On a beautiful May morning we find ourselves seated round the kitchen table of Sunbeam Cottage enjoying a welcome coffee and delicious scones with hosts Colin and Susan Woodcock. From their window we look out across the single track road to their gallery and just beyond is the sea sparkling under a clear blue sky.
Too frequently Scotland, especially the Highlands and Islands, is defined by the landscape rather than the people. Likewise people are too often identified by their work rather than who they are. Tiree is so much more than shell sand beaches and wide skies that dance together in aqua blue seas. Colin and Susan are artists, but that’s not all. You must meet them for yourself.
Their gallery, ‘Blue Beyond’ is well named and situated, being almost on the seashore at Balemartine on the South West end of the Island. We first discovered the gallery when we had a week’s holiday on Tiree in August 2012. To our great surprise, our son Andrew presented us with one of their paintings, which now hangs in our living room at our home in Scarinish.
We are no artists, far less art critics, but for us their work captures the essence of the island’s landscape. They write, “We produce paintings, textiles, raku pottery, cards and fine art prints inspired by the Hebrides.” Susan uses a range of natural and man-made materials to construct her textiles. Her work, which is usually framed, interprets the Tiree seas and skies. Colin’s current paintings are all completed in acrylics, watercolour or oils. The paintings focus on the interplay of land, sea and sky, and are abstracted from the natural landscapes of Tiree. Colin also works with Raku pottery.
Colin and Susan have been producing work as artists on Tiree since 2001 and their studio gallery opened in 2003. Their work is available exclusively from their island gallery, April to October, and from their website during the winter.
The island of Tiree is famous for its shell sand beaches and wide skies free from air pollution. This all goes towards making the colours so vibrant. The rocks and the machair add to the mix. Unlike so many houses in Scotland that are a drab grey, Tiree’s houses are attractive and colourful, whether they be the traditional or spotty houses, or the various shades of corrugated iron.
Blue Beyond’s slogan,‘fine art and fine design inspired by the Hebrides’ is beyond doubt most apt. Resident or visitor to Tiree, a visit to their gallery is a must.
Colin’s parting words are that we must in time highlight the other galleries on the island as they recommend one another to visitors. And we must keep true to our promise.
Blue Beyond Gallery – Colin and Susan Woodcock and the Gallery
Opening Times: 1pm-5pm, Wednesday to Friday
Studio Gallery, Balemartine
Isle of Tiree