An electric atmosphere filled an Lanntair arts centre as the 30th Grinneas nan Eilean open exhibition got under way on Saturday evening, the blazing lights and artistic good cheer defying the constant rain outside.
Members of an Lanntair’s “family”, past and present, gathered from all over the world to commemorate three decades since the first show in the Town Hall in 1985, including Sam Maynard, the award-winning photographer whose 1990s vision for internet development in Stornoway proved to be decades ahead of its time.
The room was filled with artists – including Willie Fulton and his wife Moira, who have participated in the show since its inception – and with many of those involved in the stewardship of the arts project since the first gleams of light glistened from a Youth Opportunity Programme back in the 1980s.
Long before the official start at 7.30, the gallery was thronged with people looking at the 350+ works on display from more than 110 artists.
The official part of the evening began with a brief welcome from Elly Fletcher, now the chief executive of the arts centre; followed by a speech from Lindsay Gordon, Director at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen and formerly head of visual arts at the former Scottish Arts Council at the time when an Lanntair was first mooted.
Then the vice chair of an Lanntair’s board Lynne Maciver talked of the current Board’s perspective and ambitions for the future, and this was followed by former Board member Brian Wilson, chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides announcing the exhibition prizes sponsored by HTH, and reminding the audience to look back not only to the foundation of the gallery in 1985 but the long struggle of the then staff and board members to create the new building opened in 2005.
Finally Malcolm Maclean, one of the original founders who is also now on the Board again, gave a personal recollection of the original opening event for Grinneas nan Eilean, featuring the great Bayble-born writer Iain Crichton Smith.