New initiative will see Uig’s oral heritage brought to life

Gaelic artist Mairi Gillies has begun an arts residency to explore and create work relating to the oral heritage of Uig in Lewis.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 10:06 am
Mairi Gillies is also looking to establish a Gaelic arts hub in the area
Mairi Gillies is also looking to establish a Gaelic arts hub in the area

The work is being done through the Tobair an Dualchais initiative – an online resource of Gaelic recordings – and the Skye and Lochalsh-based arts organisation, ATLAS Arts to offer this exciting opportunity.

Mairi has an Honours degree in sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art and has just completed her Masters in ‘Learning and Teaching Gaelic Arts’ with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her work has been exhibited widely and she was the 2019 ‘Critics Choice’ award winner for her Grinneas nan Eilean exhibition.

Originally from Edinburgh, Mairi is a Gaelic speaker who currently lives on Lewis where she is in the process of setting up a Gaelic visual arts hub at Loch Croistean in Uig.

Mairi will focus on recordings from the Uig area, in particular personal accounts of the use of local sheilings, crofting practices and other local lore.

She said: “I’m really excited to have been selected for this residency and to be able to spend time delving into recordings from the Uig area. Although I knew about TAD previously, I had only dipped into it occasionally so it’s a real privilege to research these rich oral accounts.

“I hope to reconnect some of these wonderful stories, songs and poems back into the community and landscape from which they originate.”

To initiate the residency, Mairi participated in the Creative Connections course which was part of the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig short course summer programme.

This three-day course ran on two consecutive weeks and saw 18 participants learn more about the recordings on the website, the tradition-bearers and field workers who made them, and why they are of value today.TAD Director, Flòraidh Forrest, expressed her delight at Mairi being selected for the residency.

“It was great to meet Mairi through our Creative Connections course and it will be exciting to see what she will create over the next few months," she said.

"Working with creative people in local communities is very important to us and since we’ve started running our Creative Connections courses, we have met lots of people who want to learn more about these precious recordings.”