The Galson Estate Trust (Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn) is launching a new public art project in collaboration with Scottish artist Virginia Hutchison.
The Artists and Community Landowners’ project is led by Community Land Scotland and The Stove Network and will be accessible in locations throughout the Galson Estate in north Lewis.
The project aims to raise awareness of community land ownership and focuses on the narratives surrounding the community land buyout of the Galson Estate in 2007.
Ms Hutchison said: “Countering a fractious history of private landownership in Scotland, community landowners like Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn have embarked on a strategic programme of development that involves the whole community in the processes of decision making.
“It’s been an empowering experience working alongside the Trust to find creative methods of recounting the collective experiences of the buyout and the events that led up to it.
“How this narrative is developed alongside The Stove Network and Community Land Scotland will be invaluable to the development of the Urras and to other communities who are about to embark on the process.”
Telling a story through art
Ms Hutchison was announced as the artist in residence in August 2020 and and has been producing artworks in conversation with fellow artists Stephen Hurrel and Fiona Rennie.
She has created six bronze cast artefacts moulded from cut peat for the project. Each has been embedded with a digital QR code which links to recordings and interviews about community land ownership both from the archive and newly recorded.
The project artworks will go on tour around the Isle of Lewis before heading to the mainland at the end of the year. The artworks will then become a permanent fixture at the Galson Estate which can be added to by the local community.
Katherine Wheeler, partnerships and projects development manager at The Stove Manager, said: “The work that Virginia has made with the Galson Estate is an example of one of those rarer times when two different languages can come together to tell the stories of a place in new and deeply moving ways.”
An ‘opportunity to reflect’
Lisa Maclean, chief executive of Galson Estate Trust, said: “The whole process has been so positive and thought-provoking. We are delighted to make this new connection with not only Virginia, but so too with The Stove Network.
“It’s a very different way of working, and one I feel has supported us all to consider what makes community landownership so special.
“It’s been almost cathartic and the artwork itself certainly provides the opportunity to reflect and take stock of the landownership journey of the Estate.”
Other land trusts are also getting involved in the project which Linsay Chalmers from Community Land Scotland hopes to now share with a wider audience.
She said: “As part of our tenth anniversary celebrations, Community Land Scotland supported a number of projects where artists worked with community landowners to help tell their story.
“We are delighted that, through Virginia Hutchison’s work, people will be able to walk around the Estate and get an insight into what owning the land means to the community.”
The Galson Estate Trust will host a walk and talk event so members of the public can visit these artworks on Saturday June 26.