The arts are an integral part of Eilean Shona. The house and cottages showcase Vanessa’s bright and bold aesthetic through her eclectic collection of paintings, sculptures and murals. Many works were specially commissioned for the main house, including the flotsam sculpture of Tinkerbelle by Beezy Bailey which hangs over the living room mantelpiece and has been reproduced on the label of our signature whisky. The dining room walls were painted by Fred Pollock, the Scottish abstract artist whose paintings can be seen in nearly every cottage on the island. Vanessa showed Pollock’s work in her London gallery in the 1980s and their relationship remains close to this day. The four poster bed in Lorimer was commissioned by Precious McBain and was made with driftwood from the shores of Eilean Shona. Other artwork on the island include a Paul Kindersley mural in Shepherd’s Cottage, charcoal drawings by William Kentridge, woodcut prints by Grayson Perry, a painting by Dame Paula Rego and sculptures by Margaret Hunter.
The island also has a rich cultural programme of workshops and residencies. Artists and writers taking part have included Polly Morgan, Ben Rivers, Ayan Farah, Paul Kindersly, Laura Lancaster, Pep Duran Esteva, Carmen Galofre, and many more.
Shona Writing Workshops & Retreats
Our writing workshops, led by experienced teachers, will focus on exploring creativity in this truly unique island setting. Cut off from the world and all its stresses, you will be immersed in nature and surrounded by wildlife. The focus of these workshops is to develop your work with in-depth support from your tutor. Writing workshops have been led by Polly Devlin, Amy Liptrot, Hilary Boyd, Freya North, Raffaella Barker and Louisa Young.
Our writing retreats are an opportunity to give your writing the time and space it deserves. Escape from the world and experience the peace and deep concentration that Eilean Shona instils as you work alongside an established author and a number of other writers. Delicious meals are prepared and served by our chef. You are free to be as productive or as contemplative as you wish. Our next workshop and retreat dates are 28 September to 11 October 2023 and the retreat will be run by the esteemed author John Walsh.
SCHOLARSHIPS : We are also committed to help nurture young emerging writers and offer a scholarship place on our workshops each year. The next writing workshop applications will be open from the 1st May 2024.
Shona Artists Residency Programme
The island has long been an inspiration for artists and writers, and to further build on this legacy we have joined with the Royal Society of Sculptors to offer a members-only residency. This month-long residency on Eilean Shona is for one member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. During the residency the artist will have access to an abundant source of wood from the island’s fallen trees and will be encouraged to reflect upon and respond to the natural environment for the full one-month period.
Between 2015 and 2017, we hosted Shona Projects, curated by Emma McIntyre & Matilda Strang.