North Uist campus
Based on the island of North Uist, our campus provides an opportunity to study Fine Art in the distinctive environment of the Outer Hebrides, on the west coast of Scotland.
Renowned for their beauty, unique habitats, unusual geomorphology and spectacular coastlines, these islands comprise a rich and diverse natural environment. Home to a wide range of native flora and fauna, they also play host to a large variety of migrating birds throughout the year.
Human occupation of the islands dates back thousands of years and archaeological evidence of this is apparent throughout. The traditional island lifestyle of Crofting flourishes, (small hold farming), as does the Gaelic language and culture of traditional music, making this a unique and stimulating place in which to study.
Michelle Letowska / Anne MacKenzie / Rosie Blake
Lews Castle College
Isle of North Uist
Tel: +44 (0)1876 500 871
NC Art and Design
What is special about this course?
The National Certificate in Art & Design is a one-year Further Education course based in North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Portfolio preparation is embedded into the course for those students interested in progressing into Art College.
The course attracts a diverse group of learners from the islands and further afield, younger students moving on from school and adults returning to education. With small group sizes and the input of a number of specialised tutors, the learning experience is full of new challenges and creative opportunities.
A particular feature of the course is its location in Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre. With a changing exhibition programme, and stunning waterfront studios, Taigh Chearsabhagh is a vibrant hub of creative and cultural activity. The islands as a whole offer much stimulus with exceptional environment, natural history, landscape and rich cultural heritage. Gaelic language class are also available to students.
Applicants should aim to have 3 National 5 passes or equivalent, preferably including Art and English. Applicants will be asked to show examples of their work at interview where possible. Applications are welcome from mature students who may not have the suggested academic requirements.
(Applicants to the course should note that for entry to a degree programme at any of Scotland’s Art Colleges typically 3 or 4 Higher awards are required)
The NC programme comprises nationally recognised Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Units. In addition, portfolio preparation is embedded into the course structure. Drawing forms an important part of the course and includes units in Figure Drawing, and Analytical Drawing as well as introducing a wide range of fine art and design based units such as:
- Printmaking (including Etching)
- Photography (Digital, experimental techniques and analogue)
- Graphic Design
The NC Art and Design programme aims to provide students with a broad range of experience in the visual arts; introducing a diverse range of skills, building on knowledge and understanding and encouraging critical awareness. A number of visiting artists are invited to deliver specialist workshops.
How will I study my course?
- Full Time
- Part Time
The course is offered full-time over three days a week (Monday - Wednesday, 9am-4.30pm)
Part time: In discussion with the Course Leader, applicants can select a number of units to study. Units are normally delivered in 2 week blocks.
Where can I study my course?
- North Uist Campus -Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Art Centre
How long will my course last?
1 Year from September to June
For further information contact:
Anne Mackenzie (NC Course Leader)
Tel: 01876 500871
Fine Art BA (Hons)
Study fine art at our North Uist campus on the BA (Hons) in Fine Art, in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands. Direct applications outwith UCAS are encouraged as are applications from those wishing to undertake short modules to engage their work more deeply with the landscape. The course attracts a wide range of part time and full students who benefit from excellent staff student ratios and a flexible, supportive learning environment.
Consideration and response to ‘Place’ underpins our students learning experience, their primary resource - the island environment - understood in its broadest sense. Students are encouraged to engage, interpret and respond to this notion in a wide variety of ways, investigating and exploring the abundant stimuli here and beyond whilst developing their own creative and visual identity.
Fine Art students are primarily based at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Art Centre in Lochmaddy, North Uist. The venue provides a stimulating creative environment where students benefit from a rich programme of exhibitions, artists talks and residencies. Recent visiting artists have included Alasdair Gray, Ilana Halperin, Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Drury, and Vija Celmins.
Working in light, modern studios overlooking Lochmaddy bay, students follow a programme of study designed to enhance and build on individual creative skills, exploring a wide variety of media and approaches. The studios are wi-fi enabled, and have PC and Mac computers. Onsite there is access to Taigh Chearsabhagh’s print workshop, darkroom and multi-media facility, as well as a dedicated art library.
Year one modules include Lens based Media, Drawing, Painting, Printed Image, Spatial Studies and Critical and Contextual Studies.
Years two, three and four develop a studio practice in which students direct their learning, framed by workshops and electives across a wide range of media and subjects, developing practical and creative skills. Students receive regular one to one support, lectures, seminars, peer and group reviews. Year three offers opportunities for student exchange with other academic institutions. Year four culminates in a student degree show and a written dissertation.
A number of elements of the course are delivered at the Lews Castle College, Benbecula campus via video conferencing, in particular the Critical & Contextual Studies module. This campus also provides extensive IT facilities for research. Students have access to the wider UHI network of partner colleges and benefit from this additional academic input throughout the course through working with staff and fellow students across campuses in Shetland, Orkney and mainland Scotland.
The core teaching staff are all practicing artists, Additional teaching provision is facilitated through resident and visiting artists throughout the year; including fine art photographer Rosie Blake, filmmaker Hugh Watt, environmental photographer René Jansen, painter and printmaker Margaret McLennan, ceramic and glass artist Rosa Nguyen, sound artist James Bull and critic Mel Gooding.
All applicants are required to submit a portfolio of work demonstrating their ability to respond to with demands of the course and preparedness for study at Higher Education level. Standard requirements for admission are:
- A minimum of 3 Higher grade passes, one of which is preferably English
- Or the equivalent gained from systems of Education out with Scotland
- Or a recognised Access programme
Successful completion of the Certificate of Higher Education in Fine Art (Year 1) or equivalent programme of study and submission of a portfolio.
Years 3 and 4
Direct entry into years 3 and 4 is available. Students are also welcomed to engage in modular part time or full time study for periods from 6 weeks to 1 year and beyond.
Students from the course have gone on to exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy, as part of the New Contemporaries and the Society of Scottish Artists, amongst other shows. Graduates have gone on to complete MA and PHD level study with institutions such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chelsea and Dundee Schools of Art. Many establish themselves as working artists or undertake teaching and community arts, locally, nationally and internationally.
Applications are currently being accepted for academic year 2017-18. Apply via Lews Castle College http://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/courses/ba-hons-fine-art or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org 01876 500 871 for further information.
A number of accredited and non-accredited courses run throughout the year, from two days to twelve weeks in length. Please contact staff to discuss details.
Painting, September 2017
Dark room and Digital Photography, October 2017
Printmaking, February 2018
Studio Practice (self-initiated project) throughout the year
Drawing throughout the year
Continuing Art Practice (throughout the year) a low residency course allowing allowing participants to develop new skills and engage in visual enquiry across any courses offered by the college, ideal for practising artists, local and incoming.
Art and Archaeology Summer School (running summer 2018)
Archaeologist Dr Rebecca Rennell and fine art lecturer Dennis Magee facilitate a week-long programme of visits, lectures and visual art studio development exploring archaeological sites, methods and knowledge in relation to the culture and landscape of the Uists.
Read more about the experience of one participant:
To find out more please contact us on 01876 500 871 or at email@example.com
Anne Mackenzie is Course Leader for the National Certificate in Art and Design having begun as Lecturer on the NC and BAFA courses with Lews Castle College (UHI) in 2004. She is from North Uist, returning to the island in 1997 after studying at Grays School of Art where she specialised in drawing and painting.
A Post Graduate qualification in secondary school teaching began an early career teaching in Glasgow, before embarking on a new career path out with the formal education system as Arts and Education Officer for Taigh Chearsabhagh Trust. Here she devised and facilitated many events such as combined arts residential summer schools for young people, arts engagement projects with the third age and an international artists workshop in association with The Triangle Network. Anne has extensive experience in delivering arts education workshops and events to a wide range of ages and levels of experience both in and out of formal education. She continues to develop the FE arts provision in the Uists to offer a distinctive, stimulating and ambitious programme of study.
Site Leader for the BA Fine Art course, Michelle Letowska studied Philosophy and Politics at the University of York, Fine Art at the Sculpture and Environmental Art department of the Glasgow School of Art and Akademia Sztuk Pieknych, Krakow, Poland and Drawing Practices at Leith School of Art. She has a studio practice founded on drawing as enquiry and a spatial practice working with a range of materials to explore phenomenological and social encounters in the world.
Michelle has undertaken residencies at a number of locations including Cove Park, Argyll, Scotland, Kunstverein Hildesheim and the Mostra de Artes Visuais e Sonoras, Lisbon. Her work has shown in galleries and public spaces across Europe, including Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh and London.
Michelle has lectured, taught and given papers at a wide range of institutions including Glasgow School of Art, the Courtauld Institute, the University of Glasgow and the University of Lancaster. She has published articles on a number of subjects from drawing and artists’ writings to the ethics of socially engaged art in publications including Tracey Contemporary Drawing Research journal, AN Magazine and PAR+RS (Public Art Resource and Research Scotland).
Michelle lives and works in North Uist and Glasgow and is a working member of the Glasgow Independent Studios and the Glasgow Print Studio. During 2013 she was commissioned for the Creative Scotland By Leaves We Live residency, part of The Year of Natural Scotland 2013. In 2014 she undertook a micro-residency at the print Studio in Taigh Chearsabagh, Lochmaddy. She completed her Post Graduate Certificate in learning and teaching creative practices at the Glasgow School of Art and, as a result of her research, was invited to deliver a paper at the Q-art symposium Location and Art Education in June 2015.
Rosie Blake is a Lecturer on both the BAFA and the NC Art and Design. Rosie attended Camberwell College of Arts, London and went on to study at Glasgow School of Art, gaining a BAHons in Fine Art Photography. She began teaching just a few months after graduation, as a visiting Lecturer on the Lens Based Media module at LCC in North Uist and took up the permanent Lecturer post in November 2017.
Alongside teaching, Rosie maintains a multidisciplinary artistic practice, with work including photography, drawing, text-based work and printmaking. Her work concerns nature, language and nomenclature. She has exhibited widely across the UK, and internationally including Glasgow, London, France and South Korea.
Rosie has industry experience working in curation and studio management, with an emphasis on collaboration and development of supportive and inclusive artist spaces. She managed an artist studio complex in Glasgow for several years, developing a collaborative environment for artists and practitioners. Rosie has contributed to various publications and has work held in private collections throughout the country.
The career paths of our alumni are many and varied, as shown in the examples below. Please feel free to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss having your alumni story added here.
After completing an NC in Art & Design at Taigh Chearsabhagh I was offered a place at Edinburgh College of Art where I went on to gain a 2.1 BA (hons) in Drawing and Painting.
Studying at Taigh Chearsabhagh gave me a grounding in a variety of disciplines and a strong portfolio which was key to being offered a place at art school.
After graduating I did an internship with Edinburgh Printmakers before working as an Apprentice Visual Artist with the Fruitmarket Gallery on their education project called Air Iomlaid.
From there I worked as a freelancer, designing and delivering educational art projects to a number of galleries, museums and local authorities across Scotland. Since 2014 I have been working as a Creative Learning Officer in Creative Scotland.
I am an environmental artist, horticulturalist and researcher.
In 2011, I set up earth I environmental art Hebrides – a contemporary arts practice that undertakes range of environmental and fine art projects.
Educated at Lews Castle College UHI, Taigh Chearsabhagh campus, I took the NC Art & Design course (1999) and HNC (2001) and completed the BA Fine Art (2011).
In 2014 I completed MFA Art, Society, Publics at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee and where I am currently undertaking a practice-led PhD in Environmental Art and Socially-engaged Art Practice.
I studied on the NC Art and Design in Uist after finishing at Sgoil Lionacleit.
I then went on to Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2011 and then establishing the Rag and Bone workshop which is based in Glasgow.
My art practice includes designing and making furniture and sculpture from re-appropriated materials, organising and participating in exhibitions, facilitating educational and skill sharing workshops and undertaking artists residencies.
I am interested in demonstrating an environmentally conscious, inventive and resourceful use of materials and creating opportunities for people to re-learn hand and craft skills.
I did the NC Art and Design Course instead of 6th year at school.
After the NC I studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and did the BA(hons) Drawing and Painting 2004-2008.
Both the NC and the first year at ECA allowed me to explore various techniques and media through short courses and modules.
Looking back I am glad that I had these two years to experiment - they were great fun!
I then went on to become a florist for about 3 years. During this time I was also involved in some community education and school art projects. This then became my full time work through the Children's Parliament.
In 2014-2015 I did a PGDE in Secondary Art and Design teaching. Since my probation year I have done supply teaching and I am currently an Intergenerational Arts Practitioner for a Dementia Friendly project.
The year I spent doing the NC was my favourite year of studying. I got so much one to one tuition and a real variety of teachers from different specialisms. I learned so much - I would love to do the course again!
I had also gone to the Taigh Chearsabhagh Saturday Art classes throughout school and always enjoyed the creative atmosphere there.
After completing the NC Art and Design, I pursued my passion for computer/video game development through a Bachelor of Science degree at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Since joining the Computer Games Design course, I’ve collaborated with students on multidisciplinary projects whilst delving into game studies including user psychology and constructing 3D environments.
A select few of these playable game projects have been shown at events outwith university including Resonate and GlesGames.
Although I spend less time producing physical artwork, the NC facilitated an inventive design mentality and strong ability to visually communicate ideas that influences my work today.
I had joined the course straight from school in 2005 hoping to gain more knowledge and develop my skills in art and design. This coincided with my starting work as a jeweller at Hebridean Jewellery Ltd.
As well as improving drawing techniques, I found that exploring different textures through materials and media have helped me to understand subject matter as well as observing objects in relation to their environment.
Today when designing jewellery, I continue to apply the principals learnt on the course which allows me to better project an idea and translate it in a finished piece.
In recent years, I have also assisted in the company’s custom picture framing department. Part of this job involves consulting customers in choosing suitable mounts and frames for their photographs and artwork.
The course aided my understanding in the way shape and colour can affect one another. Taking this into consideration, it allows me to better visualise the finished product before offering suggestions and recommendations to customers.