Autumn newsletter 2019

This summer has been the busiest ever! Have a look at what we have been doing before looking ahead to the Autumn season.

Eyes as big as plates

An Lanntair hosted the international photography project Eyes as Big as Plates over the early part of the summer. The team worked from South Uist to Ness, in peat bogs and rocky landscapes, creating natural, wearable sculptures and taking portraits for an exhibition in the Spring. It was part of 2019’s Luminate Festival.

Exhibition to follow early next year!

Care home open day

Margaret Ferguson and I took some art materials, natural materials, fruit and flowers in to Blar Buidhe Care centre for their Care Home Open Day event earlier in the summer. We spent time together drawing from the items in front of us, exploring watercolour and pastels.

This event supported Margaret Ferguson through An Lanntair’s Artist Support Co-ordinator Sandra Kennedy to continue to work on her artistic practice since her Iolaire portrait work from photographs, by drawing portraits of the people living in the care centre, while spending time talking together.


I wrote A Day in the Life blog for BOLD Bringing Out Leaders in Dementia project.


Curious shoes

An Lanntair supported Curious Shoes with their Hebridean Tour this summer. An interactive play created for people living with dementia and their family, friends, neighbours, those who care, this was joyful and playful and the talent of the cast was most obvious in their flexibility and their ability to embrace full audience participation. The original music was wonderful, too!


Nevis Ensemble Hebridean Tour

An Lanntair supported the Nevis Ensemble with their Hebrides Tour. We welcomed them through the project to Western Isles Hospital yesterday and oh my goodness – I had never imagined a full orchestra in a hospital cafe before! I heard musicians afterwards describing the ‘transformational’ effect on the audience, many of them arriving in wheelchairs from the wards, the tears, the singing along. I would say that the transformation also reached the performers. Barely a dry eye in the house! These incredible people treat their tour as a holiday and don’t receive payment for the performances. I heard stories of being chased off St Kilda by a storm after the incredible high point of being the first orchestra to ever play there, barely getting back safely, and of sleeping on community hall floors, and of G&T on the beach. A grand adventure! The orchestra learned some Gaelic to perform a waulking song together, which was a whole new experience, adding a choir and full, rich orchestral sound to a traditional basic beat working song. I had to go along and see them again at the Callanish Stones last night, sadly rained off to the visitor centre but the vastly diverse repertoire offered some massively thought provoking listening experiences and it was wonderful to see people of all ages gathering to enjoy people of all ages performing. Check out the ensemble website and YouTube videos!



Lucy Robertson and Creative Clans

Have you noticed the craft bombing decorations outside An Lanntair and Solas this week? Go and have a look, because they are in place for a limited time only. They are part of Creative Clans, An Lanntair’s partnership project with Dementia Friendly East Lothian through Lucy Robertson’s PhD research into Intelligent Textiles for wellbeing. These pieces were made across the community in hospital, day and care centres and in open public sessions at An Lanntair, from a mixture of washed marine waste and thermochromic thread and some UV reactive beads. The project supports friendships made between the communities through DEEP gatherings and has been funded by DEEP. The installations will come down at the end of the Scottish DEEP gathering on 11th September.

Tuesday Ward Ceilidh

We had a couple of mentions in the Slainte staff magazine this Summer. Next week at Western Isles Hospital, Margaret Ferguson brings her Iolaire portraits to talk about at the Tuesday Ceilidh, following on from initial care home ‘bedside exhibition’ sessions.


Play and DEEP gathering

We have been recording in Wee Studio recently and are there again tomorrow, recording music and a Flash Briefing for Ron Coleman’s play and voice over for a film for Life Changes Trust’s three day conference event later in September.


The cast and production/tech team has been developing and rehearsing the play since June.


Ron Coleman’s play is called Caught in a Moment of Time and comprises Act One of a wider three act play that he has written to showcase his funded research into self-management of his cognitive impairment through AI/Alexa and to imagine our future relationship with such technology. The play has some gritty moments but is ultimately hopeful and features a beautiful Gaelic Waulking song from Alice Macmillan, folk songs from DEEP’s Paul Thomas, Contemporary and tango dance and poetry from Ron within the script. The play is free to attend on 10th September at 8pm but you need a ticket so grab one while they last!

The play is the cornerstone of the Scottish DEEP gathering at An Lanntair over 10th/11th September.

Life Changes Trust three day conference event

Life Changes Trust are holding a three day event on 16th/17th/18th September across the islands with a live link to the conference at An Lanntair on 18th September through the Life Changes Trust facebook page. The event includes storytelling sessions for people living with dementia, people who care and people who work in the field of dementia, to tell their stories to feed in to the conference.

Life Changes Trust have been holding regional events in all areas of Scotland and launching a new local grants programme in each area. Sign up for the free conference on eventbrite now to find out all about it.





Travelling Gallery to Barra on Thursday 17th October – more news about where shortly.

Duncan continues his reminiscence, photography, Transport Memory Box work on Barra but he has recently been branching out by including volunteer musicians in his performance work on Barra and he has started making monthly trips to South Uist to perform at Sacred Heart Care Centre. Sadly, we couldn’t quite meet up last time we were there because ferries were on yellow alert but he followed our session with Lucy Robertson and Margaret Joan MacIsaac by a day or two with another much loved performance.

The Material Culture of Basketry

The Bloomsbury book The Material Culture of Basketry through the University of St Andrews is almost finished. I sent my bio in today for my section of the book, detailing Woven Communities work across the Uists and other hand memory work. It will be wonderful to see this in physical book form – a permanent record of the wonderful contribution that this community has made to academic research. Jon Mcleod has also written a section of the book.

Dementia Inclusive Choirs Network event
Luminate are holding a dementia inclusive choirs event at the end of September at An Lanntair. More news about that shortly from Luminate.



Goodbye for now!

These newsletters are a labour of love, which take an entire day but I am sad to say that this will be my last one!

I’m stepping away from the project to put a roof on my Aberdeenshire house for a while. Managing a project house while renting here has proven too much of a juggle and winter will be approaching inside the cottage unless I go and roll up my sleeves! In the new year, I will think again about where to work/live and have no immediate plans except to see what comes up.

2019 has been unbelievably hard work but equally inspirational. It has been an amazing five years working on the project, across communities and within a dedicated and talented An Lanntair team and with funding partners who have all been so much more than funders.

Our project achievements have all been collaborative.

I have learned so much and made so many friends here. Thank you all for your support and massive contributions. Keep in touch because I’m not going far!

With love,



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