From September 2017 all four years of the BA Fine Art are being delivered at Lews Castle College UHI, Taigh Chearsabhagh campus in Lochmaddy, North Uist.
The provision of opportunities to study art on Uist has evolved over 20 years, instigated by local demand.
Buoyed by this enthusiasm for learning opportunities, the National Certificate and the first two years of the BA course were established.
A strong and committed cohort of current students have successfully driven UHI approval for Lews Castle College to deliver the full BA course.
Students on the course are delighted with the news.
Holly Moffat-Hardy said: “To put it very simply; I love it. Utilising local knowledge and integrating with such an artistic community, despite the small size, has huge benefits…there is something incredibly unique about having the opportunity to study here, that can really only be understood and enjoyed by those who get the chance to do so.”
By Eilidh Whiteford
In 2015, Susan and Austen Dancey brought Benbecula's old Post Office building back to life, transforming the well-known premises at Creagorry into Puffin Studio Crafts gift shop and gallery.
And since opening its doors in November 2015, the 'new shop' has proved a hit with both the local community and visitors to the isles.
“We had a lot of support locally when we were refurbishing and we feel like we've been well accepted and we're getting a lot of the local community coming in, they like the product lines that we carry,” said Austen.
By Eilidh Whiteford
A passion for knitting and crafts, and a gap in the supply market at home in North Uist, led Kirsty Macleod to establish Kirkibost Craft Hub – providing not only a wide range of materials and supplies, but also a variety of workshops and tuition opportunities to help islanders get creative.
Growing up with a mum from Harris, from a long line of Harris Tweed weavers, and a grandmother from Unst, Shetland, Kirsty learnt her knitting craft early, schooled in Fair Isle patterns particularly by her granny.
“I see these two connections I have with these islands and their traditional craft skills as an opportunity to combine and create a unique brand of craft products and knitwear,” she said.
Craft supplies, gifts and knitwear are plentiful in Kirkibost Craft Hub, but Kirsty wanted more from her business and, as such, presents a series of workshops and short courses for beginners to those more experienced.
Stepping into Gallery 5 is like entering a joyous still-life - a vivid lime-green chaise longue, sunshine on a pine floor, the smell of oil paint. Artwork lines the long, smooth sides of this unique light-filled studio.
Converted from the remains of a blackhouse, Gallery 5 is just a short hop off the West Lewis visitor route, in the crofting township of Tolsta Chaolais. Home spun yarns spiral down a wall, art books jostle on a high shelf, daubs of paint shine like sweets, waiting to be tried.
Featured in the gallery are Margaret Stevenson’s stunning oil and watercolour paintings. Working entirely from sketches and studies, she looks for shape, line and pattern to give an impression of her subject and then paints from these studies to capture the mood of the islands, its forms and life, its ever-changing light.
“When I need a break I head out with my sketchbook and draw,” she says, waving towards the heathery hills rolling down to Loch Roag, dotted with working crofts and drystane walls - a source of endless inspiration.
By Eilidh Whiteford
Pull off the main road in the north Lewis village of Borve and down a small wooded valley with a gently trickling stream, a small slice of near paradise can be found at Borgh Pottery.
The recently refurbished Borgh Pottery is owned and run by potter Sue Blair and offers not only a vast selection of unique, hand-crafted, high-fired stoneware, but also a chance for refreshments with teas and coffees in the pottery's well-established gardens.
Sue moved to Lewis from Lancashire with her husband Alex in 1973, first setting up Stornoway Pottery just outside the main town, before moving to the current premises in Borve in 1978.
Over the following years, the pair saw their pottery business grow, supported from the off by friends, family and the local communities.