with the creel on her back, laughing, and talked about what she carried in hers as a younger woman. Peats, seaweed and potatoes. Because she had been so interested in the baskets, she felt inspired to have a go at twining some new rope with bailer twine and she made a beautiful piece of coloured rope with Dawn.

Another lady, originally from England but an Island resident for many years, enthused about ‘muran’ the local word for marram grass and she knew all about the grass and what it was used to make, especially thatch. She found the baskets really interesting.

A few of us had a go at a willow fish. I think we made six between us. One lady in the corner wanted to watch me make one as she cheerfully wrote off every man walking past as ‘too young for me dear (giggle).’ Another lady held the fish as I weaved the pieces through before her visitor turned up to chat with her. I finished it quietly at another table and handed it back to her. The lady who made the rope helped Dawn to finish her fish and gratefully tucked it into her bag afterwards (tail poking out, comically), after she had spent some time telling us how her sister (who we had worked with in the morning on Scalpay) was the crafty sister of the family. She seemed pleased enough to have been inspired and involved on some level.

Cathy came along to volunteer and chatted in Gaelic with many of the residents, grateful for the opportunity to talk about the tasks and the baskets in their first language. Cathy made a start on a fish, that we finished in the car on the way home.

It has been wonderful throughout the Arora project work, to be able to share evening class tuition with people who have been unable to attend, for reasons of living in care centres or living in the more remote villages.

The Arora Project is just about over now, bar the completion of the DEEP dance workshops next week and the Cuimhne Symposium in a fortnight. This also marks the beginning of the Cianalas two year body of work, which will focus on research and the main projects will be based around dance, Sonic and Intelligent Textiles, and other research – rooted projects, but will still offer a similarly wide range of opportunities to share cultural and art experiences between us.


The final Scalpay Craft Group Session before Weds 25th April Craft Fayre

Today’s final Craft Group session in Scalpay Community Hall saw four of us learning rope twining from washed beach rope with Dawn Susan, which was carefully collected and washed by Rachel. We also learned twining with bailer twine to make new rope.

Once we had re-made coils of rope, we all had a go at stitching them into mats and baskets, much like a ciosan design.

We had a mooch through a book with some of Lois Walpole’s designs in it and felt inspired.

The next session is the Craft Fayre at Scalpay Community Hall 10am-4pm on Wednesday 25th April. You will be able to enjoy free teaching from Dawn Susan, Gill Thompson, Chris Hammacott and Mhairi Law and collect kits from Mhairi and Chris.

There will be hand crafted items on sale from our Artists and makers at the Scalpay Craft Group , where you can buy hand made local craft items.

The Scarista Piper has promised an appearance!

Scalpay craft group tomorrow

Some pie and quiche baking for tomorrow’s Scalpay group lunch. There is some lentil and bacon soup too. No cake this time, sorry!

Dawn Susan is coming to teach us weaving with beach rope and natural grass/willow all morning at Scalpay Community Hall.

Afterwards, we are heading to Harris House to do it all again.

Come along!

Cuimhne For Everyone

The Cuimhne / Memory Symposium has something for everyone.

If you are interested in island and Gaelic culture, material culture, memory and making, there is a great deal to interest you through exhibition pieces, workshops, music, food, talks and films.

If you are interested in the field of dementia, come and hear from people who live with dementia, visit Alzheimer Scotland and NHS Western Isles staff at their stalls, enjoy films and art made by and with people with dementia and learn about Dementia Diaries and the work of DEEP groups, Life Changes Trust and Sporting Memories. Hear about local support available and rummage through our Memory Boxes and textile or printmaking art kits. Celebrate the past three years of project work with us and look ahead to the next two years. Meet our funders.

There is plenty to inspire academics and students at all levels. Hear from Anthropologists, Researchers, Film Makers and Artists. Enjoy the poster presentations and making sessions. Network at our conference dinner and browse the Exhibition.

For people living with dementia and care partners, enjoy the DEEP gathering, all of the events and two extra mini bus events to visit a local Ceilidh and a craft fayre at Scalpay on Weds 25th April.

Scalpay Community Hall Craft Fayre open to all Weds 25th April 10am – 4pm. FREE entry and opportunities to enjoy the work of local Artists and the Scalpay Craft Group.

Cuimhne will be a two day event that seeks to combine academic thought, archive footage, making and live performance with particular focus on memory, oral tradition and creativity. Cuimhne will also showcase An Lanntair’s Arora project and Dementia Friendly Community initiative.

The event will feature talks, workshops, exhibitions, curated island food events, artists talks and films.

There will be a strong focus on the Gaelic culture and language of the islands, with opportunities to take part in island events.

Speakers include:

Professor Tim Ingold BA, PhD, Chair in Social Anthropology at Aberdeen University

Dr. Cathlin Macaulay from The School of Scottish Studies/Edinburgh University

Dr.Stephanie Bunn from St.Andrews University ‘Woven Communities’ project

Anna Buchanan from Life Changes Trust

Lucy Robertson, PhD researcher in Sonic Textiles for Health and Wellbeing from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

There will be showings of the award winning film ‘Land of Songs’ alongside the dynamic International photographic project ‘Eyes as big as plates’.

Making sessions with Caroline Dear and Dawn Susan will explore aspects of the ‘Woven Communities’ project, combining traditional woven forms and techniques with ancient and more modern materials.

New commissioned pieces from our Arora artists in Uist will be featured in the main gallery as well as making sessions that explore island material culture.

Scottish DEEP (Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project) Group gathering for people living with dementia.

£50 for two days including lunch, tea and coffee and access to all events and workshops

£30 day tickets including lunch, tea and coffee and access to all events and workshops

£15 day tickets including access to workshops, but not lunch

A limited amount of all inclusive or day tickets for people living with dementia and care partners. Contact paula@lanntair.com

Guest list for invited guests working and volunteering in the field of dementia.