Summer Newsletter

Spoken word version on Soundcloud – click here
Our facebook page – please like and follow us at Cianalas Facebook

The World Cup is well underway and the summer is gloriously back here in Lewis! How about a summer newsletter to keep the good feeling going?

First of all, all of the Spring news:

Cianalas begins

This two year body of work is called Cianalas, a Gaelic word relating to a deep seated sense of belonging to the Hebrides and encompassing all of the culture and the place.
The project is funded by Life Changes Trust and Big Lottery as a partnership and is a dementia friendly community project, which encompasses tackling loss, isolation and loneliness.
The work will not be quite the same as the last three years because our new remit is to root our work in research and academic partnerships. We will be working with academic partners to explore a handful of specific projects, for example Barvas Ware, Dance, Intelligent Textiles, Ceilidh Culture and the memory in song, Photography and Portraiture. We are also looking at digital connections between groups and individuals.

Sonic Flock
Lucy Robertson’s Internship through the Scottish Graduate Placement Scheme is over now but we do hope to continue working with her in the near future. We certainly remain part of her PhD research into how intelligent textiles, in particular sonic textiles, can support communication with dementia.
Lucy and I undertook a five-sites-and-two-islands-in-one-day (Solas, Harris House, Leverburgh Home, Blar Buidhe, Dun Eisdean) gifting tour of Lewis and Harris as part of our Dementia Awareness Week events
before she hopped on the ferry to meet Margaret Joan MacIsaac the other side to visit Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centre, a school and Sacred Heart Care Centre in South Uist to gift the remainder of the birds.
Other textile projects have involved collaborating with the Hospital Chaplaincy Team to create a memory tree piece of textile art with Chris Hammacott to support people with bereavement  and hope at the Sanctuary space, and a wall vinyl. This is now installed and we are completing the project with a door sticker and a hanging textile piece for behind the lectern area to give it a focus. Harris House residents have been working with us on three interactive wall hangings for the second lounge area walkway, which will have lights to switch on, illumnating fishing boats.

Mhairi Law_Cuimhne-130

Cuimhne Symposium
Our Cuimhne Symposium was a massive success with over a hundred people joining us in An Lanntair for the main two day event and a further 30 at Scalpay Community Centre for the Me Time Craft Fayre, including the Psalmboat Project meeting and the DEEP group. The Scarista Piper played for us there, which was such a treat!
You can see the blog post about it here
You can look at the Cuimhne film by Kate Macleod here

Life Changes Trust Human Rights, Citizenship & Dementia Conference
Lucy Robertson and I attended this event with some of our more recent films and textile pieces. It was an emotional one. We may have come a long way but this event served as a stark reminder of how much there is still to do. Human Rights, Citizenship and Dementia Conference 1st May 2018, Life Changes Trust

Scottish Ballet
We hosted three different sessions with Scottish Ballet and their dementia specific dance sessions on Friday 4th May. The team were wonderful and there was an opportunity for intergenerational working in Grianan/Solas in the morning, with two different groups sharing the fun.
Scottish Ballet three times in one day!

Me Time Project is over
The Me Time Project, funded by Wm Grant Foundation and administrated by Life Changes Trust is over now and I have just submitted a final report to Life Changes Trust for passing on to Wm Grant Foundation. The two Grand Finale events were particularly wonderful, with the Scalpay Craft Fayre and the Community Ceilidh at Horshader Shop, where the Me Time guitar group played to a crowd of 40! Here is a blog post about a planting session we did just before the end of the project, in Ness.

DEEP Dance is over
We eagerly await the completed Cultural Movement Film from Maggie but here is the film from the Uist Quadrilles, where we worked with the Uist Quadrilles group, Ceolas and Uist Film to create this intergenerational, community piece.

DEEP Hills of Home project is over
We are waiting for Lorraine at Hebridean Graphics to install the final vinyl at Benbecula Hospital but the images on Erisort Ward, Blar Buidhe and St Brendan’s Home in Castlebay are all in place and looking wonderful.

DEEP Digital Dining is underway!
We have undertaken a trial of digital dining and it looks like it has immense potential. The team is working on a guidance document to support this work going forward and we will be holding more trials this summer. The idea is to link groups to keep in touch with food as a common theme, although language lessons, growing, picnics and cooking are all going to feature.

Inverness Creativity in NHS/Social Care Symposium with Issie McPhail
John and Maggie attended this event in Inverness in June and we had a great deal of interest in the work we are doing, with some people from health and social care teams planning to visit us shortly.

Highlands event with Life Changes Trust
Life Changes Trust is looking to create a collaborative approach to longevity and a Dementia School of Leadership. Paula attended and showcased some of our recent films, while learning about the plans for a united, collaborative way forward.
Highland Collaborative Learning Event

The Material Culture of Basketry
We have been accepted for publication in a Bloomsbury book The Material Culture of Basketry, which is utterly thrilling, that our academic and community work is supporting a wider body of work across Scotland.

Birds flew back to roost on the ward
Our bird print panels, created by people on Clisham and Erisort wards at Western Isles Hospital with Gill Thompson, have been framed and donated to the ward. The gorgeous high resolution images taken by Alex Boyd are going to be printed up for the home where the gentleman now lives, who was heavily involved in creating the images but then went back home to the Uists.

Coming up this Summer

Saturday 30th June, we are holding a peat cutting picnic for anyone who misses getting out on the peats. We have been lucky enough to have my neighbour, Iain T, turf a bank right by the peat road in Shawbost for us, for easy access and we have booked some sunshine after two wet weekends for the occasion. See you there and I will broadcast some of the event through the facebook live event feature.

We are going to be re-making some Barvas Ware Pottery and this will lead to an exhibition and community workshops.

We are planning a Summer of Photography Adventures, so if you fancy a boat trip, a wildlife walk or have other ideas, please get in touch.

After all of the summer holidays, we are planning a ceilidh trail across all of the islands to celebrate and preserve village versions of local songs and dances. This will be a series of community, interactive performances and it may result in a song book or recordings/films as well.

Next year

We are undertaking a collaboration with the international photography project Eyes as big as Plates. It’s the first time it has come to the UK and we are very excited to support older people in our community to create art pieces and to enjoy their own photo shoot.


We are also looking at fishing terms, to build up our fishing memory box.

We will be continuing our ‘In Conversation’ series of podcasts and if you missed Jack & John, please click on the link and have a listen to the glorious conversation, split into bite sized chunks, where Jack Manchester shares thoughts on engineering and life with John Maher.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 17.07.04

At the end of this two year body of work, there will be a showcase event.

That’s it for summer news and I will make another newsletter for you in the Autumn.


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