A collection of diverse ideas for a new sculpture to commemorate the Iolaire disaster for its 100th anniversary on January 1st 2019 was voiced at An Lanntair arts centre, Stornoway yesterday (Monday) evening.
A large audience listened attentively as a panel of artists Will Maclean RSA, Marian Leven RSA and Arthur Watson RSA explained the inspiration behind the various design ideas which have been on display in the foyer area of the arts centre over the Easter weekend.
The original remit for the designs was to create a bronze sea or land sculpture to be located on or near the site where the vessel was wrecked.
It is intended that it will complement the present memorial, encourage deep reflection, symbolise, represent and commemorate survivors, those lost, their families and the survival of the community itself.
When the presentation was opened to the audience it was soon clear that many felt it would be appropriate if the names of those who were on board the Iolaire (both those lost and those who survived) were included in the memorial.
A point was made that the headstones of those lost do not mention the Iolaire at all, but instead state the last ship that the man had served with and that the memorial should include the names (and perhaps also the nicknames) of those on board.
A suggestion of commemorating the disaster at Stornoway Harbour was also held to be appropriate as that is where the vessel should have berthed to allow the men to step foot on to home soil once more.
A wider proposal talked of the creation of a coastal path from Holm to the harbour and for each of the communities who lost men to have smaller versions of the memorial or some other commemorative aspect for the 100th anniversary.
The panel were grateful to the many ideas generated by the evening and it is hoped that this collaborative approach will find a design which will meet with wide approval.
Feedback from the evening is expected to be available online and further consultation on the proposals is ongoing.
When the design idea is finalised An Lanntair will develop a funding strategy, which will invite people to contribute through crowdfunding and subscriptions to the development of the sculpture.