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The Arran Arts Heritage Trail launched last Thursday with a fascinating online symposium.
The symposium was chaired by broadcaster and writer Kirsty Walk who told those attending: ‘I am delighted to welcome you to the Arran Arts Heritage Trail. The trail explores Arran’s landscapes through the eyes of some of Scotland’s most iconic artists and, as a lover of art with a lifelong connection to Arran, it is a real pleasure to introduce you to this heritage trail.’
The schedule provided a rare treat, with contributions from the National Galleries of Scotland, the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, the University of Glasgow, Glasgow School of Art, the Alasdair Gray Archive and the irrepressible Richard Demarco in conversation with BBC arts correspondent Pauline McLean.
Ruth Impey, project manager, said: ‘The line up for the symposium was incredible and it was wonderful to have such amazing contributors discussing artists who have been inspired by Arran’s landscapes. We couldn’t think of a more inspirational way to mark the launch of the Arran Arts Heritage Trail and celebrate Arran’s longstanding and rich artistic heritage.
‘We wanted to ensure that in spite of lockdown restrictions the trail received the attention it deserved and the symposium allowed us to invite the local and wider community to enjoy and learn about this new trail in a Covid-19 safe way. Indeed participants logged in from across the UK, France and Norway.’
The Arran Arts Heritage Trail represents a varied array of artists who have been inspired by the landscapes of Arran dating back over 200 years. In collaboration with members of the community, through a heritage research group, 20 locations with featured artists have been identified to establish this island-wide trail, which aims to celebrate this rich cultural heritage for current and future generations.
Hand carved placemarkers, made of reclaimed red Arran sandstone, mark the physical trail across the island and the trail can also be explored virtually through the newly launched website www.arranartsheritagetrail.com. By clicking on trail map locations, playing short films, listening to revived Arran dialect Gaelic location names and discovering further artworks and artists held in an extensive database, the website allows you to immerse yourself in the landscapes, even if from afar.
Ahead of the launch, images of some of the artists’ work was projected on to Brodick Castle on the night of the children’s art competition covered last month in the Banner.
Arran Trust chairman Kenneth Bone said: ‘The Arran Trust was delighted to be involved in supporting the Arran Arts Heritage Trail. This is an informative cultural experience to be enjoyed by residents and visitors. We will all be surprised at the influence Arran has had over so many famous artists.’
The symposium began with a session dedicated to Joan Eardley, which also launched the Eardley100 celebrations, to mark her centenary year. ‘Galleries across the UK will be marking Eardley’s life and work in the coming months and it was a real honour to kick off the celebrations through the symposium,’ said Ruth.
Kirsty Wark chaired a discussion on Eardley’s formative years on Arran which included Anne Morrison Hudson, Eardley’s niece, and journalist Jan Patience, both founders of Eardley100, who are co-ordinating celebrations. A short film especially commissioned by the trail and directed by Simon Sloan, the trail’s appointed young filmmaker, also received its public debut as part of the Eardley discussion.
The film ‘Tabernacle’, narrated by Kirsty Wark, focuses on the cottage come studio in Corrie where Eardley and her lifelong friend Margot Sandeman spent summers painting whilst students at Glasgow School of Art. Eardley and Sandeman share a placemaker on the trail, near the shore in Corrie, to mark their time spent painting there.
Further highlights of the symposium included a talk on fairies and Hannah Frank, Jessie M King’s bringing Paris to Arran, a rare glimpse into the sketchbooks of Duncan Shanks and Charles Rennie Mackintosh and a whistle stop tour of some of the 72 Arran works held in the National Galleries of Scotland.
Tim Keyworth, the National Trust for Scotland’s manager at Brodick Castle, gardens and country park, said: ‘We’re really looking forward to the launch of the island-wide trail and are thrilled to have a place marker for the trail in the castle grounds. We’re sure the trail will introduce more people to the beauty of Arran’s landscapes and the inspiration they’ve provided to so many artists over the years.’
For those who missed it or want to hear more about the incredible influence of Arran on so many iconic artists, all of the presentations were recorded and will be available to view on the Arran Arts Heritage Trail website in the coming week.
Sidebar: Missing placemarker stone
The Catacol placemarker for the Arran Arts Heritage Trail has gone missing. The placemarker was left in the Glen Catacol car park ready for installation. However, last Wednesday, April 28, the marker was missing when Scott Murdoch went to install it.
Despite an extensive search, it has not been found. The marker, made of red Arran sandstone, has the number 11 and Wingate carved into it referencing the work of Sir James Wingate, his wife Katherine and their daughter Helen who all painted on the west coast of Arran. Any information would be gratefully received. Please contact Ruth Impey firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Eardley’s Arran to the Shore is shown on Brodick Castle. NO_B19art01
Kirsty Wark chairing the symposium. NO_B19art02
An image of the original Arran to the Shore painting. NO_B19art03
The missing Wingate marker was last seen in Catacol. NO_B19marker01