Uist Quadrilles & Dancing Memories

We had another lovely day with the children at Balivanich School yesterday. They were learning parts of the Traditional Uist Quadrilles (Part 5 and 6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CZrFL3iuvU ) and then developing these to ‘free style’ some more contemporary versions and create visual patterns of the movement.

The children liked the energetic Part 5 (otherwise known as the ‘Galloping Horses’) where they have to gallop around the whole room.

The children had collected memories from their families about dance; “My Nana said that the twist was the greatest dance ever made and showed me how to do it. ” and “My Mum did Hip Hop and Tap”. We are collecting these memories and putting them together for our Afternoon Ceilidh on the 10th of March (2-4pm) at St Mary’s, Griminish. Please come along and add to the dancing memories!


We were drawing quadrille sets from a bird’s eye view to create movement patterns.

Taping a floor design to create a pathway for dancing on.

This is a project collaborating with Ceòlas dance officer Sorcha Monk. We have based it around the Uist Quadrilles (these were quadrilles specific to each island). We are planning a series of workshops with schools, care homes and have had great support from the local Quadrille dance groups. This will all come together for a wee afternoon ceilidh where you can join in and learn the quadrilles or just watch and reminisce.

We were very inspired by chatting to local Quadrille dancer Morag who told us that many of the older people in the community who no longer danced had previously told her how much they enjoy being able to watch the Uist Quadrilles and how it made them feel like they were dancing again! So whether you want to dance or just watch please come along to our ceilidh and bring friends, neighbours and family.

If you have any memories of the Uist Quadrilles please share them with us, we would love to hear them!



It all starts… — Lucy Robertson

Read about Lucy’s experience of working with us and how it links with her own life experience.

…with the Sheep and the Grass (Yarn, 2016) (or the goats, cotton, flax, silk… or any fiber that can be spun into a yarn.) The story of textiles really begins with the fiber that makes the yarn or thread to then knit, crochet, weave or construct with. I am starting to understand the deeper meaning […]

via It all starts… — Lucy Robertson

Lois Walpole — Lucy Robertson

Follow Lucy’s blog to see how her designs progress during her time with us. 


Inspired by Lois Walpole’s exhibition at An Lanntair one of the first things mum and I did when we arrived on Lewis was to take a trip to the beach to gather some material… I then attended a talk by Lois at An Lanntair who described her relationship with material and sense of homecoming […]

via Lois Walpole — Lucy Robertson

Cuimhne Memory Symposium

Tickets available now!

Tickets are on sale now for our very first Symposium, combining academic thought with artistic inspiration on community and dementia themes.

Hear from people who live with dementia, hear about Life Changes Trust, DEEP, hear about the Arora project work and look ahead to Cianalas project work.

Keynote speaker Professor Tim Ingold, Anthropologist, and Dr Stephanie Bunn, our partner for Woven Communities work.

See live performances, an exhibition encompassing all of the An Lanntair building, films, be inspired by workshops led by the Artists who led our workshops throughout our Arora work.

Enjoy traditional island foods and culture, see public art works created during our project and enjoy Ceilidh gatherings.

There will also opportunities to see the islands at your leisure, including Callanish Stones, Gearannan Blackhouse Village, Doune Carloway Broch, a Tweed weaving mill, over the Clisham to Luskentyre beach, Harris Distillery, maybe an eagle, some of the Uig Chessmen at Lews Castle Museum, travel on ferries to North & South Uist & Benbecula, see the Eriskay ponies and on to Barra and Vatersay, to watch the daily flight land on the beach runway and maybe catch a glimpse of a sea otter, seals and dolphins.

Cathy welcomes you to her island home.

Intelligent Crofting

I took Lucy Robertson, our PhD Student along to meet Chris Hammacott, Textile Artist today, at her croft. We were thrilled to be given a gorgeous piece of tweed with the tied on strands because this was a test piece from Chris learning to weave and proving ability on the double width loom for the mill.

Lucy and Chris started chatting about possibilities and project ideas, how processes of weaving Intelligent Textiles might work, the kinds of responses that can be built in to the fabrics and we booked a spinning lesson with her for after the Scalpay group on Monday afternoon.

Lucy is keen to see all of the processes that go in to creating local fabrics from the grass to the finishing and I’m fascinated by the ideas that both of them are coming up with. Wearable memory technology is coming together with the idea for this new piece of tweed, for our Cuimhne Symposium in April.

We then used the tweed for a waulking song in a care home in Stornoway in the afternoon. See previous blog!

Murdo Carpenter and the Free Milk Allowance

During an Arora movement workshop I heard the unmistakeable Hebridean groundswell voice wave when the melodeon played Hebridean Gaelic Airs.

During one gathering in particular I clocked many lips moving, the slow tap of a foot or hand here and there and the internal light of joyful recognition on faces, some becoming after a while quite animated.

As a privileged Gaelic facilitator on Arora, I followed my instinct to book more session with the very responsive residents and requested an hour long singing session over 4 weeks. This is week 3 and the hour long slot has proved to be a source of laughter, many rousing choruses and new songs…

Òran a’ Bhainne

’S e bhios agam tuilleadh, an àite na bà

Canaistear de bhainne ged nach fhaigh mi bàrr

Bò nach ith’ a’ fodar , bò nach fheum a’ bhathach

Bò nach breith a laogh

’S nach tèid a chaoidh a dh’ àire.

I will no longer be bothering with the cow

It will arrive in a tin but minus the cream

This cow wouldn’t need clover or take up room in the byre

No more calves and the bull will not feel the need to jump the fence anymore.

Ode to National Dried Milk Tins from Harris

After we had finished singing ‘Morag Bheag nighean Mhurchaidh an t-Saor’ a lady of ninety seven taught us all a new version in English!!

Who is that wee girl dancing on the floor?

Dancing on the floor, dancing on the floor

Who is that wee girl dancing on the floor?

Little Murdo Carpenters daughter

What will we do if the wild winds blow?

Wild winds blow, wild winds blow

What will we do if the wild winds blow?

The night before went she to marry

I’d go with you to Meavaig in Uig

Meavaig in Uig, Meavaing in Uig

I’d go with you to Meavaig in Uig

Though it will be stormy and foggy

I can’t wait to see what happens next Thursday at 2pm.




Weaving amongst Weaving Ghosts

We had a wonderful opportunity to work with Dawn Susan today, weaving beachcombed rope into new designs amongst Lois Walpole’s Weaving Ghosts exhibition at An Lanntair.

The talk ranged from heather rope, through crofting and village life, on to intelligent textiles, with a new piece in progress from our wonderful PhD student, Lucy Robertson.

Maria, our fantastic new volunteer came along and supported us today and she left inspired to beachcomb and see what she could do with her new found skills.

11 people came along and either chatted or stayed. We enjoyed a lovely, sunshiney lunch in the Cafe bar, overlooking a sparkling harbour and finished the day with some images of our work by way of a tribute to Lois’s, laid out alongside hers.

I had made rope before both with natural materials of grass, reed, straw and synthetic bailer twine but never with recycled pieces. It is a different experience, working with more fragile pieces. I was very pleased with the result.


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!