Inspiration

Inspired in Islay

I recently visited the Scottish island of Islay and was blown away by its beauty. Here I write about how it's already inspired my mosaic art and share some pictures from my trip.

Islay is the second Scottish island I’ve visited – Seil was the first a couple of years ago, which is accessible from the Scottish mainland by bridge, so this felt like my first ‘proper’ island visit as we had to reach Islay by ferry!

We stayed in Port Ellen, which provides easy access to beautiful beaches, a wildlife reserve (the Oa), historic sites, and three of (arguably) the world’s best whisky distilleries. We had our bicycles with us and enjoyed cycling the Three Distilleries Path – and a wee nip of whisky at each one on our way of course! I’m not a whisky drinker, but I finally understood what all the fuss is about – and where better to have done that than on Islay?

We stayed near to Kilnaughton Beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand and the sea looked turquoise in the warm sunshine. It has a little chapel ruin on it, and the brickwork reminded me of how so many things in life are made like a mosaic. I love exploring rocks on the beach and think they look particularly beautiful when they’re covered in flowers, moss or seaweed. As I was touching one of the rocks, I noticed a slice of the rock was loose, so I took that as a sign! I took it with me to create a mosaic from it when I get home. You can see the result below – a little piece inspired by the landscape I saw.

One day we had a wonderful wildlife boat trip run by Islay Sea Adventures . The boat owner and guide were really friendly and informative. We saw lots of seals, and baby seals, wild goats and deer on small islands in the sea. We wondered how the deer got to the islands – they swim from the mainland when they hear gunshots of hunters nearby. Clever deer. I had no idea they could swim so far. It was great to see the island from the boat too.

We also visited Kildalton Cross, which dates from the 8th century, so it’s very special. You can see it in the first two pictures below. There were lots of Celtic carvings on the gravestones around the remains of the Old Parish Church, where the Kildalton Cross is located, too. I was inspired by the ancient craftsmanship that I saw and I also love reading gravestones and getting a feel for people’s lives. When I got home, I made some mosaics of Celtic knots inspired by the ones I saw there. They’re for sale in my website shop.

Here are some more pictures from our trip. We saw a large standing stone on the outskirts of Port Ellen (shown in the first two pictures below). The Kilnaughton Lighthouse is pictured in the fifth image with Port Ellen in the background.

My favourite beach was undoubtably Singing Sands near Port Ellen (pictured below). It was a little bit of paradise. And we got so lucky with the weather. I highly recommend a trip to Islay and I can’t wait to return!

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