Air Iomlaid (On Exchange) was a visual arts project linking children in Skye and Edinburgh. The 18-month long project, which began in March 2009, aimed to open up an exchange of ideas and techniques, and to explore culture and language in schools throughout Scotland. Air Iomlaid was developed by The Fruitmarket Gallery, artist Julie Brook and Lasair Ealain, a committee of pupils from Bun sgoil Shlèite, a Gaelic-speaking primary school on Skye.
The project focussed on engaging pupils from two schools, both Gaelic speaking but from very different environments. Bun sgoil Shlèite is on the rural Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye and all teaching is in Gaelic language apart from the small English Medium Department. Tollcross Primary school is in urban Edinburgh and has a Gaelic unit within an otherwise English speaking school. The children’s environments, languages, and cultures are very different, but through an exchange the children worked and made art together and swapped their experiences of how and where they live.
The pupils took part in an intensive programme of drawing and painting outside with professional artists from March to August 2009. They investigated their local landscape and the environment, learnt about the natural history of the area and had the opportunity to extend their Gaelic vocabulary. Large scale artworks and animations were developed in collaboration with the artists and the exhibition was shown at The Fruitmarket Gallery from 10 April – 9 May 2010 and then went on display at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic-speaking further education college situated on the Isle of Skye from 5 June – 25 July 2010.
The pupils from both schools worked across the geographic distance using new technologies to share their drawings and experiences, before visiting each other on the exchange. New technology is also being used to engage other pupils across Scotland as we develop learning materials in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing to be accessed via Glow, the Scottish schools intranet.
During the exhibitions in both Edinburgh and Skye, The Gallery is hosted a range of workshops, talks and events aimed at getting more people to explore and draw their environment. The project has been delivered exclusively in Gaelic, whilst the online learning resources will be presented in both Gaelic and English.
The project involved a core group of 64 primary school children, with additional group of nearly 50 children from the two schools, some 5 visual artists, 3 animators, 2 poets, 2 film-makers, a musician and a researcher.
The project aimed to
Develop in the participating children a deeper and lifelong interest in and engagement with contemporary visual art and Gaelic language/culture
- Enable more schools across Scotland to engage with contemporary visual art and Gaelic language/culture
- Provide opportunities for more people to access contemporary visual art and Gaelic language/culture.
Project partners: Lasair Ealain, Edinburgh Napier University and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Air Iomlaid was supported by The National Lottery via The Scottish Arts Council’s Inspire Fund with additional funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Scottish Natural Heritage, Learning and Teaching Scotland and The Ernest Cook Trust Le taic bhon Chrannchur Nàiseanta tro Ionmhas Brosnachaidh Comhairle Ealain na h-Alba le taic a bharrachd bho Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba, Ionnsachadh is Teagasg na h-Alba agus Urras Ernest Cook