Artistic Inspiration

20 July 2017


Redpoint by Hope Blamire

The Highlands has long been a source of inspiration for painters. From Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen to watercolours by Charles Rennie Mackintosh the natural beauty of the countryside seems to bring out the best in all kinds of artists. The Highlands are still inspiring creatives today, in contrast to the millions paid for contemporary painters such as Jack Vettriano there is a new generation of artists who have moved to some of the most remote parts of the country who have been quietly creating stunning works of art that reflect the timeless landscapes that surround them. Galleries, artists’ villages and workshops now appear all round the north and west; here are a few of our favourites and some of the artists you should look out for.

Anthony Barber moved to the Isle of Lewis more than 20 years ago to paint full time. Over the years his bright, colourful depictions of the Hebridean landscape have earned him a reputation as one of Scotland’s pre-eminent artists. In addition to having his work exhibited at the National Gallery for Scotland and in private collections all over the world he now has his own gallery in Port of Ness where you can buy original paintings and prints. It’s a great place to pick up an island souvenir and even if you are not a serious art collector an interesting way to spend a rainy afternoon. Harbour View Gallery is only a short walk from Taigh Eilidh, from the living room here you have similar views over the beach and you can even see some of the locations that feature in Anthony’s paintings.

Hope Blamire specialises in seascapes of the Western Isles. Her paintings are very much in the Scottish colourist tradition with bright, vibrant colours which successfully capture the atmosphere and feeling of the Scottish landscape. Beaches and machair flowers are a recurring feature in her work and she has probably done more than anyone else in the country to promote the beautiful sandy shorelines and crystal clear waters of the west coast. Although no longer resident in the area, one of the few places her work can be viewed in person is at the Tighnabruaich Gallery in Cowal. This fantastic wee spot is just a short, scenic drive from Kilfinan House, but still easily accessible from the central belt.

Balnakeil Craft Village is based on a collection of ex MOD buildings just outside Durness. The area has been a magnet for creatives for decades and at the moment is home to 3 galleries as well as numerous craft workshops. In addition to original paintings most sell limited edition prints of their work which make unique and affordable holiday souvenirs and brilliant alternatives to clichéd holiday snaps.

Further south on the NC500 Lochinver is most well known as a top foodie destination but the newly opened gallery in the centre of town houses an impressive collection of work by a number of local up and coming artists. Lochinver Landscapes also has a selection of original photography on display and a framing service so you can take home a perfect reminder of your time on the west coast. In the middle of winter it’s a great pick me up to see the majesty of the landscape represented in such an enticing way, it brings back just enough happy memories to tide you over till you can visit again. Culkein Lodge is between Lochinver and Durness, making both easily accessible in a day. It sits on the edge of the sea in a quiet bay where you could easily set up your own easel and spend a day painting the surrounds.

Art Skye is an exciting project to bring together the varied artists and galleries on the island. It is designed to showcase the amazing depth of talent on the island with the publication of an annual Gallery and Studio Trails Guide. A personal favourite would be the Nigel Grounds Gallery in Armadale. Born and raised on the island, Nigel’s passion for the light and drama of the unique Hebridean landscape is evident in his dramatic oil paintings of the Cuillin Ridge. Armadale is tucked away in a quiet corner of Skye just a few miles from Teangue House and the ferry to Mallaig.  Known as the garden of Skye this green and lush landscape is easily absorbed from the comfort of this contemporary home.