The Artists of Eigg

Eigg is home to so much more than just beautiful countryside and wildlife…

As a community essentially separated from the outside world it should come as no surprise that there is an entire culture and art community completely endemic to the island.

Many people tell us how striking the landscape is around Eigg and we’re inclined to agree with them. Indeed, the scenery is so splendid around our islands that we often have dozens of artists at a time coming to visit us here desperate to capture the wild nature of our island either on film, paper or in the form of music. Many have tried, but it’s up to you to seek out their work and decide if they’ve succeeded or not. Eigg has been presented as charcoal sketches, photograph exhibitions and ice sculptures – this series of works only helps to contribute to the artistic allure that the island has for visitors.

For those seeking a refuge from the distractions of the modern world and a chance to truly connect with nature, Sweeney’s Bothy is the place to stay on Eigg.

This single room space offers artists the opportunity to get truly ‘off-grid’ and discover what they’re truly capable off. Perched on a piece of croft land with a commanding view towards the neighbouring isle of Rum, this hut was designed by artist Alec Finlay in conjunction with Creative Scotland’s Year of Natural Scotland in 2013. All artists and creatives that stay in the bothy are encouraged to share their experience on the website after their trip is completed, their thoughts as well as the work that they have produced during their stay has contributed to an ongoing exhibit of the creative scene in Scotland.

A handful of artists also live on the island including a number of musicians, crafters and producers. Check out their work through the sites below:

Damian Helliwell

Nowhere is folk music more loved and cherished than in Scotland, so it should come as no surprise that a number of folk musicians have called Eigg their home over the years.

Over the course of a year Damian Helliwell and a talented group of musicians put together a folk music record that became critically acclaimed upon release. Metta served as Damian’s compositional debut and served to place Scottish music firmly in the realms of World music.

Website: www.metta-music.com

Gabe McVarish

Although he might sound Scottish by name, Gabe is a born and raised American hailing from Northern California. The talented fiddle player was two-time winner of the US Junior National Scottish Fiddle Championship before reaching the age of 17, his natural born talent for his instrument soon sent him to his ancestral homeland in Scotland. After studying music in the Highlands and spending years busking around the world, Gabe settled in nearby Lochaber to record, write, perform and teach.

Website: www.gabemcvarish.com

Catherine Davies and Pascal Carr

With the aid of Pascal Carr, Catherine Davies has been making baskets and weaving willow on the Isle of Eigg for nearly 20 years. After spending a weekend learning how to weave baskets in 1999, Catherine became enamoured with willow-work. Soon she’d obtained an award from the Millenium Forest for Scotland to promote the use of willow. In 2000 she moved to the Isle of Eigg to plant willow and build a workshop where she could continue her work in peace.

Website: www.all-about-willow.co.uk

Pictish Trail & Lost Map Records

Pictish Trail is the recording name for Johnny Lynch, an auteur music artist with a style that is completely his own. After running Fence Records in Fife for a decade he upped sticks and moved to Eigg where he launched his own record label and started recording more of his own music. In 2014 he celebrated living on Eigg by holding his very own music festival there, celebrating the artists on his label and the joy of island life.

Website: www.pictishtrail.co.uk

Eating on Eigg

Eat clean, organic, isle-produce whilst you can!

Some are surprised by how we all get by here on the Isle of Eigg, without access to a supermarket or high street stores – but we’re not completely without our luxuries…

Our island is home to a number of small businesses that supply our population here with some truly delicious produce, because of the high demand that these businesses often have to deal with they often require advance notice so that the can ensure that they can provide everything for their customers. Additionally, before you make your trip to see us it’s worth checking with these businesses personally to ensure that they’ll be open during your stay, as some of them operate within what many might consider as irregular working hours.

Although it’s a good idea to bring along any niche ingredients that you think you might not be able to find on the island (exotic fruits, spices or mass-produced foods are hard to come by), you can easily feed yourself indefinitely on the produce of the island and the limited selection that is imported in.

These independent businesses are well worth visiting whilst you’re staying with us:

Isle of Eigg Shop

The namesake for this site and often the first port of call for most visitors to the island, the Isle of Eigg Shop is one of the longest running businesses here. The small shop stocks everything that you’ll need for your stay here, as well as some extra special treats that you could buy to elevate your home-cooked meals.

Daily deliveries of fresh produce from the nearby fishing port of Mallaig can keep you stocked with fresh seafood, whilst you can also pick up quality Scottish meats courtesy of Lochalsh Butchers and lovely fresh bread from The Bakehouse.

Eigg Organics

The Isle of Eigg has long been known for its well-established environmentally friendly approach to tourism and Eigg Organic typifies this mentality. Rated by the Guardian as one of the best campsites in the UK, this westward facing farm also offers a cosy bothy and even a canvas yurt to stay in, but it’s the owners’ open attitude to their organic values that makes it a good place to pick up some food at.

Whilst you’re visiting you can take part in an organic gardening course: learn how to create your own organic Eden back home and understand how to grow your meals from the seed to your plate. Lessons include sessions focusing on cooking, preserving and include a lunch prepared from the garden there. Once you’re done you can buy as many veggies and eggs that you like for your own Eigg-based meal.

Laegorna

The only restaurant on the island is only open to non-residents during the summer and is a truly one of a kind dining experience for any visitors looking to get wined and dined for a special night out on the island. Wide-open windows give diners a huge view over the neighbouring Isle of Rum and it’s also in walking distance from Laig Bay and the Singing Sands, making it a perfect stop-off for a lazy walking tour.

The style of dining changes each night, so it’s worth checking their website before you make a booking with them. One night you may be in for a £30 per head 3-course meal, the next you could be sharing a table with a group of locals – that’s part of the joy of this independent restaurant that, best of all, champions local island produce over everything else.