Today’s painting – the misty and dramatic aspect of cliffs behind Cleadale, a small settlement on the West Coast of Eigg near Laig Bay and the Singing Sands. Painted in acrylic with pallete knife.
Crofters have lived here for generations, and later in this series I’ll include some archival photos of Eigg’s past inhabitants and their way of life.
Today though, as we’re in Cleadale, I’d like to introduce you to one of Cleadale’s present-day inhabitants; Lucy Conway, the visionary founder of ‘Eigg Box’.
I first heard about Eigg Box two years ago while chatting with a friend about my love of the West Coast islands, my friend asked if I’d heard of Eigg Box, and after quick online search I discovered the website – http://www.eiggbox.com/ and signed up to the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/EiggBox
I was entranced by daily posts of Eigg’s beautiful landscape (which previously I’d only seen from the mainland shore of Arisaig) and intrigued with the many arts projects taking place. Then, a year later, Lucy invited artists in Edinburgh to join in on a discussion of the future of an art centre to be built on Eigg and I was of course glad of the opportunity to become involved
We all met at Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue arts complex where we pored over architect’s plans for the Eigg Box art centre, and shared ideas about what makes a space ideal for artists – communal space to share ideas, quiet space to think and create, how to make the best use of light and how to deal with waste from art materials
Not long after this I contacted Lucy to ask about staying on Eigg, then met up again when I arrived on the island. Lucy invited us to their wonderful house at the foot of the cliffs at Cleadale (designed and built by Lucy and Eddie over three years) where we received a glass of wine and a warm welcome while Lucy brought us up to date with plans for Eigg Box.
There’s a lot happening and it’s very inspiring; for the last 18 months Eigg Box has been providing a programme of training and mentoring opportunities for local creative businesses to develop their business and creative skills in parallel with a series of community focused events and workshops.
Eigg Box has also provided opportunities for visiting artists and arts organisations such as as Bodysurf (dance), DevFort (digital) and The Bothy Project (individual artist residencies) to come to the island to work. (I’ll be featuring more about the Bothy project on Eigg later in the series and my first acquaintance beneath the twilit cliffs with Sweeney himself!)
Practical on-the-ground projects such as these, along with on and off island consultation and pragmatic research, have provided a wealth of information and helped build a strong case for an Eigg Box building.
Eigg Box will be a new eco-build with workshop, studio and workspace for island creative businesses and visiting artists to share. For island artists, sharing the space with visitors brings new perspectives, skills and opportunities to collaborate, while visiting artists benefit from the knowledge and expertise the island artists have of Eigg.
Time spent as a visiting artist-in-residence can motivate, transform and inspire creative practice and bring new skills and perspective to the local community. Both offer Eigg a new way to share what it has with the rest of the world.
Powered by renewable energy, featuring the best in low carbon design and with mindful day-to-day resource management practice at its core, Eigg Box will be a focus for how environmental sustainability can be at the heart of the creative industries and business practice.
Myself and many other artists look forward to seeing the Eigg Box art centre project come to full fruition as an art centre and arts residency space. It’s exactly what’s needed for the island and for the many artists who live there or visit.
You can also contribute too, with your thoughts and ideas on what Eigg Box could mean to you. Sign up for a newsletter, or get in touch with Lucy to let her know what you think or ask questions HERE.