Passengers travelling between Ullapool and Stornoway this summer will be able to enjoy a new artwork displayed onboard the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, The Isle of Lewis.
The pop-up installation, which features an illuminated manuscript page made by Black Isle-based artist Thomas Keyes, takes the form of a deerskin parchment decorated with plant-based dyes. Its inspiration is the colours of the landscape and the history of the Uig area on the Isle of Lewis.
The artwork is the outcome of one of a wide range of projects led by the pioneering Creative Futures Partnership between The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), established to deliver transformational benefits to the region.
It was commissioned as part of the Bealach Songlines project; a collaboration involving An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway and local agencies supported by Creative Scotland CP Award. Songlines is linked to Ionad Hiort, a community project to establish a St Kilda visitor centre based in Uig.
Thomas worked with GSA Masters student Mhairi Creanor, to design the final piece.
He said: “I was greatly inspired by the landscape and culture of Lewis, particularly the history of lichen dyeing,.
“It’s very fitting that the work should travel by sea as many of the original manuscripts did. It’sprobably more than 1,000 years since that last happened.”
Songlines takes its name from the Australian aboriginal practice of learning and sharing knowledge of geographic routes through song and poetry.
Drawing inspiration from this tradition, it is hoped that the Songlines project will bring the unique stories of the Hebridean landscape to life, transforming the Stornoway-Uig route into an attraction in its own right.
In total six artists will make artworks for the trail, which will be developed over the next 18 months. Work is currently underway on the second Songlines commission – a new work by Isle of Lewis based artist, Moira Maclean. As a starting point for her commission Moira is considering how the physical journey between Stornoway and Uig relates to emotion and memory.
Keyes’ work will tour island communities later in the summer.