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Green Dot Trail - discover art & nature

The landscape and natural beauty of Argyll and the Isles has inspired artists for generations. Many artists have chosen to live and work here among the towering mountains, glistening sea lochs and ancient forests. To celebrate this rich creativity and the strong connection between art and nature in Argyll and the Isles, local artists’ collective Artmap Argyll created the Green Dot Trail. It consists of a dozen places in Argyll and the Isles that have provided a deep source of inspiration to individual artists and which are accessible to all. These are wonderful places to explore and can readily be combined with visits to artists’ studios. Follow the Green Dot Trail deep into Argyll’s stunning countryside and go on a journey to discover art and nature.
 
Iona  - Melanie Chmelewska
1. Iona - Melanie Chmelewska
Melanie Chmelewska is a sculptor who works in limestone and sandstone. Her inspirational place is the island of Iona.

She says: “Iona is a place which inspires me. It is a place where the physical world meets the spiritual. The stone carvings in the Abbey of plant and animal life reflect this beautifully. It is a place where the human soul can feel at home. A place where you can sense the ancient footsteps of all who have made the pilgrimage before you.

Her stone carving made for the ‘Footsteps of Columba’ Artmap exhibition in 2013 is inspired by Iona and by finding the physical beauty of Iona in one hand and the spiritual in the other.

Directions
To get to Iona you have two ferries to catch: mainland to the Isle of Mull (via Oban/Craignure or Lochaline/Fishnish or Kilchoan/Tobermory) and then from Fionnphort to Iona. The ferry point for Iona is at Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull and it's a four-minute journey across the Sound of Iona. It's foot passenger only unless you are a resident on Iona or have a permit to take your car cross.
Dunadd Fort - Margaret Ker
2. Dunadd Fort - Margaret Ker
Margaret Ker uses a broad range of media in her art and describes her relationship with nature as a constant source of inspiration. Margaret’s special place is Dunadd Fort, a location which inspires her work and feeds her imagination.

Margaret says: "I regularly walk to the fort. I love the panoramic view, taking in the beauty of the sky, the surrounding hills, the moss, the forests, the meandering river, the sea and the wildlife. It just makes me feel ‘on top of the world’!”

Directions
This spectacular site has been occupied since the Iron Age. The well-preserved hill fort was a stronghold of Dalriada, the kingdom of the Scotti. On top of the hill there are two footprints, a boar and an ogham inscription have been carved into the natural rock. It's two miles south of Kilmartin village off the A816.
Gulf of Corryvreckan - Rob Walker
3. Gulf of Corryvreckan - Rob Walker
Rob Walker creates contemporary compositions that showcase his unique, quirky interpretations of objects which relate directly to the wildlife and landscape of Argyll. Rob has chosen the Gulf of Corryvreckan, the narrow strait between the islands of Jura and Scarba and the third largest whirlpool in the world, as the place which inspires him.

He says: “My painting ‘Off the Chart North’ is inspired by the scenery surrounding this formidable natural wonder. The black lines painted on the sea represent the rugged contours of the seabed, which, along with the tide, create the maelstrom of water. The whirpool is an integral part of my paintings and is only six nautical miles from my studio – on a stormy day I can hear it roar.”

Directions
GPS co-ordinates – 56° 09’ 00” North 5° 44’ 00” West.
Arduaine Gardens - Carol Olsen
4. Arduaine Gardens - Carol Olsen
Carol Olsen creates original hand-painted designs on silk scarves. She is inspired by Arduaine Gardens which she describes as mystical and magical, spiritual and peaceful.

Carol says: “Arduaine Gardens connects sea, land and sky with the expertise of plans and nature. It all seeps through you as you meander from one part of the garden to the next being drawn onwards. It is inspirational to the soul. A release from everyday life into the mind of the artist that created the garden itself.”

Directions
Arduaine Gardens is four miles south of Kilmelford, just off the A816, midway between Oban and Lochgilphead.
Benmore Botanic Garden - Louise Oppenheimer
5. Benmore Botanic Garden - Louise Oppenheimer
Louise Oppenheimer is a weaver who creates tapestries inspired by the landscape, weather and seasonal changes. Her inspirational place is Benmore Botanic Garden which she describes as “steeped in beauty”.

She says: “Whether walking between giant redwood trees feeling very small or swimming in a sea of colour as the azalea leaves carpet the ground by the pond in autumn, the place never fails to give a sense of joy. My children still remember the day I jumped into the pond as I ran excitedly gathering all the fallen leaves.'

Directions
Benmore is set within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Argyll Forest Park, seven miles north of Dunoon.
Ardkinglas Gardens - Sian MacQueen
6. Ardkinglas Gardens - Sian MacQueen
Sian MacQueen uses the colour, textures and light of Argyll to influence and inspire her uniquely layered work. Her inspirational place is Ardkinglas Gardens.

The words of William Blake: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity.. and some scare see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

Sian says: “The first time I read these words they were carved inside the wooden shelter at Ardkinglas Gardens. They described to me perfectly my relationship with Argyll and why I work as I do. For me, art is about the senses and the imagination; tears of joy filled my heart that day. Ardkinglas stimulates all your senses.”

Directions
You'll find Ardkinglas Gardens at Cairndow near the top of Loch Fyne after the descent of the Rest and Be Thankful, across the loch from Loch Fyne Oysters and Inveraray.
Cara View Road Trip - Jane Walker
7. Cara View Road Trip - Jane Walker
Jane Walker is an artist and willow sculptor who binds observations and memories in her work. The starting point of her work is galvanised by the sea or landscape. Rather than a definitive place, Jane has chosen a road trip down the west side of Kintyre as somewhere she draws inspiration from.

She says: “The road trip to Kintyre begins south of the pretty harbour port and village of Tarbert. The route hugs the westerly coast of the peninsula. On the rise out of Whitehouse, you can catch a glimpse of the Islay ferry as it steams its way down (or up) the West Loch – if you are lucky.

“Following the road through Clachan and close to Ronachan Point, the vista and seascape beyond is wide open and welcoming. Look north to Jura, west to Islay, south to Ireland – vast acres of sky and headland and the great Atlantic Ocean. Bypassing the village and ferry terminal at Tayinloan, beyond Gigha – across the Sound of Gigha -is Cara Island.

“Once a stronghold of MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, this island’s silhouette is recognisable by its swollen cliffs. They rise steeply at its southern tip but mostly the isle (one mile in length) is gently sloping and low-lying. The only inhabitants are wildlife, birds and feral goats.

“Spot a white sandy beach, a rocky shore, a strip of pasture, heather, bracken and one solitary house, set within a huge expanse of light and reflected light – this is beyond question, grandeur on a resplendent scale.”
Tarbert Castle Walk and Kintyre Way - Wilma MacKenzie
8. Tarbert Castle Walk and Kintyre Way - Wilma MacKenzie
Wilma MacKenzie is a glass engraver who specialises in wildlife and calligraphy-inspired designs. She has chosen Tarbert Castle Walk and Kintyre Way as her place of inspiration.

She says: “Welcome to my favourite walk. It has it all – a castle (built by Robert the Bruce no less), a herd of Hebridean and Soay sheep and a wildlife pond teaming with all sorts of bugs and beasties. Then there is the walk round the hill where a path takes you up to the viewpoint that looks over Loch Fyne and way beyond. The views are amazing. This walk is my ‘pick and mix’ for inspiration for my engraving: beautiful plants, birds and wildlife everywhere. It is also the start of the stunning Kintyre Way walk – all 87 miles of it. I hope you find time to enjoy this wonderful walk as much as I do.”

Directions
Access to Tarbert Castle walk is through the signposted steps up from Tarbert village behind the main Fish Quay.
Gruinart Bay, Islay - Lesley Burr
9. Gruinart Bay, Islay - Lesley Burr
Colourful, symbolic landscapes are the central focus of Lesley Burr's art. Her place of inspiration is Gruinart Bay on the Isle of Islay.

Lesley says: “If you haven’t been to this beach before do go if you can. It’s an expansive stretch of sandy beach, shell white, with crystal turquoise and deep blue water. It's really beautiful and thinking of it makes me relax and I can even taste the salt. On the way there, there is an old croft at the side of the road with a rusty red tin roof - an iconic image of isolation that allows your imagination scope for the history before. Hear seals singing nearby, walk miles on the beach, feel the machair and see the rare chough on the other side of the bay if you are lucky. The oil painting My Heaven, Your Heaven came from this place.”

Directions
Take the ferry from mainland Kennacraig to Port Askaig or Port Ellen on Islay. Gruinart Bay is signed from A847 Bridgend to Bruichladdich road, three miles from the turn-off.
A View From the Carradale Road - Karen Beauchamp
10. A View From the Carradale Road - Karen Beauchamp
Karen Beauchamp works in oil and watercolour and is inspired by the shapes, colours and landscape of Argyll. Her inspirational place is a journey along the Carradale road – the east side of Kintyre.

She says: “I am so inspired when I turn right at Cloanaig and head south. The road itself is a single track bringing back images of romantic Scotland 60 or 70 years ago. The vistas and panoramas of Arran from this road are spectacular. Grogport is a very calm and secret bay with only a few cottages, Port Righ – the perfect ‘Swallows and Amazons’ bay and Waterfoot – a charming jumble of holiday cottages nestling right by the estuary.”

Directions
The turn off for the B8001 Clonaig and Grogport is five miles south west of Tarbert on the A83 Campbeltown road. Continue 15 miles to the village of Grogport.
Kyles of Bute - Kirsty Brady
11. Kyles of Bute - Kirsty Brady
Kirsty Brady is a glass artist who is inspired by the beauty around her. Kirsty has chosen the Kyles of Bute as her inspirational place, having recently completed some work there.

She says, “For my recent work I took inspiration from the Kyles of Bute. I focussed on the land and sea connections through and across Argyll. I wanted to produce a piece that connected them further. Always having had a passion for birds this seemed the natural form to use as a connection. These pieces fly across a pond in the beautiful setting of Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park, Colintraive.”

Directions
At Strachur turn right on to the A886, signposted Glendaruel and Colintraive. Just after Glendaruel turn left on A8003 towards Tighnabruaich.
Argyll Forest Park - Tom Butcher
12. Argyll Forest Park - Tom Butcher
Tom Butcher produces sculptural pieces and functional tableware. He is inspired by back-to-basics rustic living and has chosen Argyll Forest Park as his special place.

Tom says, “Argyll Forest Park is an awe-inspiring expanse of rugged peaks and hidden glens, peaceful sea lochs and rushing rivers. Established in 1935, it is Britain’s oldest Forest Park, stretching from the Holy Loch on the Firth of Clyde to the craggy peaks of the Arrochar Alps.

“The ragged rocks and tumbling water of the forest park play a large part in the nautical, rustic simplicity that embodies my work. Escaping into the wilds on my mountain bike helps me to balance life, work and family demands, to focus on new designs and processes. It inspires and rejuvenates, relaxes and motivates. A place of true beauty.”

Directions
Found in the heart of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the gateway to the Argyll Forest Park is accessible from the outskirts of the village of Arrochar, at the head of Loch Long. It is just a few minutes drive from Loch Lomond and 45 minutes from the centre of Glasgow.
   
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