Last month I spent ten days on Lewis and Harris, running schools workshops around the Artist Rooms exhibition Ian Hamilton Finlay: Sailing Dinghy at An Lanntair in Stornoway. The centrepiece of the show was a real dinghy given to Finlay, but it was too big for the lochans at Little Sparta. So it was never sailed, and it’s also unamed.
I worked alongside artist Jon Macleod, and as well as working in the gallery, we were able to take some groups out to the beach. Most of the pupils we worked with were familiar with boats, having sailed themselves or, if not, seeing the array of boats in Stornoway harbour or at other moorings around the island.
At the beach we said sad farewells to a dead dolphin beached after a high tide, named and drew boats, and wrote ‘horizon poems’ – the line in the middle is the horizon, and above it you write a few words describing what you see above the horizon; and below the line, what you see below.
Sometimes the waves got the better of us. When I asked Adam what he written, he cried ‘I can’t remember!’ So he got on with writing a new poem.
While there I met writer and sailor Ian Stephen, and one afternoon he took me out on El Vigo across a sunny and becalmed Stornoway Bay.
I also managed a couple of stations for The Road North, Dun Carloway on the west coast of Lewis, and Rhenigidale on Harris; the blogs about these will appear soon on the website.