Artists in residence bound for remote St Kilda

St Kilda lies 40 miles out into the Atlantic ocean from the Scottish mainland. Picture: Ian Rutherford
St Kilda lies 40 miles out into the Atlantic ocean from the Scottish mainland. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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TWO artists have beaten off competition from over 100 applicants for residency posts on the remotest outpost in the UK.

The pair – Alex Hartley from London and Lewis artist Jon Macleod – will work in the isolation of St Kilda archipelago, which lies 41 miles west of the Isle of Benbecula.

Picture: Ian Rutherford

Picture: Ian Rutherford

The National Trust for Scotland and Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre on North Uist had earlier this year called for artists to apply for two residency spots this summer – to be funded by the Year of Natural Scotland.

Alex Hartley will travel to St Kilda on 25 June and Jon Macleod will travel at the end of July.

The artists were selected from a list of over 100 applicants of very high calibre by the residency selection panel.

The panel said they felt that both artists were very original and talented with an insightful involvement in the natural world.

They hope their work would reveal many of the extraordinary qualities of St Kilda.

Andy Mackinnon, Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre said: “This is a superb opportunity for any artist.

“St Kilda is a very special place. We are really looking forward to what Alex Hartley and Jon MacLeod make of it.”

Susan Bain, National Trust for Scotland said: “St Kilda has inspired many artists over the years and we are looking forward to seeing how this special place influences these two very different, contemporary artists.”

Artist Alex Hartley said: “I’m extremely privileged to have been selected for the St Kilda Artist Residency Scheme 2013.

“The opportunity to spend time in this most remote part of the British Isles is a truly exciting prospect. I intend to use the residency to collect images, stories and ideas of life from this place at an edge of our world.

“The gathered material will go towards the inspiration and basis of artworks to be made on my return.”

The resulting works will be exhibited at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre as part of their The Fragility of Flight project in 2014.

This programme commenced in 2005 and from 27 April till 27 July, Taigh Chearsabhagh will host an exhibition of ornithological/environment-themed contemporary artwork from artists all over the world, including some from the Outer Hebrides.

St Kilda was famously evacuated last century.


The largest island in the archipelago, Hirta, was occupied until 1930 when the last islanders left after they asked to be evacuated because their way of life was no longer sustainable.

Last year, evidence of a permanent settlement was uncovered on another, smaller island.

Previously it was thought Boreray was only visited by islanders to hunt seabirds and gather wool from sheep.

St Kilda was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1957 and allocated World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1986 in recognition of its natural heritage, exceptional natural beauty and for the significant natural habitats that it supports.

In July 2004 this was extended to include the surrounding marine environment and in 2005, recognition was also given to St Kilda’s unique cultural landscape.


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