Kintyre is a hugely scenic Argyll peninsula with the small Hebridean island of Gigha sitting just off its west coast. From stunning sandy bays to wonderful wildlife and ancient woodlands, this is a beautiful and relatively undiscovered part of Argyll. It’s home to a thriving community of artists and craftspeople, who are inspired by the wild and rugged landscape. When you’re out and about exploring, make sure you discover the arts and crafts of Kintyre and Gigha.
Campbeltown, Kintyre’s main town, is a cracking place to visit, with shops, cafés and even a distillery or three! You’ll also find a number of galleries and shops selling local art and crafts. The Coastal Design Gallery sits right on the harbour front. There’s work by local artists, including John Leckie and Stuart Herd who are based in Tarbert, as well as jewellery, glassware, pottery and a wide selection of unique crafts designed and made in Scotland.
The gallery also stocks jewellery designed and made in Campbeltown by goldsmith Grant Logan. His work is inspired by lore, landscape and the natural wonders of Kintyre. His workshop is open to visitors from Monday to Friday 8am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 5.30pm.
For more gorgeous gold, head to Carradale on the east coast of Kintyre to visit the Carradale Gold Foundry. You can see the jewellers in action in the workshop and browse the wonderful collection in the shop next door. The team specialise in Celtic rings and distinctive rotating rings. They’re also well known for the extensive range of Mackintosh jewellery – one of the few Scottish makers who produce this range. If you have the time, take a walk along the beach at Carradale Bay, it’s a huge stretch of white sand.
Further down the coast at Saddell Bay you can see one of five sculptures by world renowned artist Anthony Gormley. The life-sized figures, together known as Land, were originally commissioned by the Landmark Trust to mark their 50th anniversary. They were due to have been moved in May 2016, but the Saddell sculpture was bought by a benefactor and now has a permanent home here on the beach.
Also on Kintyre’s east coast is An Ceardach Garden where five acres of long-abandoned rough grazing and hazel wood has been transformed into a beautiful garden. The garden is also the location for the studio of Christine D Russell, a sea and landscape painted. From time to time the small gallery exhibits a selection of her work. The garden is open from March to October by appointment.
For some island art, hop on the CalMac ferry to Gigha. It’s just a 20-minute journey from Tayinloan on Kintyre. From the ferry it’s a short walk to the lovely Gigha Gallery which is next to the Gigha Hotel. The gallery runs exhibitions throughout the year, with regular artists including Jolomo, Erni Upton and Sandra Ratcliffe. The craft shop sells a wide range of products that are made on the island, including jewellery, knitwear and candles. And if you want to get hands-on and learn something new, there are regular craft workshops from stained glass to felt making. The gallery is open all year round.
Back on mainland Kintyre, just up the road from Tayinloan is Glenbarr café, stores & garden centre. The shop sells Scottish food and produce, as well as a fine selection of gifts and crafts made locally. There’s also a fantastic café serving up delicious coffee and cakes. Pop into the Argyll Hotel at Bellochantuy too, as they display artwork and run photography workshops. At Muasdale artist Senja Brendon paints incredible seascape from Saltwater Studio. Senja first came to Kintyre 30 years ago to surf!
Head up the road to the pretty fishing village of Tarbert and you’ll discover even more lovely galleries. Or how about having an art holiday at nearby Whitehouse with Whitehouse Studio Art Holidays. Enjoy a five-day residential art course hosted by wallpaper designer Karen Beauchamp. Situated on the west coast of Kintyre with dramatic views over West Loch Tarbert, Glenreasdale House is the perfect place for an artistic retreat! You’ll have plenty of time to explore the local area, with trips to inspiring locations which are never far from the sea.
And for something different, make your way to Davaar Island to see an unusual cave painting. Situated near Campbeltown, Davaar is a tidal island and is linked to the mainland by a natural shingle causeway called the Dhorlin. You can walk across the Dhorlin at low tide in around 40 minutes, but check the times of the tides or you could get stranded! Davaar is famous for a cave painting – a life size image of the crucifixion – which was painted, in secret, by local artist Archibald MacKinnon in 1887. It is said he had a dream telling him where to paint it.
Keep an eye out for regular craft fairs held by Kintyre Crafters.
Find out more about things to see and do in Kintyre and Gigha.