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Lochmaddy, on the east side of North Uist, is the centre for the island’s annual sheep sales. People come from all sides to sell their lambs. It’s a reminder that this is a crofting community, in which working on the land is still an important part of the way of life.
For an island community, the sea is equally important. The main ferry service connecting North Uist to the mainland of Scotland comes into Lochmaddy, which shows again the importance of this township in the island.
But visitors may notice more than the sheep sales as the ferry comes into port. Pieces of work on the shoreline itself and close to the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Art Centre show that the community has an interest in the arts as well.
Taigh Chearsabhagh is run as a partnership between the Uist Arts Association and the North Uist Local History Society, and it brings together in one building local cultural and historical interests with creative arts.
At the centre of the building is the café, famous for its homebaking and open all year round. Next to the café is the shop where you can buy books of local and Gaelic interest, as well as toys and gifts.
Next to the shop is the museum, run by the historical society. Exhibitions change regularly. The current one features traditional crafts such as spinning and weaving. The historical society is also responsible for the remarkable collection of photographs, donated by the local community.
Staff in Taigh Chearsabhagh share a busy office. Here exhibitions are organised, school visits are planned, and training courses are developed.
There are also two galleries for exhibiting artwork. In Gallery Two students in the first year of the BA are preparing for their end of year show. The pictures are finally put up with little time to spare before the first guests arrive.
It’s also a big night for diploma students, who exhibit their work in the studio.
There’s a good crowd to see all the different exhibitions. They are welcomed by Icelandic artist Valgerdur Hauksdottir. She has an exhibition of her own work in Gallery One.
From showing the work of international artists, to developing the talents of all ages in the community, to recording and preserving aspects of local life, Taigh Chearsabhagh is involved in a wide range of cultural activity. That it does it so effectively reflects well on the lively people who make it work, and the healthy community in which they live.
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