Artist and botanist map seven habitats to create stunning ceramics and promote environmental tourism on Raasay.
Exquisite ceramic artworks inspired by the plant life of a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland are being installed in a historic country house run by the community on Raasay.
Commissioned by ATLAS Arts, Edinburgh-based artist Frances Priest has worked in close collaboration with Raasay-based botanist Stephen Bungard to create Patterns of Flora | Mapping Seven Raasay Habitats. The project celebrates the abundant flora and habitats that are special to the island, promoting environmental tourism and supporting community efforts to build a sustainable economy.
Frances' handcrafted ceramic finger plates, window ledge inserts and door handles are a gift to Raasay House, the 18th century former home of the chiefs of the MacLeods of Raasay, which has recently been restored by the community after a devastating fire in 2009.
To accompany the ceramics Frances and Stephen (an expert in his field who has studied the island's botany for around 30 years) have developed an illustrated map of botanical walks. These will guide visitors through seven distinct plant habitats across the island: bog, costal, fresh water, limestone, moor, mountain and woodland.
Emma Nicolson, Director of ATLAS Arts, said: “It’s really rewarding for us to be able to support the island and its community and to celebrate its fantastic natural environment. Raasay House has risen from the ashes and the people of the island are striving to create a sustainable future.
“This is a way in which the arts can help – by contributing to the house, encouraging tourism and highlighting what the island has to offer.
“Frances Priest's work demonstrates not only great skill but depth of understanding and sensitivity to the context, and combined with Stephen’s knowledge of local plant life which is unparalleled, we hope their work will attract more visitors and inspire people to explore the island’s fabulous natural environment.”
As well as the walks and ceramics there will be 150 limited edition handmade vases by Frances. Each is decorated with one of the artist's seven designs showing plants and flowers from one of the habitats she mapped. There will also be a limited edition of 300 colouring books featuring plant illustrations by Frances. Proceeds from the sales will be ploughed back into other ATLAS projects.
A launch weekend will take place at Raasay House, which is run as an outdoor centre and four-star hotel, from 5 to 7 June 2015. Activities will include a talk by acclaimed naturalist and wildlife writer, Sir John Lister-Kaye, and walks with Stephen Bungard.
Photography: Ruth Clark