Some unusual visitors to the island have migrated from another North Atlantic island, The Azores, to make Lewis their home until early May.Ness based artist, Sofi-Ona Hamer, has been busy 'swarming' a variety of locations and metallic objects with beautiful magnetic cyanotype butterflies, as part of global art installation project, 'Swarm the World Migration'.
“I initially saw the idea posted on Facebook and was lucky enough to be selected as one of the collaborators due to my location and enthusiasm for the collaborative project,” said Sofi-Ona.
“I am really enjoying finding locations that reflect the unique heritage and culture of the Outer Hebrides. It's quite amazing how the butterflies transform whatever they touch and add so much vitality to the often rusty metal they briefly adorn.”
The Swarm the World Migration project is the brainchild of 23-year-old New York City based artist, Tasha Lewis. Each of the 4,000 butterflies migrating across the globe have been hand-made, including a strong magnet sewn on the back of each butterfly.
From October 2014, ten packages of 400 magnetic cyanotype butterflies have been travelling the world to over 200 collaborators, each of whom have installed or will be installing the butterflies around their own locations, documenting their installations with photos, journal entries and via social media.
And although she knows that her butterflies came from The Azores, Sofi-Ona has yet no idea where in the world they are to be sent to next.
“Taking part in the swarm has been a real eye opener on many levels,” she said. “Migration is a natural process, and highlights the ongoing plight and crisis of refugees from war torn countries; some of the photos illustrate this symbolically with no entry signs.
“It is amazing how they transform each place they swarm and add such a lightness, vitality and magic. If 'swarming' outside, the breeze rustles their wings and makes them look quite lifelike. Luckily the magnets sewn on the back of each butterfly are quite strong, although I've had to chase a few that have caught the wind and taken flight!” Sofi-Ona continued.
So far, the Lewis swarm of butterflies briefly transformed St Moluag's chapel in Eoropie; The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse; a rusty hull of a shipwreck on Swainbost beach; the Lewis Chess King piece at the entrance to the Woodlands Cafe in Stornoway, and even a single width Hattersley loom that belongs to the independent weaver, Norman Mackenzie in Carloway, to name but a few.
“Most of the time the reception has been really positive,” the artist said of her swarming installations. “People tend to be quite inquisitive and mesmerised by the etherealness of butterflies.
“To Native Americans, the butterfly is a symbol of change, joy and colour. The exquisite butterfly was considered a miracle of transformation and resurrection.
“It was quite poignant to actually swarm St Moluag's chapel after the first service of the season in celebration of the resurrection and to meet a random locum doctor who appeared while I was photographing the installation.”
You can follow the Lewis butterfly swarms on Sofi-Ona's Facebook page 'QuirkiNess Designs – Outer Hebrides' ; and the 'SwarmTheWorld' community page, for more about the project visit.
(This item has been reposted on to the website following an inadvertent loss of data)