The beauty of Arran has inspired creative endeavours in many but now the island’s special story is being brought into the spotlight, with a new collective joining this summer’s art offerings.

FROM Arran and Bute to Aberdeen and Edinburgh, art in all its forms is brightening up every corner of Scotland this summer. However, the story of art on Arran can be traced back centuries.

“The island has always attracted creative types, such as Sir Joseph Noel Paton, John Maclaughlin Milne, D.Y. Cameron Joan Eardley, Craigie Aitchison and Margot Sandeman, to mention but a few,” explains Ruth Mae, of Arran Open Studios. “It has a call to the artistic spirit.

“But the story of art on Arran by no means ends with them. Moved by the landscape and mythologies of the place, artists and makers continue to be drawn to the island.”

The story opens anew with Arran Open Studios (AOS).

The collective first opened its doors in 2012 when many artists were still wary of “putting themselves out there”, explains Ruth.

“Many artists, although knowing one another at distance, kept their practice separate from one another,” she adds.

“Slowly over the years, the Open Studios event has given artists confidence to show and sell their work, but perhaps as importantly, it has given them a sense of solidarity with other artists and makers.

“It has become a movement of collective purpose.”

Inclusivity has always been respected, with all art and craft workers on the island encouraged to take part.

“The unfolding nature of the AOS demonstrates to the population of Arran the diversity of art and craft activities happening on its doorstep,” says Ruth.

“There have been many initiatives over the years to involve the island community and visitors in the Open Studios weekends.

“We have run competitions to ‘spot’ particular artworks, distributed questionnaires, and held the popular Biscuit Tin Initiative, where drawing materials are left out in biscuit tins at various locations across the community for people of all ages to make their own artworks.”

She adds: “Participants would then leave the completed works in the tins to be collected and mounted as part of an exhibition. Those voted favourites would win a small prize of art materials.”

Arran Open Studios have also run cross-artform collaborations, most notably in 2016 when a number of artists and poets came together.

Ruth explains: “The poets created poems in response to artworks with which they were presented. The resulting soft-back collection of illustrated poems is a milestone in the AOS story.”

In 2018 Arran Open Studios partnered with COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) for the exhibition, Something of the Sea, with all funds donated to COAST.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of AOS and artists both new and long-resident on Arran are taking part in this summer’s show, which runs from August 12 to 15. The studios have also launched a fantastic new website at

“The story of AOS is being written every time the organisers meet and proffer new ideas to broaden the nature of the event, which, at its core remains the opening of our studios to the public,” says Ruth. “The unique experience of talking to artists and makers and in their natural habitat, as David Attenborough might say, is not to be missed. The evolution continues.”

Elsewhere, A Taste for Impressionism: Modern French Art from Millet to Matisse, brings the works of some of the world’s most famous artists to the Royal Scottish Academy ( in Edinburgh, from July 30 until November 13.

It focuses on the pioneering nineteenth-century Scottish collectors who had the foresight to invest in the avant-garde, with a stellar cast of artists represented, including Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh.

At Aberdeen Art Gallery, Kenny Hunter, who created Feedback Loop, a firm favourite with gallery visitors, and Youth With Split Apple, which sits outside King’s College, has opened his solo exhibition Sculpture Court.

It includes six sculptures ranging in scale, as well as banners and posters, and it runs until October 30. Find out more at