Iona Art Experience Sept/Oct 2024

Fabric of an Island ~ Drawing, painting & walking on the Isle of Iona

Dates: 28 Sept – 5 Oct 2024 – fully booked*
Tutor: Janet Melrose
Location: Isle of Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
Activity: Drawing, painting (mixed media), walking
Cost: From £2890 per person

*This trip is now fully booked, but we’re starting a waiting list as sometimes cancellations do happen 🙂

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. 

Check out the photos from the May 2022 and 2023 trips here.

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What to expect

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.

Walk and draw concertina sketchbook

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’s also 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 to the nearby uninhabited island of Staffa. Its many caves and iconic, column-like rock formations have inspired artists, poets and musicians for many years.

You will also have plenty of time to explore the landscape on Iona and learn about the local community and their vibrant creative lives on visits to local studios.

It was such an amazing week on Iona. I thoroughly enjoyed the anticipation of getting there, the first glimpse of the abbey from the ferry, the peace and quiet of the island, and the palpable feeling of the history of the place. The art experience, under Janet’s very capable leadership, was thought-provoking, inspiring, and freeing. And, of course, the like-minded “tribe” of participants wrapped up the whole week in a great big bow. Taking the leap to attend was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you for all your thoughtful hard work in putting it together. {Pat, New Hampshire, Iona Art Experience, May 2023}

This short video clip from our recce visit back in May 2021 will give you a sense of the magical and inspiring Isle of Iona:

Our tutor – Janet Melrose

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.

The location – Magical Iona & the St Columba Hotel

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 on 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!

Price & inclusions

The art experience includes:
– 7 nights en-suite accommodation at St Columba Hotel
– 5 days art tuition by Janet Melrose & review session on the last day
– Bookmaking session with local bookbinder Toben Lewis
– Welcome drinks on arrival
– 7 breakfasts
– 7 evening meals
– Transfers between ferry terminals at Craignure and Fionnphort, Isle of Mull
– Boat trip to Staffa on the last full day (weather allowing)
– All creative materials
– Studio hire fees
– Wild at Art canvas bag
– Detailed pre-travel information by email
– Support from Wild at Art throughout.

Price: £2890 per person if sharing a room, 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 10 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, nor is the Iona ferry crossing (costs around £3.70 return). Personal travel insurance is required.

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“Iona was my second holiday with Wild at Art Scotland, and I am already thinking about a third next year.

If you want a painting holiday where someone tells you what to paint and how, don’t go on this trip. If you on the other hand are after inspiration and relaxation, to spend a creative week in a beautiful spot, walk and immerse in the landscape, have an inspiring tutor who will help you to find new ideas and think out of the box, then this is perfect!

Also very well organized and plenty of delicious food.”

{Ulla, Sweden, Iona Art Experience May 2022}

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