Iona is a special place. It has been described as a thin place. A place where some people feel an otherness. Being on an island allows you to think and realise ideas away from other distractions. Scottish artist Janet Melrose often spends time on Iona and invites you to join her for a week of creating on this art retreat in the place that has inspired artists and travelers from all over the world for centuries.
We will walk and draw as a way of orientating and becoming familiar with the island. Iona being such a small island, we will walk around it clockwise and anti-clockwise and you’ll be amazed how different that looks and feels. Sketchbooks are a good way of recording information and collecting ideas which can inform other work. As part of the week we get to make our own concertina sketchbooks and drawing implements.
We will use a variety of drawing and painting media, and techniques that enable us to work more intuitively and access areas of the brain involved with creativity. Using our own individual approach, ideas will be realised in different ways and Janet will teach techniques according to what feels most inspiring to each guest.
Weather allowing, we will spend a lot of our creative time outdoors, but there will also be an indoor space we will use as a studio for developing our work further. Art materials will be provided and are included in the price.
Again weather allowing, we will take a boat trip aboard a traditional wooden ex-working sailing fishing boat on one of the days to explore other nearby islands. The boat’s owner Mark calls the Birthe Marie “an unashamedly old fashioned boat with a gaff ketch rig and a solidity that is reassuring”. He says “the whole concept of our trips is of an unhurried drinking in of the landscape. The boat fits into the coastal scene, disturbing little, quietly finding her way into places hidden from life ashore.” An adventure not to be missed on our art experience.
You will also have plenty of time to explore the landscape and learn about the local community and their vibrant creative lives on visits to local studios.
This short video clip from our recce visit will give you a sense of the magical and inspiring Isle of Iona:
Janet Melrose is a professional artist and inspiring tutor living and working in Highland Perthshire. She has always been interested in nature and how our lives are affected by it. You can read more about her and see examples of her work on her profile page.
Iona is a tiny island off the southwest coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. It is only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, with a population of around 120 permanent residents. Iona has a long and illustrious history and is well known as ‘The cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. It is also seen as one of the most iconic and sacred places in the world, where the beauty and diversity of the land and seascapes – even the quality of the light – have been sources of inspiration for generations of travellers, artists and spiritual seekers.
Our accommodation for the week will be the St Columba Hotel. Originally built as a manse, the hotel stands next to the world famous Iona Abbey and ancient Reilig Òdhrain (St Oran’s Graveyard). St Columba Hotel is owned by a group of locals, former islanders and individuals with a close connection to Iona, so you can be sure of the warmest welcome. Enjoy the unfolding views and otherworldly sunrises from the lounge, relax beside a roaring fire, or take off for a walk through the unspoilt landscape.
To get to Iona, you need to take the ferry from Oban to Craignure in Mull, from where we will collect you and to where we will take you back after the art experience. We will advise you which ferry crossings to take for the group pick up and drop off.
The easiest way to get to Oban by public transport is by train from Glasgow Queen Street station. The journey takes around 3 hours. The train journey from Edinburgh is also via Glasgow Queen Street and takes just over 4 hours in total. We’ll be happy to help you find the best travel connections!
The art experience includes:
– 7 nights en-suite accommodation at St Columba Hotel
– 5 full days art tuition by Janet Melrose
– Welcome drinks and nibbles on arrival
– 7 breakfasts
– 7 evening meals
– Pick up from/ drop off at ferry terminal in Craignure, Mull
– All creative materials
– Studio hire fees
– Wild at Art canvas bag
– Detailed pre-travel information by email
– Support from Wild at Art throughout.
The cost of this trip is £2380 per person (plus £300 to have a room to yourself).
A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required at the time of booking, the rest is due 8 weeks before the start date. With the detailed pre-travel info we will also send you list of recommended things to bring, such as suitable outdoor clothing.
Flights to/from Scotland and travel to/from the meeting location at Craignure ferry port on Mull are not included. Personal travel insurance is required.