John Busby Oaks, deer and bluebells, Ariundle  © The Estate of John Busby
John Busby Oaks, deer and bluebells, Ariundle © The Estate of John Busby

Aig an Oir – At the Edge, 2004 to 2005

In 2004 the SWLA embarked on it’s most ambitious project yet. Aig an Oir, meaning at the edge’ in Gaelic, aimed to create a unique portrait of Scotland’s Atlantic oakwoods – revealing the importance of these internationally significant habitats for wildlife and plants, highlighting their conservation and cultural value, as well as explaining their history. The project was a partnership between Forest Enterprise Scotland, an executive agency of the Forestry Commission Scotland with a remit to manage the state-owned forest resource for public benefit; HI-Arts, (Highlands and Islands Arts Ltd), a charity established in 1990 to promote and develop the arts in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA).

Beginning in April 2004 and concluding in July 2005, the project took place in and around West Argyll (Taynish and Knapdale Woods), Ardnamurchan (Loch Sunart and Morvern oakwoods), and Skye (Kinloch and Kyleakin oakwoods).

Three residencies by groups of 8 wildlife artists for up to 10 days – comprising SWLA members, associate members, artists selected from each of the local communities, and international wildlife artists – took place in May and October 2004. There were further floating’ groups of artists working in the areas throughout the winter. The artists were put up in local accommodation close to the woods and the local community. They had facilities for group working and discussion, which enabled a creative and lively atmosphere to develop and a cohesive body of work to be initiated.

Following local exhibitions, the project came to a head with a major exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. A book about the project has been produced and is available for purchase by visiting www​.pem​ber​ley​books​.com.