Harris Tweed Festival

Last Saturday was the highly anticipated Harris Tweed Festival, a celebration of all things Harris Tweed! The day began with the Harris Tweed Bike Ride which brought riders of all ages decked out in their finest tweed outfits hoping to be in with a chance of winning the coveted ‘Geansaidh Buidhe’ knitted by Island Stitches and reminiscent of another important yellow jersey… Participants cycled the town stopping off at local businesses for refreshments and some ceilidh music.

The cyclists dressed in tweed and ready to go for the Harris Tweed Bike Ride

The first pit-stop was at Charles MacLeod’s Butcher for a quick breakfast of black pudding before they headed off again, this time stopping at Harris Tweed Hebrides for some sweet treats and a spot of delicious Harris Gin! On the second lap the riders had a break at the lovely By Rosie for some tweed moustaches and bow-ties and then finished off back at An Lanntair for well deserved tea and scones and the awarding of the Geasaidh Buidhe to the best dressed cyclist. It was a great event and a fantastic opening to a day of Harris Tweed festivities.

Pit-stop for some black pudding at Charles MacLeod Butchers
Tweed moustaches at By Rosie
The best dressed winners of the Geansaidh Buidhe and the yellow Harris Tweed

It was an action packed day with something for everyone to get involved in with guest speakers, music, films and workshops on all day.


Weaving workshop


The Laxdale Choir singing beautiful waulking songs

The speakers throughout the day gave a sense of the story of Harris Tweed from its very beginnings to the worldwide status it has now and also gave us a look forward into the future at the possibilities and plans for the Harris Tweed industry. Every speaker gave their own unique insight into the journey Harris Tweed has taken from a cloth woven for warmth and protection against harsh cold to a luxury cloth in worldwide demand.


Dr Mary MacLeod-Rivett giving her talk on the beginning of weaving in the Outer Hebrides
Mrs Janet Hunter, The Islanders and the Orb
Panel discussion chaired by Alasdair MacLeod

The fashion show at the end of the day was perhaps the most obvious look into the future of Harris Tweed. The event showcased the work of designers and makers working in the islands today and gave pupils from the Nicolson Institute the chance to strut their stuff on the catwalk after a week of practising their walking and choreography. The incredibly talented designers had created beautiful pieces of clothing from tweed that not only showed their skill and craftsmanship but also gave a clear sense that with such a talented committed force behind it, the Harris Tweed industry is only set to get stronger.

A design by Harris Tweed Hebrides
A model wearing a Rarebird design
The models and designers on stage



‘An Bealach’ Artwork Commission

As part of the Bealach project An Lanntair and the Glasgow School of Art invited artists to respond to a public commission to create a new public artwork for the route between Stornoway and Uig responding to the themes of cultural life and the geographical context. The commission is part of the ongoing collaborative Songlines project between the St. Kilda Centre, Ionad Hiort, and the Glasgow School of Art exploring the potential for artistic interventions on the journey between Stornoway and the site of the proposed St. Kilda Centre in Mangersta, Uig.

The successful artist, Thomas Keyes, has created an illuminated manuscript using bold colours and imagery, drawing inspiration from the colours of the local landscape and the history of Uig.

The artwork’s first stop on it’s journey between Stornoway and Uig was onboard Stornoway’s Loch Seaforth ferry over the busy festival weekend.

Artist Thomas Keyes with his artwork onboard the ferry


The artwork continued it’s journey this week and was installed in the Callanish Visitor Centre where it will stay for the next week before moving on to it’s next destination along the route from Stornoway to Uig.

Brian Dixon from the Glasgow School of Art and Catherine MacLean from An Lanntair installing the artwork in Callanish


To find out more about the Songlines Project visit our website:

Glasgow School of Art Artist Commission

Bealach: Hebridean Women and the Ceilidh Trails



Last week An Lanntair celebrated the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival which included two amazing Bealach events.

Wednesday saw the stunning Hebridean Women concert launch the festival with beautiful performances from traditional Gaelic singers Julie Fowlis, Kathleen Macinnes, Cathie Ann MacPhee, Isobel Ann Martin and Mary Smith.

Hebridean Women: Mary Smith, Isobel Ann Martin, Julie Fowlis, Kathleen Macinnes and Cathie Ann MacPhee


The performances showcased a selection of songs and music from the Hebrides written for and about women which captivated the audience. With singers spanning generations there was a certain ‘master and apprentice’ element to the evening that added to the tradition and heritage of the event.


It was a mesmerising evening and each and every performance had the audience in a stunned silence and yet there was still plenty craic between songs which lifted the spirits of all who attended!

The week also brought performances from the Ceilidh Trail band, a group of incredibly talented young musicians from the Highlands and Islands. It was an early start on Thursday as they played for passengers onboard the Isle of Lewis ferry as they boarded and disembarked, a heartwarming goodbye to those leaving Stornoway and a very fitting welcome to those arriving for Heb Celt festivities! It was very well received by visitors and locals alike despite the early hour.

The Ceilidh Trail band onboard the Isle of Lewis ferry

Friday was another busy day as the band went on tour of Lewis and Harris. Starting the day with a family ceilidh in Martin’s Memorial Church they then went on to play in the beautiful Isle of Harris Distillers and the bustling Callanish Visitor Centre before ending the day with a performance at the Woodlands Centre in Stornoway.




All sessions were thoroughly enjoyed by those watching and compliments for the talent of the young musicians were flowing in every place they visited. The Ceilidh Trails are continuing over the next month so keep and eye on their Facebook page for more details of events and performances.




Bealach; Gateway to the Hebrides, Creative Place Award winners 2015 to commission New Artworks for Lewis and Harris.


The Bealach team is excited to announce two new artist commissions. Bealach is a Lewis and Harris based creative project celebrating the art and culture of the Outer Hebrides. Bealach is funded through Creative Scotland’s Creative Place Awards 2015, led by An Lanntair with projects to be delivered over 2015-2017.

New artist commissions will see the implementation of specific and innovative creative projects in Lewis and Harris. An open call to artists asked that they submit applications responding to the theme of ‘Bealach’ the Gaelic word meaning passage or gateway. Following a strong response and high calibre of submissions two artist proposals were selected.

Commission winners Philippa Thomas and Hector MacInnes said; “We’re really looking forward to finally telling the story of the Slighe Sìoman and the Hebridean Cable Transit Company, which has fascinated us ever since we first visited Lewis. We spent a part of 2012 working in Lochs, and were intrigued by how accessibility and transportation can change and rebalance the culture of an area. We hope that learning about the Slighe Sìoman will encourage people to think about Stornoway’s place in Lewis, and the Outer Isles’ place in the world.”

A second commission was also awarded to Lewis based artist Jon Macleod. His project is entitled ‘Deiseal’ the Gaelic word meaning “sun wise” or direction of the sun. Using solargraph photography and long-exposure the artist will record the path of the sun, across the landscape of Lewis and Harris from the Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year Dec 2015; to the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year June 2016. The imagery will reflect this circular nature both in format and content.

Both projects are due to be exhibited in An Lanntair’s Galleries in the autumn of 2016.

Project Curator Catherine Maclean said: “We are delighted to announce the first commissions for Bealach. This is such an exciting project for Lewis and Harris and a great opportunity to promote, celebrate and support the artistic community of Lewis and Harris.”

Philip Deverell, Director, Strategy, Creative Scotland said: “It is exciting to see the imaginative and high quality programme of work in and around Stornoway, and we are pleased to have supported it through a Creative Place Award.   These commissions celebrate and offer a fresh and creative perspective of the area’s unique natural landscape, language, culture and heritage.”

Bealach Out and About!


Look out for Bealach out and about this month!

Creative place launch flyer

October is our launch month and we hope to get as many people involved and aware of the award as possible.

The  official launch event will be held at An Lanntair on the 29th of October so throughout the month expect to see us in all kinds of different places promoting Bealach.

For the Young ones and the holiday’s we have a series of workshops out and about in the community – Creative Giants! Where children will be working on a giant map of the island designing and making their own Creative places

Today we will be at the Co op on Macaulay road where you can come and chat to us to find out more about the project and tomorrow morning at An Lanntair we start our series of workshops ‘Creative Giants’

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Come and see us at the co op and book your workshop tickets at an lanntair box office.

It’s a community award and project and we want you all to share in this with us and become involved!

New Opportunities for Artists through the Creative Place Awards Programme – Bealach

An Lanntair is delighted to today announce two exciting new opportunities for artists and creative practitioners through the Bealach Programme – a new collaborative creative programme being delivered with funding from Creative Scotland’s Creative Place Awards 2015.

Stornoway and the Isles of Lewis and Harris were successful in winning the Creative Place Awards 2015.  The award is both an accolade and a grant to take forward a programme of arts interventions and activities over the next two years.  This programme is called ‘Bealach’.  ‘Bealach’ will be a transformational programme that seeks to represent Stornoway and the Isles of Lewis and Harris as the gateway and passage into the Gaelic culture, creative communities and landscape of the Outer Hebrides.

The first opportunity announced today is a call for artists to produce artwork that responds to the theme of “Bealach – A Gateway to Gaelic Culture and Landscape”.  This is a unique opportunity for an artist to have the freedom to explore and interpret the theme of the Bealach programme and create artwork that will be installed, presented or performed at a location in or around Stornoway town.  Download the full Call for Artists here: http://lanntair.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Bealach-Call-for-Artwork.pdf

The second is a transformational opportunity for six local creative people from Lewis and Harris to receive invaluable support and mentoring over the coming winter months from professional artists.  A fabulous pool of creative professionals are available as mentors, including published writers, professional musicians, highly experienced record producers, acclaimed visual artists, professional theatre practitioners, renowned film makers, successful fashion designers and more.  This is a potentially life changing opportunity for new and emerging creative practitioners and entrepreneurs to transform their future.  Download the full Expression of Interest here:  http://lanntair.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Creative-Mentoring-Opportunity.pdf

An Lanntair’s Chief Executive, Elly Fletcher, said: “It’s a great feeling to get the Bealach programme off the ground with two fabulous opportunities for artists and creative practitioners.  Lewis and Harris has a thriving creative and cultural sector, full to bursting with talent.  I’m looking forward to seeing Bealach celebrating the incredible talent that’s already out there and providing a platform and way forward for new artists and creative practitioners to break through.” 

If you would like to find out more about other projects in the Bealach programme and how to get involved, An Lanntair will be hosting a launch and celebration event with the Lewis and Harris community on Thursday 29th October at 5.30pm in the An Lanntair Gallery – come along, raise a glass together, and get involved!

After our first successful event on Thursday night here at an lanntair gallery  we took to the road through the ‘Bealach’ ; Gateway and made our way to the Mission House Gallery in Finsbay Isle of Harris for what was another spellbinding performance from Jessica.

Thanks all at the Mission House for making us so welcome and providing the beautiful, ambient and unique setting which made the performance all the more special.

Jessica gave her last performance back here at An lanntair gallery on Saturday afternoon, another beautiful performance set amongst the powerful and compelling work of Will Maclean.

The performances were a captivating combination of hypnotic imagery and mesmerizing music, powerful stuff and a wonderful way for us to start off with our project.

Look out for us out and about next month with more information on the project and how you can get involved.

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