Shop Eat Art Skye is possibly the best way to describe a visit to the Isle of Skye Baking Company and Skyeworks Gallery, with a wander down to Guillemot for good measure!
The Isle of Skye Baking Company came first. In 2010 Barry and Liza Hawthorne moved their baking business from the kitchen table into the old woollen mill in Portree (just off Dunvegan Road). The building, once derelict, was brought back to life over three years and now houses a busy food shop with seats, the hands-on working bakery and Skyeworks Gallery.
Guillemot, a gorgeous little boutique, followed last year, and is situated in the heart of Portree in Wentworth Street. This year, in a bid to pull together all three shops and numerous social media sites, they launched a new website www.ShopEatArtSkye.scot, which instantly takes you to visual and location information, and shows off all their Instagram photos, too.
Barry is a pastry chef by trade, and Liza started out as commercial designer. Putting heads and hearts together led to a business that embraces all things related to food and art, while maintaining a strong connection with local provenance, and the creative community.
The bakery produces a range of traditional Scottish shortbread, oatcakes, bannocks and tablet, alongside contemporary baking and flavours. Bread is baked daily, in the early hours and includes yellow corn bread, barley and lavender bread, seeded granary rounds, spelt bread, oat bread and ale bread.
The Lunch bread, however, has become the bakery’s signature bread. It can be described as somewhere between a pie and a sandwich, yet it is neither. It is a soft white or wholemeal dough shaped around a delicious filling. This year’s favourites are breakfast lunch (bacon, black pudding, tomato and onion), spiced spinach chickpea mascarpone, med veggies, roasted butternut squash with bacon, Scottish cheddar and leek, and brie and tomato, to name a few. Breads are sold in the food shop, and at various farmers markets from March to October, including Poolewe on a Tuesday and Portree on a Thursday.
The Foodshop with seats is an informal café, serving all meals and good coffee in compostable table ware. The plates and cups are all made from plant fibre and lined with a corn starch membrane (no plastics) and the cutlery is either wood or corn starch. Apart from the lunch bread, the Foodshop offers cheese boards, soups, quiches, and a plethora of cakes. All soups and quiches are gluten-free and several of the breads and cakes may be vegan, dairy or egg free. There is always something for everyone. It is very child-friendly and there is usually plenty of parking.
Skyeworks Gallery is situated upstairs and covers 200 square metres of floor space and over 30 metres of running wall space, making it the largest gallery on Skye. Skyeworks represents several local artists year round, including Marion Boddy-Evans and Morag Archer. The gallery is home to silver jewellery, metalwork, ceramics and artist-led gifts. Darach furniture, made from reclaimed whisky barrels, is available in all shapes and sizes.
Marion Boddy-Evans is known for her expressive land and seascapes and iconic sheep paintings. The gallery offers her full range of work, including wearable wirework sheep, eagles and fish, printed placemats and coasters, stitched sketchbooks, cards and sheep tea towels. She also tutors at the gallery, and is happy to customise a workshop. This could be a few creative hours for one person or a family, or a week of tutoring for up to eight people.
Morag Archer specialises in mixed media collage and painting, featuring hares, birds, and little white croft houses. Other artists for 2018 include David Deamer (pleine air oils of local landscapes), Pamela Budge (oil on canvas of wild life), Nicky Dagnall (Pastel wild life and croft animals), Sarah Dunton (bright acrylic scenes), Aileen Grant (mixed media and prints), Claire Rooney (oil, still life and landscapes), Graham Stevenson (water colour fish) and Greg Dobson (metalwork).
Last but not least, Guillemot Skye is very worthy of a mention. It is part of the experience, but situated separately on Wentworth Street in the centre of Portree. Guillemot Skye is a curated boutique, and offers a range of hand knitted Aran jumpers, Fair Isle cardigans, selected clothing, gents jumpers and interesting gifts. Open Monday to Saturday, from 10am.