Summer Newsletter 2019

This is the Cianalas Dementia Friendly Community project at An Lanntair Summer Newsletter 2019. I’m Paula Brown.

The sun is shining over Stornoway Harbour and I’ve found some office time between the community working days to write a little update newsletter. Have a look at what we have been doing together recently, and at what is coming up over the next few months.

Coming soon – 

July –

Lucy Robertson is back with our Creative Clans project with East Lothian, at the end of July. This links with the Three Harbours Festival in East Lothian. We will be making interactive textile pieces as a community, to craft bomb areas in Stornoway, to offer a playful, interactive opportunity for the public to engage with the project.

We have written a guest blog for BOLD‘s website. This is a new leadership project for dementia across Scotland.

August –

Dawn Susan basketmaking demonstration in Ness

Nevis Ensemble comes to Western Isles Hospital on the afternoon of 26th August.

September – 

DEEP Gathering at An Lanntair – including a brand new play by Ron Coleman 10th/11th Sept. Planning is ongoing!

Life Changes Trust Conference 16th – 18th Sept across the Western Isles. Planning is ongoing!

October –

The Travelling Gallery comes to Barra

Winter 2019 –

The Ceilidh Trail work completes with a cd from the series of recordings that we made plus a celebratory ceilidh on Barra.


Spring 2020 – a celebration event at the end of this funding round, involving an exhibition of the Eyes as Big as Plates work.

Recent Work –

Curious Shoes
This interactive play written for (and in collaboration with) people who have dementia came to the Western Isles with some funds and support from our project. We shared three performances in three day and care centres and reached 70 people with the work.
Each performance was very different, as audience participation forms so much part of the show and each person contributed something wonderful to the experience.
‘That was wonderful! Just wonderful!’ ‘We danced…….together!’ ‘I hope I didn’t break the camera!’
It was also fantastic to have the opportunity to chat with Director Magdalena Schamberger about how the play was put together, with all of the separate elements and how thins links with our current research work.
The colourful pictures tell the story here.

Care Home Open Day

Artist Margaret Ferguson worked with residents at Blar Buidhe Care Centre on painting still life pieces (did you catch her outstanding Iolaire 100 portrait project, where she painted the faces of 100 of the men on the Iolaire, which tragically sank on New Year’s Day 1919?).
While she worked, I spent some quiet time painting and drawing one to one with residents who needed more personal support. This is one of the values of being able to work with people on a longer term basis – the relationships built and maintained are so important with this project work .
We begin Margaret’s next project today, to draw people’s portraits as she chats with them, when we take quality arts materials to a lady in her bed at the end of the corridor, and a pot of flowers to draw. We recorded her voice last last time we visited.
‘My father sailed with Captain Scott, on the Discovery’ she recalled. ‘I used to enjoy art but I can’t grip so much now.’
I offered a set of chunky oil pastels, a pad of nicely textured paper and a small canvas ‘for when you feel braver’.
Then I left Margaret taking photographs as I had to dash to meet a lady from a local newspaper but I had this gorgeous email later from Margaret.
‘I’m attaching photos (of her) to give you an idea of what I’d like to use for the project. She was amazing, sat drawing flowers for 20 minutes. The staff are going to forward them to her daughter on the mainland.
The power of art!’
And the images were gorgeous too! These are just my snaps of the day.

Eyes As Big as Plates

As part of the Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing 2019, we hosted International Photographers Riitta and Karoline for their Eyes as Big as Plates project work. We held an Artists Talk at An Lanntair and a community workshop and several photography days – one where we buried a member of staff in a peat bank! The images will be processed for an exhibition in the near future and Jon is going to write a blog shortly, about the process of this work.


DEEP Gathering in Edinburgh –

We heard one of the songs live, for Ron Coleman’s play, performed by Paul Thomas at this gathering in Edinburgh, and we presented Lucy Robertson’s PhD work, in connection with Dementia Friendly East Lothian, Creative Clans, funded by DEEP. If you are living locally and have a dementia or cognitive impairment and would like to be part of a DEEP group of friends for companionship and if you like, to campaign to change things which are important to you, please let Paula know. email Paula


Presenting our DEEP funded grant work with Creative Clans at the Working Together gathering in the Midlands. We did this through a Zoom video conference to save travel funds.

Maggie Smith and I spoke in the Spring at Luminate at Aros on Skye on the subject:
“What Makes a Good Arts Project for People Living with Dementia and Older People?”

In April, we fired the raku pieces from the Barvas Ware project on Bosta Beach in paper kilns with Ceramicist Jana Grimm and Library staff Helene Lagrange.


Ongoing work

Duncan Mackinnon on Barra has been working with local musicians to bring music, reminiscence, travel memory box and Men’s Group work to the people of Barra and to Sacred Heart Care Centre in South Uist.

We take turns to support the collaborative NHS Ward Tuesday Ceilidh once a month with events, festivals, music and the evening class programming. The Tuesday Ceilidh turned three this spring with a birthday ceilidh with Dalbir Singh Rattan, star of An Lanntair’s Purvai festival.