Skye Ad­mi­ral Sir Roddy’s home be­comes res­i­dence for artists

The Oban Times - - LEISURE -

The former is­land home of ViceAd­mi­ral Sir Roddy Mac­don­ald, Sec­ond World War vet­eran, painter and chief of the Skye Highland Games, is about to be of­fi­cially opened as a res­i­dence for artists.

The project un­der­taken by Wasps Artists Stu­dios will al­low gen­er­a­tions of artists to ben­e­fit from the is­land cot­tage of a fear­less sailor who took his paint­brush and easel to sea.

Vice-Ad­mi­ral Sir Roddy Mac­don­ald, known as Ad­mi­ral Roddy, was a keen wa­ter­colourist whose brushes and easel ac­com­pa­nied him on all his trav­els, in­clud­ing through­out his ser­vice dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and sub­se­quent con­flicts.

The cot­tage at Braes, on Skye, which over­looks the sea, is where he spent many happy years dur­ing re­tire­ment. It was gifted by his es­tate to Wasps.

It boasts three artists stu­dios, in­clud­ing the one the ad­mi­ral used him­self.

Pic­tures, paint­ings and items brought back from trav­els be­long­ing to Ad­mi­ral Roddy, who died in 2000, are be­ing kept at what is now known as The Ad­mi­ral’s House to pre­serve the me­mory of a man who was deeply in­volved with is­land life.

A num­ber of items will also be housed in the Skye and Lochalsh ar­chives.

John Mac­don­ald, Ad­mi­ral Roddy’s son, said: ‘This project has brought all of the fam­ily back to­gether again in a sym­bolic way.

‘It’s won­der­ful that this beau­ti­ful place will con­tinue to be a fo­cal point for the rest of the fam­ily to come, en­joy and share ex­pe­ri­ences.’

An obit­u­ary for Ad­mi­ral Roddy in The Times in 2001 stated that: ‘If naval of­fi­cers can be said to di­vide them­selves into two classes, clerks and pi­rates, then Roddy Mac­don­ald, was a pi­rate.’

His fear­less and force­ful char­ac­ter served him well in ser­vice dur­ing the Nor­we­gian cam­paign and in the last stages of the war against Ja­pan. He later played a sig­nif­i­cant role in Cyprus. He also caught an in­trud­ing Soviet sub­ma­rine dur­ing the Cold War.

His last ap­point­ment be­fore re­tir­ing in 1979 was as chief of staff to the NATO Com­man­der, Al­lied Naval Forces South­ern Europe, and he was also an aide to Her Majesty the Queen.

The first res­i­dent artist to use the fa­cil­ity is Martin Campbell, a Glas­gow-based maker orig­i­nally from Ben­bec­ula.

The res­i­dency is be­ing de­liv­ered by Wasps in part­ner­ship with the re­spected Skye-based Atlas Arts. Fu­ture pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties will also be de­vel­oped in as­so­ci­a­tion with Atlas Arts.

Emma Ni­col­son, di­rec­tor of Atlas Arts, said: ‘ We’re de­lighted to be col­lab­o­rat­ing with Wasps on the first res­i­dency in the Ad­mi­ral’s House at Ol­lach. We look for­ward to work­ing closely to­gether in fu­ture to bring a diver­sity of artists to Skye. The three stu­dios of­fer a beau­ti­ful set­ting to cre­ate new work and I am sure will be in­spir­ing to many.’

Au­drey Car­lin, Wasps se­nior ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for busi­ness devel­op­ment, said: ‘ We hope that this new res­i­dency fa­cil­ity in Skye will at­tract cre­ative prac­ti­tion­ers from all over the world, draw­ing an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence to this uniquely beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion.

‘It will al­low artists the time and space to re­flect and de­velop their own prac­tice while en­gag­ing with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and other cre­ative peo­ple vis­it­ing the house.

‘ We would sin­cerely like to thank John Mac­don­ald, Ad­mi­ral Roddy’s son, for be­queath­ing the house to our or­gan­i­sa­tion and will en­deav­our to en­sure it con­tin­ues to be a cen­tre for in­spi­ra­tion for years to come.’

Wasps is Scot­land’s largest cre­ative com­mu­nity, pro­vid­ing stu­dios and workspaces for artists and other mem­bers of the cul­tural sec­tor across the coun­try from Shet­land to the Bor­ders.

This year the or­gan­i­sa­tion cel­e­brates 40 years of sup­port­ing cre­ative peo­ple in Scot­land and the open­ing of the Ad­mi­ral’s House is the first event to mark this an­niver­sary.

The Ad­mi­ral’s Cot­tage was gifted to Wasps in Sir Roddy’s es­tate.

Sir Roddy’s home is an ideal re­treat for artists as he was a renowned painter him­self.

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