Skye Admiral Sir Roddy’s home becomes residence for artists
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.