Book festival sees Portree book launch

One of the events on the first day of the Skye Book Festival saw Ian G Macdonald launch his new book 'Memories of a Portree Kid' which looks at local life from a bygone period.  The event was chaired by Alister Ross and the author signed books for members of the audience after the discussion was over.


Fèis Leabhraichean an Eilein/Skye Book Festival

Starting on Thursday September 3rd and running until Saturday 5th,  the 2015 Skye Book Festival brings another series of events presenting chapters in the lives of internationally famous authors alongside local writers, artists and story-tellers.

This year’s Festival welcomes Val McDermid who is one of the biggest names in crime writing. Val will talk about her latest book Splinter The Silence her most gripping, chilling, suspenseful novel yet, featuring two of the most distinctive and unforgettable characters in crime fiction: Tony Hill and Carol Jordan.

Further murder (of the fishy kind) follows, as depicted by Donald S. Murray at his Herring Tales book launch - the story that was of central importance to the lives of our ancestors, noting how both it - and those involved in their capture – were celebrated in the art, literature, craft, music and folklore of life in northern Europe. He will be joined by the fantastic illustrator Douglas Roberston who, as a visual artist, has worked on a number of Donald’s books.

Ian G Macdonald will also launch his new book Memories of a Portree Kid which looks at village life from a by-gone period whilst DJ MacLennan examines the future with his new book Frozen to Life: A Personal Mortality Experiment.

A further new title launched at the Festival will be Gaelic in the Landscape: Place-names of  the Isle of Skye. Eilidh Scammell and Dr Jacob King have worked with local people to record many of these place-names that might otherwise have been lost – the presentation will be given by Robyn Ireland SNH’s Gaelic Officer.

Award-winning children’s author Theresa Breslin has collected the best-loved tales from all over Scotland in her book An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures.  Retelling each in its own individual style, she presents funny tales, moving tales and enchanting fairy tales. Each story is brought to life with exquisite illustrations by Scottish fine artist Kate Leiper. And, Anne McAlpine  will share her exciting new children’s book The Silver Locket to the children of Staffin and Kilmuir Primary Schools.

Michael Russell will introduce his captivating debut novel, Lie of the Land, set in a post-apocalyptic near-future Scotland, predominantly in the fictional Highland coastal village of Inverlair. And, Rody Gorman presents his latest work, Sweeney: An Intertonguing which is based on the medieval Gaelic romance The Frenzy of Sweeney. It consists of a multiform, multilingual and polysemantic series of poems, songs and prose passages in Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and English.

Add to the programme the annual PBFA Antiquarian Book Festival, Poetry Readings, Book-binding Workshops and a Poetry Walk around Portree and the three days of the Festival seem just too short a time.

But to finish off, on the Saturday evening The Highland Voyage of Para Handy and the puffer crew comes to life again commemorating a voyage from Glasgow to Skye. What results is a comedic tongue-in-ear romp by three troubadours of this cross-culture: Iain MacLeod, Russell Hunter and Allan MacDonald, who add their own diverse musical talents to put the icing on the black pudding. So, it’s anchors a-weigh for a musical cruise aboard the good ship Vital Spark, Neil Munro’s iconic Clyde puffer. A fitting climax to another exciting Skye Book Festival.


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Corinna's books…works of love and art

Pick up a book from Sollas Bookbinding and you hold in your hands a complete original.  

Owner, Corinna Krause, not only binds every book herself, she also creates her own unique paper for each cover.

 "I developed my own way of making decorative papers by adapting wax paper-making to suit what I need for my covers," she reveals. The result is that no two papers are ever the same!  

Corinna describes her technique, saying: "It starts off with a plain sugar paper, to which I add layers of ink and wax.  At the end, I iron out the wax and end up with a paper that has really warm and vibrant colours.  It is sturdy and tactile at the same time - people just love the feel of it." 

Corinna's work will be showcased at the Aros Centre in Portree, where she is involved in The Skye Book Festival on the 4th and 5th of September. 

"I am doing two separate workshops, but they work together as a series if people want to attend both," explains Corinna.  "The first workshop will show how to make a hand-sewn notebook using a very simple sewing technique.  People will be able to leave the workshop with a memorable but simple way of creating their own books."

The second day workshop will feature the oldest form of bookbinding - coptic binding.  "The beauty of this technique is that the books lie perfectly flat, so it's a brilliant structure for artists or writers," Corinna enthuses.   Corinna's studio is based in Sollas, North Uist - from there she creates books, makes boxes and works on commissions and book repairs.  

"Over the last couple of years, I also worked on several commissions for presentation boxes for artists, which I personalise by inlaying the artist's work into the lid."   Corinna's wide range of skills means she is very much in demand - as well as selling her work, she continues to offer workshops to pass on her skills to others.   

What is Corinna's favourite aspect of her craft?  "It's exciting that, out of something that's two-dimensional, like a piece of paper, you can create an object of aesthetic beauty.  I'm really excited about teaching - people can go away with something they've made themselves that they can put to their own creative use.  That's a wonderful thing." 

Does Corinna have any plans for her business?  She replies: "We are building our new family home at the moment, where I plan to have my new studio.  I hope it will be ready by next Easter.  "the Outer Hebrides has such a wonderful potential for visitors to engage in a creative holiday - there are lots of artists and craft-makers.  And, with my new studio, I can get people to engage with me and other artists." 

In the meantime, you can see Corinna's work in her studio in Sollas or find it available on her website (, where you can contact Corinna for your personal one-to-one bookbinding tuition. "If you would like to explore your own creativity and learn how to design your own bespoke books, visit the Aros Centre, Isle of Skye on the 4th and 5th of September from 10am.

Artist's annual show starts

Opening today at midday, in An Talla Dearg Gallery across the road from Hotel Eilean Iarmain, on Isle Ornsay, Sleat, (IV43 8QR) is well-known artist Pam Carter's annual Skye Exhibition for 2015

This runs until 24th August.

Pam says: "As always, there will be the full range of giclée and lithograph limited edition prints, mugs, cards, books and also some of Ruth Swan's beautiful jewellery.

"I will be present most of the time as I usually paint in the gallery.

"The opening is 18th July 12pm until 2pm for wine and canapés.

Pam's mailing address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the gallery phone number is  01471 833 799


Farm Clusters and Machair 32"x32"


Stream to The Cuillin 32"x32"


Echo of the Cuillin 12"x12"

Photographs by Philip Gorton

Sleat Sandwich
A small coloured rock section at Ord, usually under water and covered with seaweed, hence the saturated colours in the image. Shot on film negative, using an extension tube to get close enough to remove any sense of scale and perspective, using good natural light but not sunshine, which would reflect back from the wet rock, losing colour strength.

Insider Dealing
A wild foxglove on croftland, shot with a macro lens and looking upwards into the flower. Shot with the sun hiding from the lens directly behind the flower head, so the markings inside the flower gain as much light as possible from an outside source, enhancing their natural colour. Removing the outside of the petal structure further emphasises an abstract image.

Photographs by Philip Gorton